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Malama Hule‘ia celebrates first community work day following pandemic

NIUMALU — Robyn Pettersen of the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank said she could be umpiring a baseball game Saturday, but instead she was one of about a hundred community volunteers from Kalaheo through Wailua who turned out to spend the morning cleaning the Alakoko “Menehune” Fishpond area with Malama Hule‘ia leaders, including Sara Bowen, Peleke Flores and others.

The community workday was held to mark the return of people following the long period of isolation and quarantining due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and to celebrate the transfer of Alakoko Fishpond to the community.

“I have baseball games on Saturday mornings,” Pettersen said. “But Kelvin, the KIFB executive director, said these are our neighbors, so we come to help.”

A release from the Trust for Public Land said that nonprofit organizations raised $196,000 from the local community to support the continued stewardship of Alakoko as an outdoor classroom where students can learn the science, history and culture of traditional Hawaiian aquaculture.

Kat Ho, a part of Malama Hule‘ia, said her daughter is working on the Alakoko restoration as part of her doctorate thesis. Ho was busy documenting the day’s activities for submission to her daughter, who is off-island in college.

“They want me to do a moon-calendar piece similar to the one on the Niumalu pavilion,” Ho said. “We’re starting to assemble materials for that ceramic piece in the shed. Once we get started, I’ll be here more

Other artists like muralist Seth Womble and the Mo‘olelo Murals’ Holly Ka‘iakapu were among the volunteers that were broken up into three groups.

One of the groups was involved in learning more about Alakoko from Flores. Another was tasked with pulling out mangrove that were starting to reappear in cleared areas, and the third group was involved in maintaining and expanding the lo‘i area on the western end of the fishpond.

“We discovered several springs that have origins in Alakoko,” said Jan TenBruggencate, who came to check on the group’s activity. “Additionally, there’s a stream that goes around the perimeter of the fishpond. Where they all come together is where we’re doing the lo‘i system.”

Bowen, Malama Hule‘ia executive director, said they are hopeful that there will be more community workdays.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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