H.R. NO.



H.D. 1














WHEREAS, Mokauea Island is a group of islands located in Keehi Lagoon, Kalihi Ahupuaa, Mokauea ili, Honolulu (Kona) District, island of Oahu, State of Hawaii; and


WHEREAS, Mokauea Island is the site of Oahu's last Hawaiian fishing village and one of only two remaining in Hawaii; and


WHEREAS, Keehi Lagoon was once a thriving fishing community with over 13 fishponds, seven fisheries, and home to alii; and


WHEREAS, in pre-European times, Hawaii had hundreds of fishing villages which were a repository of maritime skills including knowledge of the sea, currents, tides, seasonalities, and the building and handling of canoes and fishing equipment; and


WHEREAS, Mokauea Island's fishing community was once entirely self-sufficient due to a functional fishpond, cultivation of vegetable and medicinal plants, as well as limu, and a healthy supply of reef fish in the surrounding area; and


WHEREAS, descendents and family members of the Mokauea fishing village residents can trace their genealogy back 900 years to the second migration of Polynesians to Hawaii; and


WHEREAS, references to one of the Mokauea islands are included in Ka Moolelo O Hiiakaikapoliopele (The Epic Tale of Hiiakaikapoliopele) and in Namakalehu, which describes the story of when the second wave of Polynesians first stepped foot in Hawaii on a reef near one of the Mokauea islands; and


WHEREAS, in 1839, Kamehameha III's Constitution and code of laws assigned Keehi Lagoon to be the royal fishing grounds and placed as kapu, recognizing the abundance of fish in the area and the need to preserve and protect the natural resource; and


WHEREAS, the 1902 Federal Fish Commission Report revealed that by 1900, half of the Hawaiian fishponds either had been destroyed or were inoperable, but that the remaining half produced over 560,000 pounds of fresh fish annually; and


WHEREAS, from 1900 to 1972, the fishponds and islands of the Keehi Lagoon area were drastically altered or destroyed by dredging to the extent that none of the fishponds recorded by the 1900 Commission remain in existence today; and

WHEREAS, in 1972, the State attempted to evict the seventeen families living on Mokauea Island to build an airport runway extension, but several fishers refused to leave and were arrested for trespassing on the same land their families had lived on for generations; and


WHEREAS, in June of 1975, as a final eviction attempt and without due process, government agents burned down the homes of five fishers, destroying both their means of livelihood and their personal belongings; and


WHEREAS, important cultural artifacts have been found on the island, including an unfinished, pre-1900, near shore koa fishing canoe that narrowly escaped destruction in the 1975 fires; and


WHEREAS, eviction of the fishers was publicized and the fishers formed the Mokauea Fishermen's Association to pressure the state and federal agencies to negotiate; and


WHEREAS, Governor George Ariyoshi, in response to public pressure, ordered a formal historical study of the area and its fishing community by the State Historic Preservation Officer; and


WHEREAS, the State Historic Preservation Officer issued a report in response to the Governor's order and found Mokauea to be "an area of important historic concern", which qualified the island community for preservation status under federal and state law; and

WHEREAS, as a result of the preservation status, the Mokauea Fisherman's Association negotiated a 65-year lease with the State; provided that they rebuild their homes according to the building code and establish an educational program for local students to learn about traditional fishing and the reef environment; and


WHEREAS, the fishers and their families then rebuilt their homes, and the Mokauea Fishermen's Association began restoring and reviving the fishing village with the cooperation of the United States Army and groups of students, teachers, scholars, and scientists; and


WHEREAS, the United States Navy provided labor and machinery to construct a fishpond on the eastern side of the island and consultants from the University of Hawaii helped the residents stock it with resources; and


WHEREAS, over time, the fishpond on the island faced challenges ranging from invasive species to pollution and was ultimately abandoned; and


WHEREAS, only a handful of families remain on the island and none possess the resources needed to establish an educational program or the necessary facilities without significant assistance; and


WHEREAS, since 2005, significant progress has been made toward achieving the goal set by the Mokauea Fisherman's Association to recreate a living example of a traditional Hawaiian subsistence fishing village such that it becomes a learning center allowing for scientific studies and the perpetuation and practice of Hawaii fishing and seafaring culture; and


WHEREAS, many school groups and community organizations have participated in restorative efforts and free-choice learning experiences on the island, helping to ensure the transmission of Hawaiian traditional ecological knowledge; and

WHEREAS, to allow for the continuation of the educational and cultural programs associated with Mokauea Island and the families of the Mokauea Fisherman's Association, formal recognition of its importance by state and federal agencies is essential; now, therefore,


BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Twenty-sixth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2012, that the United States National Register of Historic Places is urged to recognize Mokauea Island as a cultural and educational resource and include Mokauea Island on the National Register of Historic Places; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that formal recognition of the cultural and educational importance of Mokauea Island is in keeping with State Historic Preservation Officer's 1975 report noting the island's historic importance; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that formal recognition of the cultural and educational importance of Mokauea Island is in keeping with the Hawaii State Legislature's goal to protect Hawaii's distinctive cultural heritage; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Resolution be transmitted to the United States Secretary of the Interior, Chief of the National Register of Historic Places, the Governor, the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, and the Administrator of the State Historic Preservation Division.

Report Title:

Mokauea Island; Fishermen; Fishers; Fishing Village; Native Hawaiian; Keehi Lagoon; National Register of Historic Places