Education is the kua or backbone of the Hui o Kuapā mission. Hui o Kuapā educates the local and global community about Native Hawaiian resource management and innovations through hands on experience in the fishponds or loko iʻa as well as through advocacy of native rights and issues. The organization has been instrumental in raising awareness about the need to care for our planet and food security in rural communities. It proudly continues to carry out that mission today.
For over 25 years, Hui o Kuapā has championed traditional Hawaiian aquaculture. By hosting community organizing events to teach about sustainable fishing practices and train local community members in advocacy, the fishpond movement garnered support from key officials like Governor John Waihe‘e who established the Moloka‘i Fishpond Task Force and Senator Daniel K. Inouye, who took personal interest in the effort and helped to direct over $1.4 million in federal funds through the Environmental Protection Agency to support fishpond restoration and the study of their ecosystem services.
Watch: For the past 28 years, Hui o Kuapā has tirelessly worked to restore traditional practices and cultural pride in an effort to find sustainable solutions for the future.
HELP RESTORATION EFFORTS:
years strong. Hui o Kuapā restores traditional knowledge and cultural pride, utilizing the wisdom of our kūpuna to build a resilient future for all of Hawai‘i.
pokahu have been set by Hui o Kuapā staff, partners and volunteers at loko i‘a across Moloka‘i and Hawai‘i.
haumana (students) and community groups have learn from the Hui o Kuapā team at educational events across Hawai‘i about the importance of traditional Hawaiian knowledge and sustainability.
Loko iʻa are meant to feed the people and with that purpose they are a critical resource to food security in the rural areas. Before western contact, there were over 400 loko i‘a in Hawai‘i feeding the population. In 1989, Hui o Kuapā was established on Molokaʻi to restore traditional fishponds, a movement that continues to gain ground today.
Working with the local community Hui o Kuapā, rebuilds and rediscovers traditional knowledge to build and manage loko iʻa. By working with the rocks, water, marine life and other natural resources Hui o Kuapā has established a fully functional loko iʻa. Since its establishment, Hui o Kuapā has travelled to neighboring loko iʻa across the islands to share their knowledge and expertise. Thanks to their long-standing dedication, numerous nonprofit organizations focusing on fishpond restoration have been formed following Hui o Kuapā’s model and a number of loko iʻa in Hawai‘i are in the process of being fully restored.
Hui o Kuapā also links environmental restoration to cultural restoration. The team teaches about the importance of cultural pride and the ingenuity of Hawaiian sustainability. By reinforcing how traditional Hawaiian natural resource management practices maintained a healthy population for 2,000 years prior to western contact, Hui o Kuapā helps to show community members in Hawai‘i today how food security can once again be achieved.
Hui o Kuapā has been a leader in promoting ʻike Hawaiʻi, traditional knowledge, throughout their 25-year history. The organization plays a vital role in advancing Hawaiian innovation and engineering, as the staff and practitioners continuously refine practices within their environment discovering and rediscovering methods of maintaining traditional ecosystems and food systems while maintaining their fragile ecological surroundings. Native Hawaiians were ingenious in their ability to live with the lowest environmental footprint and through emulating their practice Hui o Kuapā is researching ways to make modern living more sustainable.
Loko iʻa represent one of the most advanced methods of fish farming of the ancient people of the Pacific. Hui o Kuapā works to promote traditional practices in food security and engineering while also participating in cutting-edge research and adapting modern techniques to compliment and enhance fishpond management. Through its years of experience, the organization continues to develop and teach people throughout Hawaiʻi the processes involved in fishpond construction, fish husbandry, conservation, and sustainable food systems.
As a leader in environmental stewardship, Hui o Kuapā recognizes the delicate balance between resource availability and our natural environment. As one of the only loko iʻa actively managed in Hawai‘i, the fishpond practitioners at Hui o Kuapā provide critical real-time climate change adaption by utilizing various bioshields and other proven fortification techniques consistent with those found throughout the Pacific Islands to help protect cultural resources and low-lying areas.
Through collaboration with local and national partners including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Oceanic Institute, Conservation International Hawai‘i, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Hawai‘i Pacific University, Polynesian Voyaging Society, Mālama ‘Āina Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and others, Hui o Kuapā is at the forefront of climate change efforts in the Pacific, aquaculture activities, promoting food security, environmental and cultural education, traditional landscape restoration, and engaging in advocacy efforts and environmental protection in Hawaiʻi.
Moloka‘i traditions tell us that centuries ago, thousands of people– probably a third of all the residents on the island– came together to pass stones hand-to- hand over the steep mountainous terrain separating the north and south shores of Moloka‘i. Like a lei adorning the island, they stood shoulder to shoulder, transporting the basalt rocks that would become the kuapā of the sixty-eight loko iʻa that once existed on the south-facing side of the island, the northern seas and shoreline being too rough for such structures. From a bird’s eye view, the fishponds themselves became like a lei gracing and adorning Molokaʻi, the island child of Hina. Long before the loko iʻa were built, Hina herself walked along the southern coast, creating fresh water springs by plunging her ʻōʻō into the soft earth.
Hui o Kuapā, a non-profit organization, founded in 1989 and began restoring fishponds across Moloka‘i starting with ʻUalapuʻe followed by Honouliwai, Kahinapōhaku and Keawanui. Molokaʻi youth were engaged in this process, which included both labor on the ‘āina and leadership training. Hui o Kuapā shifted to focus on the revitalization of ʻOhalahala, Kūmimi in 2020.