KIHEI - 'Ao 'ao O Na Loko I'a O Maui (Association of the Fishponds of Maui) will begin a new canoe-paddling tour of a portion of the Kihei coast beginning Wednesday at the Ko'ie'ie Fishpond in north Kihei.
The 90-minute tour will begin at 8 a.m. with an oli, or Hawaiian chant, along the fishpond's shore. Reservations are needed, and donations are encouraged.
Other tours will be offered, also at 8 a.m., on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The South Maui coastline has at least three major fishponds, including the Ko‘ie‘ie Fishpond in north Kihei. ‘Ao ‘ao O Na Loko I‘a O Maui (Association of the Fishponds of Maui) will start offering outrigger canoe tours of the north Kihei coast on certain days beginning Wednesday.
JOYLYNN PAMAN photo
The program is sponsored by a $10,000 grant from the Atherton Foundation.
"The goal of this unique cultural tour is to raise awareness about Hawaiian cultural treasures, such as Ko'ie'ie Fishpond, their importance within the Hawaiian ahupuaa, and the need to revitalize them," said Joylynn Paman, executive director of 'Ao 'ao O Na Loko I'a O Maui.
Those going on the tour will receive a safety briefing and paddle outside the walls of the Ko'ie'ie Fishpond, where they'll be able to see "the extent of the walls' transformation from a deteriorated, crumbling wall to a revitalized Hawaiian cultural treasure," an announcement of the tours said.
The fishpond was built nearly 500 years ago along the shoreline of the ahupuaa of Ka'ono'ulu in north Kihei, according to the association. Its name has changed with time from Ko'ie'ie to Kalepolepo fishpond.
The name change happened during a period of reconstruction, when the trampling of men's feet on the dry soil caused it to billow in the air, leaving a lingering cloud of dust.
The area then became known as Kalepolepo, meaning "the dirt."
The fishpond also was known as Ka'ono'ulu Kai, which points out its makai location within the Ka'ono'ulu ahupuaa.
It was one of at least three major fishponds along the South Maui shore.
"As you move farther south of Ko'ie'ie, you'll find Waiohuli Kai and Keokea Kai, two other fishponds named after their respective ahupuaa," Paman said.
Leading the tour with assistants will be Kimokeo Kapahulehua, the association's president and a master canoe paddler.
For more information, go online to www.mauifishpond.com.