Nestled in the heart of Kīhei, lies the historic landmark which deserves recognition. It is within the walls of Kō‘ie‘ie Fishpond that fish were gathered for Hawai‘i’s monarchy. Choice ‘anae (mullet) and ‘awa (milkfish) flourished and grew over three feet long! A size unthinkable today!
Kō‘ie‘ie is said to have been built by the legendary menehune. These people were said to have had remarkable characteristics in strength. They were said to be able to build a fishpond within one night. If the pond was not completed that evening, then it would remain incomplete.
Later, in the 1500’s ‘Umi-a-Līoa had the wall rebuilt. It is said that the dust created by all the people, kicked up the dirt of the area and Kō‘ie‘ie was later renamed Kalepolepo, meaning “the dirt”.
Other ali‘i also visited the Kalepolepo area including ‘Umi-a-Liloa (1500’s), Kekaulike (1700’s) Kamehameha I (1800’s), with the most recent reconstruction in the 1840’s under Gov. Hoapili and a penal colony from Kaho‘olawe.
Later, in the mid-1800’s the area of Kalepolepo was a bustling community as whalers traded for potatoes which were brought down from the slopes of Haleakalā. These goods were traded at the famous Koa House (shown above) which was built at the wall of Kō‘ie‘ie Fishpond. Here, goods were traded on a regular basis and the owner, Joseph Halstead, frequently entertained royal Hawaiian guests. A Protestant church built by Hawaiian scholar, David Malo, and a Morman church provided the public’s religious needs.
Today, ‘Ao‘ao O Nā Loko I‘a O Maui is working with the community to restore Kō‘ie‘ie Fishpond and preserve its history. Because of these and many other reasons, Kō‘ie‘ie Fishpond is recognized as a historic site on the State of Hawai‘i and National Registers of Historic Places since 1996.
Check out this video about the history of this historical site.