Kauaʻi is the oldest of the eight main Hawaiian islands and throughout my trip, I was able to learn about the history of the Alakoko loko iʻa. A loko iʻa is a fishpond created and maintained in a traditional Hawaiian manner. Alakoko was taken over by mangroves which are an invasive species here in the Hawaiian islands. Kuleana means to take responsibility. I am not from Hawaiʻi, so for me to come into such a beautiful and sacred place, it is my kuleana is to be respectful and kilo. Kilo is the practice of watching, observing, and being focused. Mālama Hulēʻia are the current stewards of Alakoko and partnering with them we listened to their vision and future goals for the continuing efforts to restore the loko iʻa.
While doing so, I was part of an onsite visit to gain an understanding of Hawaiian culture and values. I felt extremely grateful to be able to listen to the team and their stories. They reflected on the past, how their ancestors were once able to stay self-sustained because of the loko iʻa, and how they formed bonds and passed on practices to the next generation. All of this despite how invasive species have played a huge role in the displacement of communities. Now, with the restoration, Alakoko is coming back to life to feed its ohana.