Herb Lee with Willis Motooka and Colette Higgins
|Title:||Group Interview with Docents (Colette Higgins and Willis Motooka)|
|Date of Interview:||October 14, 2021|
|Location:||Waikalua Loko Iʻa, Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu|
|Description:||Introductions — Guiding student learning at the pond’s outdoor classroom — Leading preservation efforts by volunteers at community work days — Bridging indigenous and contemporary knowledge applied to stewardship in service to the Preservation Society.|
|Interviewee(s):||Colette Higgins and Willis Motooka|
|Interviewer:||Herb Lee, Jr.|
|Transcriber:||Kauilaokahekiliokalani Freitas-Pratt and Doug Knight|
|Subjects:||Ancestors, bonding experience, gorrila ogo, great equalizer, indigenous knowledge, kahea of the pond, Kapi‘olani Community College, limu removal, mangrove, Nelda Quensell, Queen of limu, talking story|
|Rights Statement:||Copyright: © 2022 Pacific American Foundation. All rights reserved. This work is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are permitted to use this video for research purposes with proper credit, citation, within reservations of Pacific American Foundation.|
|Grant Recognition:||This interview was made possible with 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.|
[Introduction to Willis Motooka and Connection to Pond] 00:00:00.000 –> 00:05:00.800
COLETTE: *laughs* WILLIS: Okay. HERB: Okay, so we good to go?
COLETTE: So back to Willis *laughs*
WILLIS: Okay, I’m done.
COLETTE: No! Remember where you were…
WILLIS: I’m done. HERB: Any more about the connection then? I know- Are you…?
WILLIS: Oh, you mean how I got to Waikalua Loko?
HERB: So, you- The last I heard, you were upgrade to groundskeeper. *Colette and Willis laugh*
HERB: And then, we got cut off. Did you get any more upgrades after that?
WILLIS: No- Well, that- I just have to balance that with school groups coming to the fishpond.
But that other part, dealing with, uh, groundskeeper and maintenance,
That was quite a challenge because the mangrove out there is one of the most prolific, rapid reproducing plants there is, I think.
HERB: I think so…
COLETTE: That’s right…
WILLIS: You know, one tree produces maybe thousands of pods in a year, maybe more. And all those pods manage to settle in and sprout somewhere in the fishpond, and you gotta hunt that down. Every one of them.
HERB: The prop roots. Oh, my goodness. From one plant.
WILLIS: Prop roots protect all the other plants, you know? It makes it impossible for you to go in and weed. So, um-
HERB: Except if you had a chainsaw.
WILLIS: That alone is a learning experience.
HERB: Except if you have a chainsaw *all laugh* Yes, that was a learning experience. That’s why it took us 26 years to finally get the last mangrove out of the pond. It’s hard work.
COLETTE: Can’t believe we got it all done. I never thought it would… *laughs* They keep growing again.
WILLIS: But, you know, uh…
HERB: How many students do you estimate that you were able to teach after you retired from Castle High?
WILLIS: Oh, probably three or four thousand I would say, you know. Because we had about three or four schools a week at the fishpond.
HERB: That was remarkable, I thought.
WILLIS: Yeah. And then, almost all of the schools have, you know, the Hawaiiana curriculum. And, um it’s probably impossible to- for you to go through the curriculum without coming across
the fishpond, the Hawaiian fishpond. Which, by the way, is unique in all the world. You know…
And that says something about our ancestors and their knowledge of science, actually. I’m a science teacher, so I can make the connection very easily when I see something that they had
constructed or designed; what went into the thinking in that design. And how much knowledge about the ecosystem, or individual species, their life cycle, all had to play a part of that.
HERB: Yeah… And they’re able to thrive in putting all of it together in the context of a fish pond.
WILLIS: That’s correct, you know. And the fishpond is a concept, you know. And it has different parts and because of that, a lot of the fishpond resembles each other, you know. It- It all comes from a basic model. It’s as if one person built all the fishponds in Hawaiʻi, you know, because you can count on the mākāhā being there. You can count on the freshwater input from a stream being there. And then the wall having that curvature going out to the sea and then back to the point of land where it started. So, well… In the absence of, you know, written language, I don’t, you know, there must have been a discipline- some kind of kahuna that specialize in building fishponds.
HERB: And passing on that knowledge from generation to generation.
WILLIS: That’s right. Passing it on…
HERB: And, hopefully, improving on the design of it. Would you say?
WILLIS: Yeah. And it- A lot of legends embody their knowledge And, um, we don’t have too many legends, but they must be out there. You know?… Cuz that’s the way they passed on knowledge…
[Introduction to Colette Higgins and Connection to Pond] 00:05:00.800 –> 00:08:39.800
HERB: Crazy… So, Colette! COLETTE: Mm, yes?
HERB: What brought you to the pond?
COLETTE: Oh, what brought me to the pond? Um- I think I first heard about the pond from NAPALI, National Pacific American Leader Institute. I attended in June of 2005, and you presented, I believe, right? You were there. You were telling us about this pond that called you, the kahea, or the calling of the pond. And I lived Kāneʻohe here, right, so I lived not too far away, only about- not even 10 minutes away. And I had never been to this pond, but you had told us about it at that particular Leadership Institute, and then, I think, my son, his teacher was from St. Anthony’s in Kailua, he was going to school there, and his science teacher, Mrs. Clinton [Braden] used to come and bring her kids here-
COLETTE: -to the pond, right? And so, I had heard about it there and I had seen these sign-up sheets, and my son never wanted to come, by the way, but I knew about the pond, But I had never been here.
COLETTE: So I think it was about a year, maybe a year-and-a-half after my NAPALI experience in 2005 that I thought “I just gotta go.” I saw the notice came through. There was going to be a- one of those community work days, right, and I thought “I better go. I gotta try this. Check it out.” right? And so I did. From that point on, I was hooked. I don’t know. It was a community work day and I got muddy and dirty and wet. And it was just wonderful. I don’t know. I think- I grew up in Kaimuki, in town. And I’m one of those kind of Hawaiians that was a towny, so I didn’t get dirty or muddy enough, I think?
COLETTE: So, I just love getting muddy and dirty. And I was sort of addicted at that point, right?
And then I started- I started my Hawaiian History class. I used to teach Hawaiian History at KCC [Kapi‘olani Community College]. For about 24 years at KCC. And so I started doing service learning for my students, and so I allowed them to go out into the community to do service projects, and it would replace another assignment for them, yeah? And so I started encouraging them to come out to this fishpond. So all these students from town would start coming over here on Saturday and I’d meet them here. And I loved working with my students in the pond. So I know- They used to divide us up into work groups. And we’d do different things. So I think I’ve done every single job here and I know I don’t like doing the mangroves cuz that’s stinky work-
COLETTE: -and I’ve got scars to prove it about how hard it is to move those mangroves, right?-
HERB: But the limu was calling you.
COLETTE: Limu! I love the limu! I love the limu. Every time- So there’s a certain point where I tried all the different jobs and then at some point, I remember, by the time I was on the board starting in 2011, I know that every time we go around “Who’s gonna do what?” It would be like “Oh yeah. Your’s is limu, right Colette?”
COLETTE: You guys always assume I do the limu. Cuz after all the different jobs, I realize that that was the most fun for me. It was to do that. But over the years, I brought students; in my Hawaiian History class would come. And then, I started doing the faculty development, and so I’d bring faculty from Kapiʻolani Community College to come out here. And that was amazing, to be able to- for the- The students would have to write, like, a reflection about the pond, or what they learned from this experience. It always- It had to connect back to Hawaiian History, which was easy, right? It was just a reflection of their experience. The faculty, we would have these talk-story sessions afterwards. And we’d find out all these stories from them of what they learn from the pond. But I always say that when you go out with your class, into the environment and do something together, a shared-learning-experience, there’s something about that that changes the dynamics when you get back into the classroom. Cuz you all got dirty together, you’ve all got sweaty together. You were all trying to figure out, as a team, how you’re gonna do this, right? It’s a different experience and by the time you get in the classroom, the dynamics are different. And they’re okay with asking questions, right? They’re not ashamed of each other. They know each other by name, right?
[Community Work Days Impact on Students]
00:08:39.800 –> 00:12:10.100
And I love all the different projects I’ve done on the pond over the years. I’d just would come every Community Work Day and invite all my students and sometimes faculty, I keep encouraging them to come out as well. I had interesting conversations with faculty that we’d never, you know, I’d never have those kind of conversations from outside. And just…I don’t know. It was just… It was a right- great bonding experience that I think if I can picture in my head all the different people I’ve come to the pond with, and the shared experience with them and to me, that was the best- My first time at the pond, by the way, I was doing mangroves, and it was very stinky. Cuz every time you pull up mangroves. Oh my god-
COLETTE: -it’s stinky. It smells like sewer, right? And-
HERB: It’s sulphur!
WILLIS: The sulphur dioxide, the gas-
HERB: It’s natural.
COLETTE: The person I was working alongside was Nelda Quensell. So Nelda Quensell taught Botany at Kapiʻolani Community College. She was my teacher when I was a student at Kapiʻolani, right? And so, here we are, side-by-side, pulling out mangroves, you know? And weʻre talking story, so itʻs like…It was pretty cool, so…Thatʻs how I got, sort of…fell in love with the pond, I guess…
HERB: I kinda remember that breakthrough – remember one day you showed up at the Community Work Day and said “My son is here!”
COLETTE: Yeah! One time, one time.
HERB: And then your husband-
COLETTE: Well, he came to the potluck.
*HERB and COLETTE laugh*
COLETTE: My husband said “No…”
HERB: Oh, okay, now the whole family has had a- made a connection.
COLETTE: My son did work, one time, pulling out limu, in the pond, with me one time, right? And I think he- we ended up meeting, that one particular day, he ended up meeting some snowboarding Olympic gold medalist, or something- She was this wonderful athlete, I guess, and she was just out here, in the pond, right? So I used to always joke with people whether it was in the pond or in the taro patches, you know that everybody is sort of equal when youʻre working in the pond.
COLETTE: You’re all bending over with your butt in the air, right? I mean, that’s pretty much it, right? We all look exactly the same. It don’t matter whether your teacher or student or whoever,-
COLETTE: -we’re all doing the work together, right. It’s just teamwork And it’s all about paying attention to the- to the land.
HERB: It’s a great equalizer…
COLETTE: It’s a great equalizer! Excellent, excellent. Equalizer. But it’s a wonderful, shared learning experience, right? That’s what I loved about the pond…
HERB: So, speaking about that, you know, over, now, 26 years have passed, and there’s been a lot of highlight moments for all of us. And, particularly, you know, and you kind of touch on it, you know, about the impact that an experience can have on students. What would you say would be a highlight experience in terms of, you know, what the pond has been able to do for students, in general?
WILLIS: Well, give them concrete experience, to begin with.
HERB: And, yeah, Willis, you’ve been in the classroom for a long time, you know. How do you think having a- I like to refer to the pond as like a- the annex of the Castle Complex at Windward Community College, right? This is part of our community classroom, and how important is that?
WILLIS: Well, if you attain a point where you had that concrete experience you have shared experience so, you know, as Colette was saying, you know, you’re able to communicate more freely and in a more friendly environment once you have the shared experience, you know. And although, you know, Colette really rose to the position of the Queen of Limu.
*HERB and COLETTE laughs*
[Limu Removal: Fertilizer for Kalo Loi and Time for Talk Story] 00:12:10.100 –> 00:16:50.100
WILLIS: Because when we plan- When we plan a Saturday work day,-
COLETTE: I volunteer…
WILLIS: -we reserve the limu collecting-
COLETTE: To me. Tons of limu
WILLIS:- for Colette. HERB: And we’re taking out tons!
COLETTE: Tons! You know, we got the pictures-
HERB: Literally tons.
WILLIS: That’s right…
COLETTE: Right, right. But what I would tell people as they were coming for the first time to the pond to collect limu, when I’d tell them that we would just dry it out and the taro farmers would come and collect it and use it for their taro patches. And then they thought “Wow! This is cool. At least we are doing something.” Right? “We’re cleaning out the pond and then we’re actually helping the farmers as well.” So that- That was really cool. And so, I just love the limu. I don’t know. It was just- I could see the- the actual power, right? You could actually see it. You could actually get together. I mean, there was a whole technique to it. And on a hot day, it’s cool to be in the pond, right? *laughs* So…
HERB: So what can you share? Like, what is your best technique for limu removal? I know we had all kinds, but what stands out as what you’d want to pass on to the next generation?
COLETTE: Okay, I can tell you what doesn’t work.
COLETTE: I’m going wrong with your one bag and your plain hands are not going to work very well. Especially if you don’t have tabis on, so 1) You gotta have footwear, so put your Japanese-style fishing tabis on, right? Those are the best kind that they stay off the socks, right? Cuz it’s- You’re gonna sink in there. And I’ve seen people try to go just one bag and they try with their hands and they scoop. It’s like, that’s not productive, right? It’s gonna take you a long time. But, if you have a team of people and you have a boat, a small boat that’s near you, and you can have people manning the boat, and you can have a crew all going, if you go in teams of two, in pairs, one person holds the bag open, right, and they use typically- What is it?- like potato sacks- Not potato sacks…
HERB: Burlap bags…
COLETTE: Burlap bags or like-
HERB: What kind of bags were we using? Actually, Fred made some bags for us.
WILLIS: That’s right. He made some bags out of old netting.
COLETTE: Right. And so those were the best, right, cuz you could pile them all up. And then, Fred made those claws, right? I call them the claw-
HERB: Oh, yeah!
COLETTE: Yeah! I love the claw. So it’s got these wooden things and it has these metal points through it, right? So you grab onto the wooden handle and you can scoop- If you go two like this and scoop ’em into the bag [of] the person standing right next to you, and then you just trade off taking turns, right? Because then the person is gonna be sore back after a while if you keep doing that the whole three hours. So you trade off, trade off. And then you have the boat not too far, right? So everybody’s in their pairs, and the boat not too far, and you call the boat over and you dump your bag, right, and then you get another bag and off you go, right? And then you get to fill up the boat with plenty bags and then you bring it out to shore. And everybody was always so proud to be dragging that boat to shore, right, and you just unload all of the bags, right?
HERB: And then you create the big mountain.
COLETTE: Big, big mound, right? And you can actually take picture at the end, right? Next to all your mound, and your all proud of it, with your claws in hand, right? It’s like- I don’t know why it’s so fun for me. And even though, sometimes, you come across crabs, right? Like you get the- I had the big crabs, like the Samoan crabs. I would always tell the students “Don’t go in a circle” Cuz if you go in a circle, you’re not gonna give the crab any place to go, right? Somebody is gonna clawed, right? So spread out, go in pairs, you are in their territory. Just do mind them. Sometimes, you get the little ones, other times, you know…I think somebody did get…
WILLIS: Yup, we did have a student-
COLETTE: And I said “I told you not to go in a circle- *all laugh* -I told you not to do that, right? And it was funny. You’d watch the different groups that would come along, right? The young ones- I would like seeing the families. So, you know, the little kids and then the parents come. And, I think, sometimes, we were doing it for Kamehameha Schools, right? Cuz they got some kind of scholarship and they’re supposed to do hours. So you can tell at the beginning they’re not too thrilled, it’s like a requirement. But sometimes, those kids, at the end, it’s like you could tell they’re just- they’re just so happy to get dirty and muddy. Kind of like me.
HERB: They- We couldn’t get them out.
COLETTE: Yeah! They just wanna stay there forever, right? And it’s like you’re finally giving them permission to get muddy and dirty, right? Like, normally, people are staring at screens, they got earphones on, they’re not really interacting. And the thing about being in the pond, is you can’t have any electronics cuz it’s gonna get- So, now you have to communicate with everybody, right? And communicating with everybody is- I think about how the Hawaiians must’ve worked side-by-side with each other, you know? A lot of talking story must’ve happened in that time. You’re getting to know each other, telling stories, whatever. And so I met a lot of cool people along the way. And watch people grow And see them coming back multiple times. Seeing families come. It’s been kind of cool watching that. Yeah…
[Looking to the Future – Concerns for Invasive Species] 00:16:50.100 –> 00:26:21.600
HERB: Yeah. Willis, how about you? What kind of highlights that could, you know, help students in the future?
WILLIS: Well… I- From my standpoint you know, as a science educator, I would like to have the students visit all aspects of the pond, you know? And something as simple as observing the high water mark and the low water mark can be important because, within that two points, it’s called the intertidal zone. And then there’s certain kinds of organisms that live right in that intertidal zone. But, like I say, you know, if the students have that exposure, it becomes more meaningful-
WILLIS: -when you talk about how- Let’s say the sea snail has to travel up the wall on the kuapā as the tide goes up, and he’s gotta go down the opposite way when the tide goes out, you know? There’s a lot of instinct that animals rely on to survive and that you can observe that. But again, you know, it’s- it’s- it’s that concrete experience and that opportunity to make those observations.
And then- then there’s like a simple thing, like the- the- all the gorilla ogo we were talking about, you know? When they realize that this is an invasive species, they understand how rapidly an invasive species can multiply in the fishpond, you know? For example, a student might come and collect a lot of limu at one visit and then a month later, come back and find out there’s just as many limu as there was the last time he was here, you know?… So that idea that these invasive species can grow without any kind of barriers or restraints, it’s something that they can appreciate and- and for the teacher, you know, when you refer to an organism as being invasive, they understand what you’re talking about, you know? It’s a species that doesn’t have predators or diseases to control the population- their population.
HERB: Yeah… That’s very important, because I mean we- in Hawaii we’re both. We have probably the most invasive, but we also have some of the most remaining native species as well. So it’s kinda like- It’s a delicate balance even now, and I would think, you know, as we project into the future, you know, what is going to be the [consequence]? Now- We live in a- We definitely live in a global, you know, awareness now unlike any other time in history, right, because of technology. So now, as we think about you know, how do we take these lessons learned and experiences that we sort of, you know, we’re able to recapture, you know, from our ancestors that built these four hundred years ago? How do we take these experiences now and what message would you want to leave for the generations of the future in terms of building upon this and projecting for the needs of, you know, the future generations and being able to continue to live in Hawaiʻi? What message would you like to offer them or words of wisdom or advice? You know, going in the future.
WILLIS: Well, you know, right off the top of my head: be careful with what you introduce into Hawaiʻi, you know? Because, um, that plant or animal becomes a different kind of plant or animal when they come to Hawaiʻi, and there can also be other problems related to importing plants and animals from different parts of the world. And sometimes they can bring parasites with them and those parasites can be deadly against our native species, okay? Thatʻs- Thatʻs one problem. So, you know… and, you know, sometimes you can never tell if you’re- For example, if you’re bringing in sardines. In the sardines might be mullets of a different species that- that we have and that mullet becomes competitive with our native mullets. Like, for example, we have the Australian mullet in the- in the Stream here- in the fishpond here. And… It’s- it’s They somehow slipped through, you know? And they might have been good intentions for bringing in outside species, or exotic species, but you end up with unintended consequences. So,-
HERB: It’s hard to go back-
WILLIS: -right off the bat, you gotta be careful about that in the future. Another thing is, you know, there’s a lot to learn about the fishpond. And I think every generation will add more knowledge as to how we can preserve and restore the fishpond, you know. It- It occurred- occurs at different levels. You know, one can be in the physical structure of the fishpond, and the other part would be the functional aspect of the fishpond, such as the ecosystem or-or-or the abundance of fish in the fishpond. One problem we’re facing, for example, right now, and this is for our generation- is the mullet population is declining. And how does that impact the fish pond? Well, the ocean, or in this case, Kāneʻohe Bay, is a source of the young mullet, or the pua, and the pua population is declining as well so… It’s a problem we can solve, but it will take a lot of resolve on the part of people at the fishpond and the community and our, you know, our political leaders because they would have to you know, divert resources to- in attempt to revive the mullet population.
HERB: Do you think that we can propagate fish, as these ponds were originally intended, again?
WILLIS: I believe we have the technology, you know. We have hatcheries, fish- fish hatcheries that can spawn mullets in captivity, which is fairly new technology and, um… The pua can be released into fishpond and also into the wild. You know, so… So that gives you some buying time. That technology gives you buying time to address other concerns dealing with the mullet, such as the the quality of our- of its natural habitat: the Stream, for example, you know. The ocean with a lot of pollution. And, well, even the fish pond has a lot of pollution, and as you know, we’re always cleaning out plastic material from the fish pond. And, you know, in addition to the natural environment, there are regulations that we can improve to make it so that we can, perhaps, place a bag limit on the amount of ʻamaʻama a fisherman can take in any 24 hour, or something like- of that nature, you know, until some point where we can figure out whether we can lift such a restriction. Or there could be some places around the islands that can be kapu, or reserved, for mullet spawning, you know?
Make it an Educational Pond for Future Generations 00:26:21.600 –> 00:36:36.000
HERB: Okay, great! So, Colette, what message would you wanna, based on your experience at the pond and what message would you want to leave for the future generations, and to help, you know, in the stewardship of Hawaiʻi, going forward? And how would fish ponds, you know, be perhaps a catalyst in the future?
COLETTE: Yeah… So, for me, I’m a historian, right, so what I want is my students to experience was sort of like what our ancestors went through, right? So, in the work that’s involved in a fishpond, right, and maintaining a fishpond, and I think I wanted them to kind of understand that our ancestors, our Hawaiian ancestors, were intelligent, they were hard-working, right? And you get that when you start looking at these fishponds. You go “Theyʻre intelligent. Theyʻre hard-working.” It takes a lot to maintain a fishpond. Itʻs smart, itʻs intelligent, itʻs amazing, right? And so I think- and then, what weʻre adding to history now, and I guess in the future, what- I mean besides the scientific sort of stuff. For me, I look at the history part of it and I’m going they need to sort of understand that this pond is a- it’s a community classroom, right? Itʻs what we- what we’ve developed is more than just the fish that’s in the pond. It’s something else that we’ve kind of created in these last twenty-some-odd years, right? Where the whole community has had their hands in this pond, it seems like, right? It brought so many- thousands of students have come here, right? And I would hope that going forward, they would remember that we can bring back our ancient ways, right? In a modern sense, right? We can use both science, the modern science, and we can use the ancient ways, and we can make the best of both of them, right? And we can figure out how to do that.
So this, hopefully, will be an inspiration for it’s- it’s not lost- 1) You don’t have to go back to the way it was in traditional ways you don’t have to. You can bring that forward, take what’s best from that add what we know from science and our modern knowledge and make a go of it. So, maybe, if in the future this becomes a place where we are getting fish and maybe that’s a great thing if we can help, you know propagate fish again. You know, it’s sad that we spend so much money in the stores and we get all our food that’s coming in a Matson containers, right, and we just don’t feed our own people anymore, right? But the pond almost has a secret that maybe we could, in the future, maybe feed our people, right? If we take the best from the past and we combine that with our present knowledge, yeah.
And that’s, I think, that- the lesson of the last 25 years or so, right, is that we can bring both together and really make it an educational pond and I think that’s what’s different about Waikalua Loko, right? This community has invested in it. The community have gotten, you know, the hands dirty, and they come and they participated, and that- It’s- It’s a community pond at that point, right? And that’s amazing. Is it the only pond that’s in, like, uh, purchased in non-profit hands, or are there others?
HERB: Well, there are others that are owned by Kamehameha School already, so they’re- they’re not in jeopardy, but- They’re- Not many of them are, as far as I know, there’s one on Kauaʻi that is, you know, is owned privately and community has kind of taken it over. Alekoko and…But we’re- we’re- we’re the exception to the rule, I think. But, you know, there’s not many ponds left.
COLETTE: Yeah, right. And even in Kāneʻohe, right? Used to be plenty in Kāneʻohe Bay, right? Like there used to be plenty in Pearl Harbor, too, right? And-
COLETTE: Right, and we don’t have them anymore-
HERB: And they’re pretty much-
COLETTE: How many do we have left on this island? Right? So this becomes- This is a great showpiece of how- what could happen, right? Cuz it was almost lost and we brought it back from almost extinction kind.
COLETTE: Many of them have been filled in and all across Kāneʻohe Bay, right? We’ll never see those again, but this one we’re able to bring back to life, right? You were able to do that. And many hands have gone into bringing it back to life. And that’s the amazing part. So, I’m thinking that in the future, when some kids, or grandkids, or whatever, are coming and maybe, when they’re referencing this pond, it’ll be like “Oh yeah! “That’s where my grandpa used to go work.” Or “That’s where we went when we were kids” Right? And these community connections, multiple generations, you would hope that it would perpetuate itself, right? That people feel like they’re invested in this place. We must keep this going, right? And, so that’s kind of amazing, we’re making your own history I guess, by just participating in community work days, coming and getting involved. Yeah… So, to me, that’s the history part of it
HERB: Great, great! I love it. I think it’s great. That’s a- Two different perspectives, but very much integrated in the success of it and, more importantly, how we want to carry those bridges
between these ideas and concepts forward, because they can co-exist. And, you know, we are building bridges between indigenous knowledge and contemporary knowledge, because the problems that we face today are we need all of it, you know? And that is- the connections have been fabulous. Any other last thoughts that you wanna share? That you come to mind, that you haven’t been able to share about this experience so far?
WILLIS: Well, you know, what comes to mind is right over there, on the north side of the Bay, is a fishpond called a Nuʻupia Fishpond and thatʻs an interesting place because itʻs very large and it’s right on the border between Kailua and Kāneʻohe. At one time, the fish pond divided Oʻahu from the peninsula until the road was built to connect the two. So, if, you know, if in the future, the public can get access to that fish pond, there’s another learning experience over there. HERB: Yeah… And that’s owned by the federal government because it’s part of the military base. And hopefully, it’ll be protected as well, for a long time. And we, you know, in our journey over here, we- we did spend some time over there in the early years, trying to learn about how to do fish counts and things like that, you know, with some of the scientists over there, so… Yeah and Kāneʻohe Bay is one of the few places in Hawaiʻi, like Molokaʻi and other and other places where there’s still quite a number of ponds left, you know. So whatever is remaining, you know between Molokaʻi and Kāneʻohe, I think we’re- we’re it. It’s sporadic others in different parts of the island, but in one central place, not as many, right, anymore. Waikiki is gone. You know. Pualoa is gone. I know there are some, you know, organizations that are restoring, you know,… So any last thoughts, Colette?
COLETTE: So the thing that comes to mind as I’m looking at this pond and thinking about just our recent past with this pond is now at Windward Community College, two of our most popular classes, especially for early college- So we have these college classes we’re offering in the high schools and students get dual-credit, right, for high school and college credit, and IS-201 which is our Ahupuaʻa class, is real popular, and it blends the Hawaiian science with the Western science which is- that’s what the class is about, looking at the ahupuaʻa. And then, our AQUA-201 in the lab, which is the fishpond class, right? So, like, we’re struggling now, trying to figure out who’s gonna teach that class. We’re looking for someone who meets the science minimum requirements, right, so we can hire somebody with a Masters in Science, but who can speak Hawaiian language, because the Hawaiian Immersion schools need that class taught for them, right?
COLETTE: So now, we’re at this interesting point where we need more scholars like that It would be great if we could raise up scholars who can teach those classes that are combining the Hawaiian science with the Western science, right, and teaching that in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, in Hawaiian language, in our schools. So, right now, I’m in this sort of quandary, trying to find a teacher who can teach that. So now, there’s a need, and we have a science- there’s a whole science class you can take on fishponds, but just find the teacher for it *laughs* That’s the hard part, right now, right? So if we can raise up some students who’ve come here, gone through, can go and get their science degrees, can learn to speak Hawaiian, and can teach those classes, it’s very popular at the moment, and we’re kind of short on teachers. So that’s what I was thinking about. Cuz it’s- I think of how [interesting]- So many classes- So many schools have asked us for that class because of that combining of science. Hawaiian science with Western science. That’s a tough one, right now. To staff, at the moment.
HERB: So, are you challenging the next generation-
COLETTE: Challenging the next generation, right-
HERB: -to kind of get their act together?
COLETTE: Get their act together. Go get those Masters’ Degrees in whatever the field is and get it in and learn your Hawaiian language cuz if we can blend the two, man, there’s no stopping us. Yeah.
WILLIS: Well, the university had a similar problem with not being able to offer Marine Biology as a understudy program, so a group of students and professors got together and they designed what is called Marine Option Program.-
COLETTE: Yeah, that’s right…
HERB: At WCC…[Windward Community College]
WILLIS: Yeah, so, you know, there might be a Fishpond Option Program-
COLETTE: Yes! Let’s get that going.
WILLIS: -where part of the curriculum involves the fishpond. Up to so many hours, you know…
COLETTE: Start training them here *laughs* So we can get ’em to teach more classes…
HERB: Yes, we want that. We want that… We want that…
COLETTE: And bring the students out here…Right…
COLETTE: Okay, thank you!
HERB: Are we good?
HERB: I think we’re good, guys.
COLETTE: Alright, thank you *laughs*
WILLIS: Thank you very much, everybody.
–> 00:36:36.000 *[End of audio interview]
[Transcription by Kauilaokahekiliokalani (Kauila) Freitas-Pratt, Student Assistant Transcriber]