Our visit to Kawainui Marsh-Ulupo Heiau and Na Pohaku O Hauwahine

Our organizer Deborah Lau Okamura, Doc Burrows, Kahu Ryan and members of our group

Our visit on a recent Monday morning to the great expanse of freshwater known as Kawainui (The Great Fresh Water), the center of Kailua’s ahupua'a (Hawai'i’s traditional land division) started with protocol. Here we had the honor of having Chuck “Doc” Burrows, President of 'Ahahui Malama I ka Lokahi Association, and Kahu Ryan Alena Kaimana Kuhio Kalama,President of Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club, take us on an educational tour of the area that they areKahu Kumu (Care Takers and Teachers). It is customary when in a place of such cultural significance as Kawainui and Ulupo Heiau to begin with a protocol of entry, a kahea (calling) and a request to enter the area to do righteous work. The oli that was chanted by Doc Burrows and Kahu Ryan was composed in 2000 by S.M. ‘Ohukani’ohi’a Gon III, who trained under respected practitioner Kumu John Keola Lake. For me, it was a chicken skin moment to be part of this. The tour was to learn about the Hawaiian archeological, historic and ecological resources of Kawainui Marsh.

It is the objective of the Association and Civic Club to preserve Hawaiian cultural traditions through the conservation of native ecosystems. It is through education, active stewardship and research that we can protect our native cultural and natural heritage. The goal is to balance the concepts of malama (stewardship and responsible behavior), ' ike kalaola (ecological knowledge) and loina (Hawaiian values and practices). This is all done for the purpose of preserving the Hawaiian people and culture, by embracing our land and sea with love and respect.

We saw ethno-botanical restoration at Ulupo Heaiau and at Na Pohaku O Hauwahine. I have already written an article on Ulupo but was surprised to see the fresh water spring this time. Kailua was a favorite residence of the ali'i 200 years ago because of the many fishponds, plenty of taro and the great waterways and canoe landings. Their “church” was Ulupo, the center of their source of life. The goal of these two groups is to continue in the production of taro. Growing food is very important for the future of Hawai 'i, its culture and its people.

Interesting to realize that many centuries ago the area that we now know as Kawainui Marsh was part of Kailua Bay. Now it provides nesting areas for migratory birds and endangered waterbirds.

Ulupo Heiau

Offerings given at Ulupo Heiau

Fresh water spring

Menehune path

View of Kawainui from Ulupo

Taro lo'i and irrigation system



Na Pohaku O Hauwahine

Across from Ulupo is Na Pohaku O Hauwahine.This site is along Kapa'a Quarry Road at the western edge of the marsh and is being restored with native plants by Doc Burrows and Kahu Ryan and their members.

The rock formation of the Hawaiian Mo'o goddess and the guardian of Kawainui is located here. You can see a panoramic view of Kailua, from its mountains the the ocean. Twelve acres are being planted with native plants to create a dryland forest ecosystem. What both the association and civic club need is volunteers to help in clearing and preserving these areas.

Service projects are held on Saturdays.Please check their website for schedules http://www.ahahui.net

The rock formation of the Hawaiian Mo'o goddess and the guardian of Kawainui

Views from Na Pohaku Hauwahine

Cattles grazing

Entrance to marsh

Area where the waves of Kailua Bay once hit the rocks

Service volunteers make path into Kawainui

Views from Na Pohaku Hauwahine


Loulu Palm

Rock formation with water inside used to study the constellations

Doc Burrows with plans for future of Kawainui Marsh

Our snack...Starfruit





I learned so much in the half day that we visited the two places. It is an endless task, what these two organizations do. But if everyone helps, their goals can be accomplished and our state is better for it. It reads accordingly in the brochure of 'Ahahui Malama I Ka Lokahi , "He hana no 'eau ke aloha. (Aloha is a work of proficiency.) This Hawaiian expression is a core value of the 'Ahahui. When we become experts at something, we can't help but fall in love with it. As we learn the intimate details of our native Hawaiian species and ecosystems through research and traditional, appropriate caretaking, our aloha for them strengthens."

So true.

Honolulu Festival

'Ahahui Malama I Ka Lokahi

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