Waikalua Loko Fishpond Oral History Project:

Looking to the Past to Chart Our Way Forward

The Pacific American Foundation honors the Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society (WLFPS) for their dedicated and arduous restoration of the ancient Hawaiian fishpond, preserving it as an aquacultural resource, an outdoor classroom for K- 12 students, and a laboratory for college students and scientists now and into the future.

About the Interviewees

We interviewed kūpuna members of the Preservation Society, some of whom are now in their 70s – 90s. Their stories document, illustrate, and archive the past efforts to restore and preserve what was once a jewel of Hawaiian engineering and sustenance.  They are a chronicle of this Hawaiian fishpond in our windward backyard at the southern end of Kāneʻohe Bay.

Our project includes interviews with archaeologists, anthropologists, and Windward Community College faculty who organized high school and college students to explore the pond as a laboratory for their research.  We heard from curriculum writers and teachers who translated the pond’s experiences into teachable moments in science, math, and social studies. And, we learned from educators who served as docents at the pond, introducing thousands of students and community members to this magnificent outdoor classroom.   

Preserving the Humanities

The Loko I’a has significance in modern times beyond its historic ability to provide food. Experiences shared at the pond are a “bridge” that connects indigenous wisdom with contemporary knowledge in meaningful ways that help solve problems within our community. This has led to a preferred Native Hawaiian cultural approach that embraces the powers of observation, interpretation and application (O.I.A) as we prepare and empower generations now and in the future.

We tell the stories about the restoration of the fishpond to become a laboratory of innovation in education, research, teacher training of teachers and ultimately as a stepping stone for career opportunities to better serve the community. We developed curricula and formed community collaborations.  To date, our workdays and education programs have attracted over 100,000 students, families and members of the community.   Statewide, we have trained 6,000 teachers.  And, there are now over 200 partnerships that reach across the ocean to seek and share wisdom and aloha.

Inspiring the Next Generation

How did the simple yet profound restoration of a small 400-year ancient Hawaiian fishpond capture the imagination of its founders to create a journey of continuing innovation in modern times? The oral history project offers answers to these questions as we look to the past to chart our way forward. It is our intention that community access to these stories will further enhance not only the preservation of the resource, but take it rightful place as a living cultural resource that will continue to give into a yet imagined future.

Walking in the footsteps of our ancestors has compelled us to look across the generations to determine how we can best navigate and make decisions over a horizon of seven generations, past, present and future. The stones have been reset. Waikalua Loko Iʻa is our “piko” or center and continues to inspire us to love (aloha ‘āina) and care (mālama ‘āina) for this precious place called home. The oral history stories will help cement the stones so the younger generations fully appreciate the shoulders upon which they stand tall.

Thank you to those interviewed for their oral histories.

Lea Albert
Sheila Cyboron
Dr. Hallett Hammatt
Kawaikapuokalani Hewett
Colette Higgins
Dr. Hiroshi Kato
Dr. Dave Krupp
Herb Lee, Jr.
Louise Kaohua Lucas
Dr. Floyd McCoy
Willis Motooka
Fred Takebayashi

Pacific American Foundation thanks and acknowledges all those who worked to create this oral history project

Cultural Surveys Hawai‘i:

Aulii Mitchell, Cultural Advisor, Interviewer
Kellen Tanaka, Interviewer
Chantellee Spencer, Interviewer

Photographer: Louise Kaohua Lucas

‘Ōlelo Community Media video production team:

Angela Angel, ‘Ōlelo Chief Production Officer
Kekoa Graham, ‘Ōlelo Production Services Manager
Scott Nordquist, Assistant Director
Thomas Collins, Camera Operator
Justin Kuwamura, Camera Operator
Corinne Makahilahila, Camera Operator
Filipo Tuisano, Camera Operator
Chase Yamauchi, Camera Operator
Alex Miyamoto, Audio
Deron Kamisato, ‘Ōlelo Editor
Jo-Lynn Domingo, Production Coordinator
Roger McKeague, Executive Director

Pacific American Foundation Project Team: 

Herb Lee, Jr., President/CEO, Convenor, Moderator of Interview panels, and Narrator
Doug Knight, Project Director
Ardis Escherberg, Chancellor, Windward Community College, Supporter of WCC participation
Sarah Gilman Sur, Head Librarian, Windward Community College
Ellie Seaton, Librarian, Windward Community College, Metadata Design
Cindy Texeira, Hawaii Collection Librarian, Windward Community College
David Fry, Electronic Tech, Media Specialist, Augusta ADA transcription support
Kauilaokahekiliokalani Freitas-Pratt, Student Assistant – Transcriber
Shayla (Shel) Sunada, Student Assistant – Transcriber

This program is funded by grants from the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities through support of federal funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities; and private funds from The Hana Group