Located in Ahupua'a 'O Kahana State Park on O'ahu Island, Hawaii, rests the remains of the Native Huilua Fishpond. After heavy tsunamis in the 20th century and neglect to upkeep, the fishpond serves primarily as a National Historical Landmark. Though, its stonewall still stands hugging the pond and sharing its archaeological and fish-farming wonders. Huilua is one of six fishponds to survive out of about 97 that once provided for the tribes on the coast of O’ahu. Packed with knowledge of aqua-farming mullet and Native Hawaiian rituals, people can absorb preserved culture while enjoying the peace and beauty of the pond.
Huilua is one of six fishponds to survive of a total
of about 97 that once provided to the tribes on the coast of O’ahu. At one point there was a 500-foot rock wall hand-built
to enclose the pond, nearly seven acres.
The wall was built to stand four feet above high tide and had gates to
allow fish to swim freely in and out of the pond. Once the fish grew too large to leave the
gate, they were trapped and ready for harvest.
The Polynesian Hawaiians advanced in their aquafarming with this kind of
“tide-dependent fish trapping” and were considered some of the most successful
Pacific fish hunters. Not to mention,
the fishpond is strategically joined with the Kahana Stream and other
freshwater springs that flow into the sea.
This mixed environment makes for a perfectly thriving home for mullets
and fingerlings. In addition the local
fish, tora (kalo) was a vital crop to the Native’s culture, providing not only nutrition
but is thought to be sacred.
Huilua is located on
the east side of the bay within one of O’ahu’s most wet valleys. The exact age of the fishpond remains a
mystery. Though, legend has it that the dwarf-like
natives, Menehune, built and resided by the pond, suggesting that it could be
1,000 years or more old. The stonewall
border of the pond still stands to provide fish to the locals; however it is
much smaller now than historically intended.
The stones were reconstructed with additional materials in 1993 to slow
down deterioration. The community of ‘O
Kahana State Park works to maintain the condition the wall as well.
Two major tsunamis have
struck Huilua Fishpond, once in 1947 and another in 1960. Plants like mangrove trees and bulrushes
sprouted from the waters. You will also
find Koa trees and colourful pōhuehue flowers.
You can learn more this Native Fishpond at the park’s visitor center. While you’re there, take advantage of the
rest of the park as well! Ahupua’a ‘O
Kahana State Park features hiking trails, picnicking areas, camping, scenic
views of the Fishpond and tons of other eye-gripping beauty. Best of all, there are NO entrance fees! Enjoy.