News Briefs | December 2021

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Alakoko Fishpond

Photo: Alakoko Fishpond
Alakoko Fishpond on Kauaʻi has been purchased by the Trust for Public Land and conveyed to Alakoko ʻāina stewards Mālama Hulēʻia. Their purchase of the 600-year-old fishpond, the largest remaining fishpond on the island and a wahi pana of great cultural significance will ensure that Alakoko will be used for conservation and education into perpetuity. Located in the ahupuaʻa of Niumalu, near Līhuʻe, Alakoko is a model loko kuapā (walled fishpond) ecosystem. – Photo: Mālama Hulēʻia

Purchase Will Protect Alakoko in Perpetuity

In mid-November, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Mālama Hulēʻia announced the successful purchase of the 102-acre Alakoko Fishpond (also known as ʻAlekoko or Menehune Fishpond).

The purchase will forever protect Alakoko, the largest remaining fishpond on Kauaʻi and a wahi pana of tremendous cultural significance.

The 600-year-old fishpond is in Niumalu near Līhuʻe. The land was on the market and at risk of development since January 2021.

In fall 2020, TPL began meeting with elected officials and government agencies to secure funding for the conservation acquisition. More than 5,500 people signed an online statement in support of protecting Alakoko, and hundreds submitted written testimony in support.

TPL led the fundraising efforts, negotiated the deal, and purchased the Alakoko Fishpond property on Nov. 17, 2021, then conveyed it to the nonprofit Mālama Hulēʻia for stewardship. The deed to the property ensures that Alakoko Fishpond will be used for conservation, education and community in perpetuity.

The purchase was made possible through a charitable donation from the Chan Zuckerberg Kauaʻi Community Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation. The donors have no ownership interest in the property.

Although this purchase is a huge victory, it is only the first step in what will be a multi-generational effort to restore, steward, and bring life back to Alakoko so that it can once again feed the community physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Ka Wai Ola news will be covering this story in greater detail in upcoming issues.

To invest in Alakoko’s future, and protect beloved places across Hawaiʻi, please join the community fundraising campaign at www.RestoreTheFishpond.org to make a gift, volunteer, or learn more.

ʻŌiwi Filmmaker Receives $500,000 Grant

Photo: Alika Maikau
Alika Maikau. – Photo: Courtesy

Award-winning Native Hawaiian filmmaker Alika Maikau has received a $500,000 Feature Film Grant from tech leader Google and independent film distribution company Array.

Maikau’s 25-minute film, Mauka to Makai won best Hawaiʻi-made short film in the 2018 Hawaiʻi Film Festival, and his eight-minute film, Molokaʻi Bound, won the award for best live-action short film at the imagiNATIVE film festival in Toronto, Canada, in 2019.

Maikau is the first filmmaker to receive Array/Google’s Feature Film Grant – an award designed to support rising filmmakers from historically excluded backgrounds.

Array evolved from the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement founded by filmmaker Ava DuVernay in 2010. It is an independent film distribution and resource collective dedicated to amplifying independent films by people of color and women worldwide to encourage more varied voices and images in cinema.

Molokaʻi Bound, about a formerly incarcerated man trying to reconnect with his son and his culture, captured the attention of Array/Google executives. The grant will allow Maikau to make it into a feature-length film, and he will soon begin casting and securing locations for the film.

Maikau, who hails from Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu, is a product of UH Mānoa’s Academy for Creative Media where he studied under notable filmmakers Lisette Marie Flanary and Merata Mita.

40th Makahiki Celebrated on Kahoʻolawe

Commencing in 1981 and culminating in 1982, the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO) completed its first observance of the Makahiki season on Kahoʻolawe. The resurgence of Makahiki was brought about in an effort to petition Lono to bring rain to Kahoʻolawe in an effort to re-green the island. This year marks the PKO’s 40th Makahiki celebration on the island.

During Makahiki, the ʻOhana offers hoʻokupu of niu hiwa symbolizing the commencement of the ceremony; lama symbolizing enlightenment; ʻawa, the favored drink of deities; puaʻa hiwa, a kinolau of Lono; kalo, the staple food of our ancestors, iʻa ʻula, the favored fish of aliʻi; ʻulu symbolizing growth; ʻuala signifying Kānaka’s relationship to the akua; certain varieties of maiʻa (banana) that are kinolau of Lono; ipu o Lono containing fresh spring water; and wai from across the pae ʻāina. The holistic approach of physical and spiritual reforestation of activities is extremely important.

According to noted historian David Malo, Makahiki began in the month of ʻIkuwā and continued through the first three months of the period of Hoʻoilo (the rainy season): Welehu, Makaliʻi and Kāʻelo. Malo indicated that Makahiki was a time when men, women and chiefs rested and abstained from work and from the usual religious observances.

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Makahiki on Kahoʻolawe, the PKO has launched a new shirt design. For more information go to: www.bonfire.com/40th-anniversary-makahiki/.

$5 Million to Help Hawaiʻi and Kauaʻi Homeowners

Nonprofit Hawaiʻi Community Lending (HCL), along with the state and the counties of Hawaiʻi and Kauaʻi, recently announced the launch of a new $5 million Homeowner Assistance Fund. The U.S. Congress established the fund for the purpose of mitigating financial hardships associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will provide homeowners with grants to prevent mortgage delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures.

The pilot project will give an estimated 200 homeowners on Hawaiʻi Island and Kauaʻi grants to bring their mortgage current or to reduce their monthly payments. Priority will be given to low- and moderate-income homeowners and/or “socially disadvantaged” borrowers, including Native Hawaiians.

HCL and sister agency Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) have professionally trained financial counselors on-site to help homeowners with the application process. To apply for grants, homeowners will be required to complete an intake application and pre-screening questionnaire. Homeowners will only be able to qualify if their mortgage service provider signs up to participate in the program. The list of participating mortgage servicers can be found at hawaiicommunitylending.com/grants-loans/

For more information visit www.HawaiiCommunityLending.com; to apply for a grant go to: www.HawaiianCommunity.net.

New Program Seeks Farmers and Food System Entrepreneurs

Applications are now being accepted for a special cohort in the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s (CNHA) KūHana Business Development Program. The KūHana Cohort 6 will work in partnership with Kamehameha Schools’ (KS) Mahiʻai Match-Up, a business plan competition aimed at helping aspiring farmers and local food producers to grow, expand, and launch their businesses.

The KūHana program will provide food-system entrepreneurs an opportunity for Hawaiʻi-based and ʻŌiwi-owned businesses to clarify their purpose, product, and plan within a nine-week business course, all from a Native Hawaiian and community perspective. Top performers will compete in the Mahiʻai Match-Up competition for an opportunity to win an agricultural land or commercial property agreement with KS, along with start-up capital.

“Our KūHana program is designed to meet businesses during their development stages and to identify the best ways to support their growth towards the collective goal of raising the lāhui,” said CNHA CEO Kūhiō Lewis. “We are proud to partner again with Kamehameha Schools’ Mahiʻai Match-Up competition to broaden our reach and impact in the food-systems economy.”

“The success of our farmers and small businesses supports the overall growth of agriculture and food industries,” said Kāʻeo Duarte, KS vice president of Community & ʻĀina Resiliency. “Our hope is that the Mahiʻai Match-Up competition will support our lāhui through the production of more healthy, accessible, and ʻono food. Strengthening the businesses feeding our communities creates jobs that support our keiki and families across Hawaiʻi.”

For more information or to apply visit www.hawaiiancouncil.org/kuhana. The application deadline is Dec. 10, 2021.

Next Generation Leaders at HCDC and HLI

Founded in 1987, the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) is a coalition of homestead communities. Over the years, SCHHA’s efforts and advocacy have birthed two nonprofit corporations designed to advance the interest of families on or near Hawaiian Home Lands. The first, the Homestead Community Development Corporation (HCDC) founded in 2009, is dedicated to housing and job creation. The second, Hawaiian Lending & Investments (HLI), incorporated in 2020, is a loan fund focused on deploying capital to families and businesses.

Last month, HCDC and HLI announced the appointment of three new leaders in response to the demand for services.

Rolina Faagai, 38, has been promoted to deputy director of Economic Development, overseeing social enterprises that create jobs and support micro-business. Faagai also volunteers as a policy analyst on the SCHHA Homestead Policy Committee, supporting state and federal policy priorities. Vaipuarii Kight, 35, has been promoted to deputy director of Loan Fund Operations, delivering financial services statewide including loans and grants, along with home loan packaging. Kight is a certified home loan packager and HUD counselor. And Kara Chow, 37, is the new Deputy Director, overseeing Corporate Administration.

These appointments represent the next-generation leadership transition of two significant nonprofit corporations dedicated to trust land solutions and the larger Native Hawaiian community in the field of community development.