Looking out into Heʻeia Fishpond, I can see many years of hard work right before my eyes. My ancestors spent years passing rocks from mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean). The intelligence of our kupuna is why this fishpond has been feeding so many past generations. It was the legacy that was left for my generation’s kuleana to maintain this fishpond. I’ve volunteered at Paepae ʻo Heʻeia numerous times and each time I go, the experience makes me want to come back even more.
Both boys and girls basketball teams from Maryknoll met at Heʻeia State Park and began working around 8:45 am. Our responsibilities for that day included cutting mangrove, moving rocks and removing invasive limu.
In the past, mangrove once circled the entire fishpond. With the help of everyone who volunteered that day, we were able to get rid of the vast majority of it. We were then instructed to cut the mangrove at the root then pile them up which were then to be burned. This task required stepping into the muddy water. While hunched over, all you could feel were crabs creeping up your legs. This made the experience a lot more adventurous.
"All you could feel were crabs creeping up your legs. This made the experience a lot more adventurous."
While my group took care of the mangroves, the other group was in charge of moving rocks across the river and loading them into the truck. By looking at the size of those rocks, many of them needed to be carried by two people. Those rocks were used to rebuild parts of the wall that had been deteriorated over time. When both groups were done, the staff took us on a tour of the fishpond.
On the tour, we visited different hales and was taught the history and significance of He’eia. When the tour was pau (finished), we finally got to jump in the water. That day, there were lots of invasive limu in the fishpond that had to be taken out. There were about 50 bags that needed to be filled. With everyone’s cooperation, the group filled them within twenty minutes.
The most important thing I took out of this community service project was the gratitude I had towards my ancestors and to everyone who helped out. The overall impact that my peers and I made that day felt so satisfying. In a short amount of time, we all came together to fulfill our goal in taking care of He’eia Fishpond.