Huli Ka Lima i Lalo – Connecting with ʻĀina Through Hands On Experience

Hawaiʻi Lifeʻs Conservation and Legacy Lands initiative encompasses the actual practice of listing and representing buyers in conservation transactions; engaging our agents, clients, customers and colleagues in learning about and providing financial support for conservation in Hawaiʻi; and increasingly, connecting our network of people directly with organizations who are doing the real work of stewarding important places in Hawaiʻi. The ʻolelo noʻeau or  proverb Huli ka lima i lalo points us to the importance of putting our hands to work, especially when it comes to learning about and caring for ʻāina.

still photo of woman talking to camera on beach

The late Lily Namakaokaiʻa Kong on family lands at Keauhou, talking about the importance of knowing how to use your hands in the soil – Photo taken from our HLCLL video

Hawaii Life Returns to Alakoko Fishpond for the 5th Anniversary of Mālama Hulēʻia

Last year a group of Hawaiʻi Life agents, employees, friends and family spent a day volunteering at Alakoko Fishpond on Kauai. At the time we talked in different ways about how we were beginning a relationship with the place and the organization, not just collecting an experience. On October 21, 2023 some of us returned and others joined us, to be a part of a massive undertaking to rebuild around 2,700 linear feet of a 600-year old dry stack stone wall that defines the loko iʻa or traditional Hawaiianline fish pond by separating it from the Hulēʻia river.

huleiia river

Thousands of volunteers begin gathering along the banks of the Huleiʻia River to rebuild 2700 feet of traditional dry stack stone wall

Historically this river was the backbone of a significant sustainable food system, feeding taro patches and multiple fishponds, along with the resource of the fish and shellfish within the river itself. There are at least six types of fishponds developed by Hawaiians. The one at Alakoko is a loko kuapa. This type of pond is near the coast, where sweet water from a stream mixes with salt water for the ocean. Brackish water in the pond supports a variety of life, and sluices allow huge numbers of immature fish to exit, supporting healthy fish populations in coastal waters and the deep ocean.

team of people builing stone wall in hawaii river

Our Hawaii Life team (CEO Matt Beall in the Hawaii Land Trust shirt) wades upstream to our assigned wall building location. Photo Credit: Tara Malchiodi

The organization Mālama Huleiʻa recruited volunteers from other local non-profits who worked for weeks to learn about traditional stone wall building so they could serve as leaders for the small groups that would be organized from almost 2,000 volunteers on the big day. Lifting and passing rocks for hours is hard work and we felt it for days after the event!

The work part of the day concluded with chants and protocol led by kumu hula. In the afternoon volunteers enjoyed live Hawaiian music, food, and even a screen printing tent so we could have a shirt or bag printed with a commemorative image to remember the day.

people standing after building stone wall

After the work was done, there was music, food and screen printing of commemorative t-shirts. Typical of local events and parties, a participant in the workday jumped up to offer hula as a young volunteer watches. Someday she might point to a section of the wall and tell her children or grandchildren she helped build it.

Most aloha ʻāina sites, Hawaiian places that are being restored and stewarded for cultural preservation, agriculture and environmental protection, welcome volunteers. If you would like to contribute with the blisters on your hands and sweat on your brow, whether you are a visitor or resident of Hawaiʻi, we would be happy to connect you up with organizations in need of support.

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Liza Pierce

October 27, 2023

I was with you all last year when we spent a day volunteering at Alakoko Fishpond. I wish I could have gone this time too (but couldnʻt fly from Maui at that time). Mahalo Beth for this blog, for sharing about this wonderful event and Mālama Huleiʻa.

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)

October 27, 2023

> Thanks for reading and commenting, Liza. Last year was also a life-changing experience!

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