Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park
The Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, established in 1978, is located along the North Kona coast of the island of Hawai‘i, between Kona International Airport and Kailua-Kona. Kaloko-Honokōhau sits below the summit of the Hualālai volcano (which is about 10 miles to the east) and can be reached via the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway (Hwy 19).
The Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park (Fig. 1) is famous for the Kaloko and ‘Aimakapā fishponds along with the ‘Ai`ōpio Fishtrap. The park also contains anchialine ponds, a fishing heiau, and the coastal sections of two ahupua‘a: Kaloko and Honokōhau. Ahupua‘a were traditional land units governed by ali‘i, or chiefs, and were used to divided up the land and its resources before European contact. The ahupua‘a of Kaloko and Honokōhau extend from the upper slopes of the Hualālai volcano down to the coast and out into the ocean.
The park lands are covered with a‘a and pāhoehoe basaltic lava fields. Pre-European people were able to create a livable environment out of what at first glance, seems like harsh conditions. They used surrounding basalt rock to build agricultural, fishing, and religious structures that can be seen, either as complete reconstructions or restored edifices, in the park today.
The `Ai`ōpio Fishtrap. (Photo by Beth Amann)
Off the shore of Honokohau Beach lies the remnants of the `Ai`ōpio Fistrap, as indicated by black, basalt boulders. There was an opening in the trap to the sea that allowed fish to enter. The structure was walled in to store the fish during a shorter period of time compared to the fishponds. How this would work is that at high tide, fish would swim through the seaward entrance or over the submerged walls. During low tide, the fish would thus be trapped within the enclosed structure, allowing them to easily be netted. Therefore, unlike the ponds, the fish were not raised in fishtraps ( http://www.nps.gov/kaho/historyculture/aiopio-fishtrap.htm ).
To Whom Does the Land Belong?
It's important to note that the lands of the National Historic Park were once occupied by people who had ancestral ties to the land and its cultural features. When the land was seceded to the National Park Service (NPS) by one of the occupants, there were some disagreements between the National Park Service and some of those who occupied and had cultural ties to the land. In Hawai'i there are some that feel resentment towards the National Park Services for taking up ancestral lands and there are others that have worked with the NPS and were able to establish a good relationship. This complicated issue continues to today. More can be found at http://www.hawaii-nation.org/pai-victory.html
The"kaupa" of the Kaloko Fishpond. (Photo by Lauren Roeglin)
The fishponds and fistrap found at the Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park are walled-in areas along the shore where fish were raised. One of the two fishponds located within the park is the Kaloko Fishpond. These fishponds belonged to the ali`i, who would distribute the fish as needed to feed the common people or those of his court. Stone walls, or kuapā in Hawaiian , that extend off-shore mark the boundary of the Kaloko Fishpond. The design of the kuapā (fishpond walls) displays the engineering intellect of the people who constructed them. The basalt rocks that make up the walls were dry-set by hand. This means that no mortar or cementing agent was used to hold these rocks together. Some refer to this method of construction as "listening to the stones" in order to find their appropriate placement. One downfall of this method is that it creates unstable edges, as is appropriately warned by park signs. So how would such a structure hold up against incoming waves? Because the kuapā were constructed using basaltic stone, water from incoming tides could flow into and through the structure. This worked to absorb the battering power of the waves. The kuapā are also angled on the seaward face in such a way as to deflect waves. Its also been found that the placement of the kuapā is such that it these structures receive waves at a point where the wave energy has been significantly diminished. However, with all things, time had taken a toll on the original kuapā and work to restore the fishpond structures at the Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park began in 1998. Work continues today to maintain and restore these features along the park's coast (nps).
Banner photo by Ross Auna