He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Opportunities: Participate in Ancient Aquaculture

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He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Opportunities: Participate in Ancient Aquaculture

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Being a He’eia Fishpond volunteer is one of my favorite places to volunteer on the windward side and it even made my list of the best places to volunteer on Oahu. This is a volunteer opportunity for those who want to do hard work and be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and achievement.

View of the Ko'olau Mountains from the fishpond wall, only accessible by being a He'eia Fishpond Volunteer.

He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Information

Paepae o He’eia is an organization that looks after the He’eia Fishpond. This fishpond is a special part of Hawaiian history and is located in Heeia Uli, Ko’olaupoko, in Kaneohe. The group was started in 2001 by some young Hawaiians that now work together with Kamehameha Schools, who own the land, to keep the fishpond in good shape for everyone in the community. Their goal is to protect and care for the He’eia Fishpond and ensure it remains a valued treasure.

Paepae O He’eia wants to help build a future where the culture of Hawai’i is kept alive and strong. They aim to do this by teaching others about Hawaiian culture and how the fishponds played a huge role in feeding old Hawaii.

The fishpond itself is around a mile and a half long and contains gates every so often that are specially built to let baby fish in and out but keep the mature ones inside to breed and eventually be caught.

He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Opportunities: Participate in Ancient Aquaculture

At the end of every volunteer day, you will get a tour of the fishpond and even be able to walk along it.

How To Reserve A Volunteer Slot

Signing up as a volunteer for He’eia Fishpond is very easy. You have the choice of if you would like to attend one of their community workdays where there are a large group of people, or going during the week with your group or with family.

Signups are all located on the same sign-up page, read a little about what volunteer events they offer, then scroll down until you see this form.

He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Opportunities: Participate in Ancient Aquaculture

Next, fill out all applicable information and click send at the bottom. It is recommended to RSVP 1 to 2 months ahead but I did it around 3 days before and got a message within the next day confirming my date.

How To Get To The Volunteer Site

Many people are familiar with He’eia State Park but getting to the volunteer site requires you to go somewhere else. Using your GPS, go to 46-077 Ipuka St in Kaneohe.

This will take you to a side road that goes through a neighborhood, as you drive down look for the mailbox with the corresponding numbers and the ‘-Kapu- No Fishing’ sign.

He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Opportunities: Participate in Ancient Aquaculture

Once you’ve located this area, simply find parking on the street and walk down the hill behind the gates. you will see employee cars parked below and a house structure, all volunteers must check in so walk to the office (pointed out with the red arrow) and simply ask to sign in

He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Opportunities: Participate in Ancient Aquaculture

After you’ve done so, you can hang out under the nearby tent or explore the massive property.

What Can You Expect

Volunteering at He’eia Fishpond is no joke, knowing how to use power tools, such as a weed eater is super important because that is what we did for the majority of the time. Our group was tasked with clearing out an overgrown area for more Kalo planting, those who didn’t know how to use a weed eater or weren’t comfortable were given the chance to help build rock walls for the fishpond.

He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Opportunities: Participate in Ancient Aquaculture

Clearing out this area was no easy task because of the muddy terrain that the grass grew on, our volunteer guide stepped in a spot that came up to his waist, luckily I didn’t end up getting stuck anywhere.

Considering that our group ended up clearing most of the overgrown area, its safe to assume that when you volunteer here, you’ll probably be doing something different such as clearing mangroves or building the wall to surround the pond.

Unique Aspects Of This Volunteer Program

While other volunteer opportunities offer unique plants or experiences, He’eia Fishpond offers something much more important.

Shoes for those who forgot them at home.

He’eia Fishpond Volunteer Opportunities: Participate in Ancient Aquaculture

On a more serious note, He’eia fishpond is one of the last few fishponds in Hawaii and it is truly a unique experience to be able to give back and stand on the walls that were built by hand.

With pleasant views of the Ko’olau Mountains and no street noise, this is one of the most relaxing places I’ve volunteered at so far, and would gladly return again.

Final Thoughts

In summary, Paepae O He’eia is one of the best places on the windward side to volunteer and give back. Hard work is expected but very rewarding to be able to look back and actually see how your work benefitted the area.

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