ʻIke kūpuna

The bones live

Ola Na Iwi (Olelo No`eau pg 272: 2488)

Said of our ancestors who came before us and surround us with their presence daily.

Our Waikalua Loko I’a is place where one can kilo, a`o, malama, and maha. This community classroom, is built on iwi of our kupuna, who have laid the foundation to our present future embracing 21st century knowledge.

Mahalo e na Kupuna!

Unit 1 | E Komo

Preparing for Your Visit to the Fishpond

Unit 2 | Nā Loko Iʻa ma ka Ahupuaʻa

Fishponds of the Ahupuaʻa
In this unit, you will learn more about the different types of loko iʻa found in ahupuaʻa of Hawaiʻi, why they are an important habitat and what they can teach us about how our kupuna thrived.

Unit 3 | E Ola i ka Loko

Life in a Fishpond
In this unit, you will learn about the plants and animals that live in a fishpond and how they depend on each other to survive.

Unit 4 | Nā Mea Kanu

Plants of Waikalua Loko ʻIa
Review these lessons to learn about the different types of plants found around Waikalua fishpond. These plants include both native and invasive species.

Unit 5 |I ka mā wa hope

Looking to the Future
Review these lessons to learn how humans have impacted the ‘āina over the years. Also, you will discover different ways to care for and connect this special place.


In the days of old Hawai’i, this ahupua’a flourished with productive lo’i kalo (taro patches) fed by the waters of Kawa and Kāne’ohe streams.

The waters flowed from the streams through ‘auwai (ditches) into the loʻi and into the loko I’a (fishponds). At Waikalua Loko today we discover the ingenuity of Hawaiians who engineered these extensive irrigation and aquaculture systems.

Waikalua Loko Fishpond is a loko kuapā—a type of fishpond that is unique to these Islands.* The fishpond we see today is very different from the pond that was constructed by Hawaiians approximately 350 years ago. The original pond received fresh water from both Kāneʻohe and Kawa streams. Grates once controlled the flow of water from these streams into the pond so that pond managers could control the salinity of the water. The original locations of the mākāhā (sluice grates) on the makai side and the dimensions of the pond walls are not known, but more research could probably shed light on this information.

1650   Estimated date of original construction by Hawaiians.   (Eugene Dashiell et al, 1995)
1887 The pond has extensive lo’i kalo mauka and a small interior pond where mullet fry were probably grown.
1900 The pond’s area of 13.4 acres was in full commercial operation.  Today the pond is 11.6 acres).
1926 There was a large break in the makai pond wall.
1930 The pond walls (mākāhā) were constructed of reinforced concrete, with stone faces filled with cobbles and coral, and with three openings.  The 9 to 12 feet wide wall may have been widened for access by equipment. 
1940-1950 Water quality and the marine environment have been impacted by human activities. More than 11 million cubic yards of coral was dredged in Kāne’ohe Bay and sugar and pineapple cultivation led to extensive soil erosion and siltation of the bay. A sewage outfall was constructed near Waikalua Loko.
1967 An aerial photo shows a channelized Kawa Stream that flows directly into the bay. Today the mouth of this stream is covered in silt and mangrove. This same photo shows a ditch next to the pond and the sewage treatment plant that appears to connect both streams. Ongoing development in the uplands of the Kāne’ohe ahupua’a created serious soil erosion into the bay. Introduced mangrove plants became a major management challenge at the pond. Mr. Koyama, the pond operator in the 1960s, reported a mullet harvest of 100 pounds per month (not a commercially viable yield).
1970 Pond operation stopped. Flood control efforts led to channelization of Kāne’ohe Stream, which was dammed at Ho’omaluhia Park. Portions of Kawa Stream were lined with concrete and the stream was further channelized. Sewage discharge to Kāne’ohe Bay was stopped and diverted to Mōkapu Point.
1995 The Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society was formed to help mālama the pond for use as an educational site.
1998 Castle High School Science Teacher, Sheila Cyboron, brings first group of students (grade 11 and 12) to study science in the context of the fishpond;The transformation in student motivation and learning inspires a new level of culture-based curriculum development.
2000 WLFPS partners with the Pacific American Foundation (PAF), the Hawaii Department of Education and and the University of Hawaii Sea Grant program and receives its first major curriculum development grant award from the U. S. Department of Education entitled “Kāhea Loko, the Call of the pond.”
2003 Kāhea Loko program is welcomed by teachers; statewide workshops are scheduled and over 330 teachers sign up for training in the standards-based curriculum.
2004 Pacific American Foundation, the Society, the Hawaii DOE partner again and receive its second major grant award called “Aloha ‘Āina.” It focuses on the Kāne’ohe ahupua’a (mountain to the sea).
2007 Aloha ‘Āina is also a very welcome addition to schools’ curricula and the project trains nearly 380 teachers; both Kāhea Loko and Aloha ‘Āina receive a “Partners in Education” award from the Hawaii Department of Education.
2009 In partnership with the University of Hawaii at Windward and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, the Society and PAF, the U. S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awards the group a grant to purchase the Waikalua Loko Fishpond and grant title to PAF.
2011 The Historic Hawai’i Foundation selects the Waikalua Loko Fishpond and the Society with its highest honor for exemplary preservation of a cultural resource.
2013 PAF acquires Waikalua Loko (17 plus acres) from current landowner utilizing HUD funds. First ancient Hawaiian fishpond to return to Hawaiian hands since the great mahele in 1848.
2014 PAF receives another major award from the U.S. Department of Education under the Native Hawaiian Education Act called “Kulia” that focus on students grade 7 -12 on the Windward Side of Oahu to pursue studies and career opportunities in natural resources management, marine science and conservation; PAF becomes ‘Hub” partner with NOAA, EPA, HIMB, University of Hawaii Windward and the Smithsonian Institute to accelerate collective impact.
2015 PAF Hawaii Inc. is created to maximize benefits and support from State and Local governments as a long-term sustainable strategy to continue education, cultural preservation and environment stewardship of site and surrounding areas.
Today Since 2000, over 4,000 teachers have been trained in the various curricula developed by PAF (see Ulukau.org; Search: Hawaiian curriculum materials) Approximately 5,000 students, families and community members visit the pond every year to learn about this special place. Community members regularly come to care for the pond (Lā Hana) –to remove invasive mangrove, seaweed, pick up marine debris, and repair walls.

The work of students, community groups, and the Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society has breathed new life back into Waikalua Loko. As each stone is put back on the wall and each native plant takes root, we build the foundation for a healthier future that honors the rich cultural and natural heritage of the Kāne’ohe ahupua’a.

Na Oli (Chants)