Preserving and Perpetuating Native Hawaiian Culture through Fishpond Restoration
The Hawaiian Native Corporation (HNC) | DAWSON, has been at the forefront of supporting and preserving Native Hawaiian culture through our ongoing commitment to fishpond restoration. One of our very first significant partnerships was established in 2011 with Paepae o He’eia, the ancient Hawaiian fishpond located in He’eia, Oahu. With an incredible historical and cultural significance dating back to the 14th century, Paepae o He’eia stands as a testament to the sustainable aquaculture practices of the Hawaiian people.
Built using traditional Hawaiian techniques, Paepae o He’eia showcases the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Native Hawaiians. By utilizing rocks and coral to create a protective wall around the pond, the fishpond allowed for controlled seawater flow while safeguarding against predators. This intricate design facilitated the natural circulation of water, maintaining a healthy environment for fish to thrive. For centuries, the fishpond served as a vital source of sustenance for the Hawaiian people while also playing a pivotal role in cultural and spiritual practices.
Today, the Paepae o He’eia fishpond is lovingly preserved and managed by the Paepae o He’eia organization, led by Executive Director Hiʻilei Kawelo. Established in 2001, this non-profit organization is dedicated to restoring and maintaining the fishpond, while also educating visitors and local communities about its cultural and ecological significance. Through their tireless efforts, the organization ensures that the ancient traditions and wisdom associated with Paepae o He’eia continue to thrive.
HNC | DAWSON’s commitment to preserving Native Hawaiian culture extends beyond Paepae o He’eia. We have also partnered with HōʻalaʻĀina Kūpono nonprofit to restore the Huilua Fishpond located in Kahana Bay on the island of Oahu. Of the estimated 97 fishponds once present on Oahu’s coast, Huilua is one of the few remaining. Its 500-foot rock seawall, encircling 7 acres of Kahana Bay, showcases the ancient Hawaiians’ advanced aquafarming practices.
On April 22, 2023, as part of the Aloha ʻĀina Earth Day celebrations, HNC | DAWSON employees and other dedicated volunteers gathered at Kahana Bay’s Huilua fishpond. Our mission was to contribute to the rebuilding and restoration efforts of this vital cultural treasure. Over 40 volunteers actively participated in the seven-hour project, engaging in various restoration activities, including repairing the wall and laying the foundation of large boulders. HNC | DAWSON’s commitment also extended to digging trenches to ensure optimal water flow within the fishpond, facilitating its ecological balance.
HNC | DAWSON’s steadfast support for the preservation of Native Hawaiian culture through fishpond restoration stands as a shining example of corporate responsibility. Our collaboration with organizations like Paepae o He’eia and HōʻalaʻĀinaKūpono demonstrates a deep commitment to revitalizing and maintaining these ancient cultural and historical sites. By actively engaging employees and volunteers in restoration efforts, HNC | DAWSON is making a significant impact on the preservation of Native Hawaiian traditions, ensuring they continue to inspire and educate generations to come.