The loko iʻa fishpond in Haleiwa, traditionally named Loko Ea is a rare, significant cultural site nestled on Oʻahu’s North Shore. Loko Ea is located in the ahupuaʻa of Kawailoa, a land division from mountain to sea, in the moku land district of Waialua. The area is traditionally known for its profusion of fresh water springs and flowing streams. Famous was the moku of Waialua for its abundance and fertility, where mahiʻai farmers and kanaka lawaiʻa fishermen could sustain their families with bountiful harvests.
Loko Ea and Ukoʻa are two distinct loko puʻuone, sand-dune ponds near the ocean shore, connected to the sea by a stream or ditch, found in the district of Waialua. Connected physically through the streams and freshwater springs, they are also spiritually connected, as both are the home to Laniwahine, the moʻowahine female water guardian of the two fishponds. Together, they make up the third largest existing wetland on the island of Oʻahu.
Loko Ea is indeed an ancestral place of importance, a significant Wahi Pana to the people of Waialua. The site is associated with ancient deities, cultural practices and historical events. This fishpond once helped to sustain its community by providing aquatic food resources like native fish and seaweed. Over time, Loko Ea has unfortunately taken on an unprecedented amount of stress due to surrounding developments, mismanagement of resources and lack of continuous cultural practices. Today, Loko Ea is on a path to restoration with the help of the Mālama Loko Ea Foundation.
“Ancient Waialua was the oracle center of Oʻahu. With its extensive cultivated fields of kalo, it was considered the “poi bowl” of the island. Nothing much remains to remind us of it metaphysical glory and economic importance, but stories of its importance in history still survive. The moku land district of Waialua is a large area of approximately 78 sq miles and includes 14 ahupuaʻa subdistricts from Kaʻena to Kawailoa. From the first Western view by Captain Clerke in 1779, Waialua was seen as a land with rich fertile soil. The oral traditions also tell of excellent fishing grounds and large fishponds.” 1
“The landscape of Waialua with its legends, chants, places and names confirmed that a direct relationship existed between the land and its caretakers. The place names not only describe the emotional state of important events that took place, but also the aloha ʻāina, that is, “love for the land and the people of the land.” These place names strengthened the tie to family as well as to place. In many ways, names were links with the past.” 1
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