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Lālākea Loko I‘a (fishpond) Restoration Event, Waipi'o
"...make the Valley whole once again"
Almost 71 years ago to the day, efforts will officially begin, to reactivate Lālākea Loko I‘a (fishpond) in Waipi‘o Valley that was devastated by the 1946 Tsunami that struck the Hawai‘ian Islands.
April 7, 2017, 8 a.m., Waipi‘o Valley Lookout and Valley, Hawai‘i - The Lālākea Loko Wai Hui, the Honokaa community, and members of the Kua’aina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA, a statewide network of Hawai‘ian fishpond care practitioners) will gather at the lookout for welcome protocols. They will then descend to the Valley floor to gather once again at the punawai (spring) of Lālākea fishpond. At the spring, KUA members will add a rock from their Loko I‘a to a kuahu built to commemorate the ponds rebirth.
It was early morning, around 7 a.m., April Fools Day 1946, when one of the worst tsunamis ever to strike the Hawai‘ian Islands, also invaded the quiet, peaceful Waipi‘o Valley on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island, Hawai‘i. Hilo and Laupahoehoe were hardest hit. A total of 159 people were killed island-wide. The tsunami also devastated the Lālākea Loko I‘a fishpond (along with a few others on Maui and Oahu) that had been used by the people of Waipi‘o for centuries.
The spearhead & leader of the group's restoration efforts, Kenrock Higa said, "It is with great anticipation that our family and network of dear friends are dedicating themselves to restore the precious waiwai (wealth) of Waipi‘o." Higa continued, "The Hamakua community cordially invites all people who share a love for na wahi pana o Waipi‘o e Lālākea Loko I‘a to join with us for the reactivation ceremony at the fishpond."
"Waipi‘o Valley was once the ancient capital of Hawai‘i Island and remains today as one of the last defined ahapuaa. The waiwai of an ahapuaa is its precious water. Lālākea was so prized in antiquity that many battles raged around it and several invaders tried to destroy the pond because of their disdain for the Waipi‘o based Chiefs. It is our good fortune to observe the waiwai of Lālākea continue to give life. Therefore, we are dedicating ourselves to the reactivation of the fishpond. It is my firm belief that the fishpond's reactivation is the key to healing Waipi‘o Valley and will make the valley whole once again," Higa said. "The task ahead is challenging, however, through aloha, the reactivation of Lālākea Loko I‘a will be achieved. Please join us in this worthy cause," he concluded.
Higa said he is returning to the source of his Hawai‘ian heritage because he feels a strong attraction "to my ancestors,"..."I feel my ancestors would be happy" about the restoration of the fishpond. "I feel like I'm going home," he said.
Kenrock K. S. Higa is a LT. COLONEL, USA, Retired. He currently lives on Oahu with his wife and 'ohana. In the months ahead, he will be moving to the Island of Hawai'i to focus on the restoration effort.
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