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He'eia Fishpond
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Physical Features of He'eia Fishpond

     The main physical features of He'eia Fishpond include seawalls (kuapa), gates and sluice grates (makaha) , and guard houses (hale kia'i). fishpond wall pic

     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).

     coral picThrough 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).

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Let's see the details of how fishpond kuapa were built.
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makaha pic       The 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).

gate pic     Ancient makaha were built to be unmovable. Addition of a solid gate in combination with the makaha evolved later. With the makaha in place, the solid gate was used to control the flow and water level in the pond without releasing any fish. When the gate was opened at high tide, water would flow into the pond. When the gate opened at low tide, the fishpond was drained and this helped clean the pond. The opening of the gates also permitted trapping of fish making it easier for the fishpond operator (Henry, 1993).

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Meet our second guest speaker, Hi'ilei Kawelo, who will give us insight on how the makaha were used.
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     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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