In ancient times, if a fishpond needed to be repaired, the entire community was summoned to do their share of work. It is estimated that Kō‘ie‘ie was built in the 1400’s. It’s first documented repair occurred in the late 1500’s when`Umi a Liloa ordered the repair of three fishponds along Kula Kai, including Kō‘ie‘ie. During this time, the name of the area changed from Kō‘ie‘ie to “Kalepolepo” when a great cloud of dust rose up and hovered above due to the long lines of people who transferred rocks from mauka to makai. In the early to mid 1700’s, King Kekaulike repaired the same ponds and in the early 1800’s, Kamehameha the Great maintained it as well. In the 1840’s, under the direction of Gov. Hoapili, a penal colony did the last documented repair. It has been over one and a half centuries since the fishponds of Kula Kai have had documented repairs and ‘Ao‘ao O Nā Loko I‘a O Maui is working with the community to revitalize it.
Since our incorporation in 1998, one of the main goals of ‘Ao‘ao O Nā Loko I‘a O Maui has been to revitalize Kō‘ie‘ie Fishpond so that future generations may enjoy it as we do today. We moved towards this goal by working directly with the community to restore and maintain its walls and we also have had waves of funding which allowed us to hire skilled masons to restack the wall in various years.
At this time, our main work is maintaining the wall by working with the public, school, and community organization volunteers, to help rebuild small portions of the wall and transfer rocks from one area of the pond to the other. As always, we are also actively seeking funding to maintain a crew of skilled masons to regularly restore and maintain the wall.
We offer scheduled volunteer opportunities for schools, community organizations and the general public can participate during our community work days. In Hawai‘i, we have a saying, ‘a‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia, meaning, no task is too large when done together by all. When groups volunteer with us, we use this opportunity for them to build a greater bond with each other while also accomplishing the large task of fishpond restoration.
As a volunteer, participants help collect rocks that are located far away or have fallen away from the main wall then work together to replace them. We encourage everyone to work together at a manageable pace and we arrange the work according to the group's abilities.