Physical Features of He'eia Fishpond
The purpose of the kuapa was to divide the sea or stream from the water inside of the fishpond. Sometimes, secondary inner walls were built to separate and protect the young fish (pua) from predators within the main area of the fishpond. He'eia Fishpond wall lengths ranged between 3 feet to 40 feet wide in various places (Henry, 1993).
Through observation of He'eia Fishpond kuapa today, you would find many large pieces of coral among the lava rock. It is possible that the Hawaiians were aware of the characteristics of coralline algae, a lime-secreting seeweed that was a natural binding agent on reefs. As a result, coralline algae would "cement" together portions of the coral and rock fill so that the fishpond wall was strengthened (Summers, 1964).
makaha is a grate or grill placed in an opening in the rock
wall. It is constructed of upright sticks tied to two or three cross
beams. The makaha allows both water and pua to enter
the fishpond while keeping undesirable fish (such as predators) out.
Construction of a makaha always began with a religious ceremony by the
priest (kahuna) of the family gods ('aumakua). He
offered prayers and gifts to increase fish productivity. Then the kahuna
would reach for a timber and set it up for the building of the makaha
followed by a closing prayer. After the makaha was built, foundation
stones and pebbles were laid on the bottom (Summers, 1964).
Hale kia'i are guard houses that was not a residence, but instead a shelter for the fishpond keeper (ki'ai loko) while he was on patrol. Each fishpond had one or more ki'ai loko who reported to the konohiki. They patrolled the pond, cleaned it, and harvested the fish (Henry, 1993).
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