Straight Lines In A Curved World

This weekend we had the great privilege of visiting Auntie Donnie’s property mauka of the fishpond. This was an amazing cultural experience and a great opportunity to see the watershed at all its stages. The water condenses at the mountaintop and drips down into pools, where it is fresh enough to drink. The stream runs through a bamboo forest, where high flow and small rocks and sand have carved out some of the larger rocks. Once the stream gets to actual cleared forest, it empties into taro patches, where it brings nutrients to the taro and flushes the roots. The taro pull some sediment and extra nutrients out of the water, and clean water continues downstream. Historically, this tiered system of taro production was an important part of land and water use in this area, and many community and conservation groups would like to see it return to the He’eia ahupua’a. The patches provide fish as well as taro, since freshwater fish live among the stems and roots. Currently, the wetland area immediately upstream of the pond is filled with California grass (Brachiara mutica), and the water remains in pools, which flood and connect during heavy rains in the winter. Some experimental taro patches exist in this area, but removal of B. mutica and mangrove (which has extended back from the pond into the wetlands) is costly and difficult. One hope is that taro patches will be able to handle a sediment load comparable to what the mangroves are currently holding, so that mangrove removal will not overload the pond with sediment.


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  • Mahalo Nui Loa

    I recently graduated from the Donahue Lab at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and am currently a graduate student at the University of Washington. This research is funded by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, as well a scholarship from the Seattle chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation.
  • “Where do ecological ideas come from? …Most do not spring deductively from the minds of ecologists, like Athena from the head of Zeus. Instead, they emerge when ecologists absorb the essential spirit of individual places– their genius loci.”

    ~Mary V. Price & Ian Billick, "The Ecology of Place"
  • “Aloha is the intelligence with which we meet life.”

    ~Olana A'i, Kumu Hula

  • “I no longer say ‘Hawaiian ways of knowing’ anymore. Because people relegate that to the margins. ‘Ways of knowing,’ as if it’s a quaint, anthropologic way of describing something outside us. No, it’s ‘epistemology,’ the philosophy of knowledge. Land educates. ‘Ike ‘aina. The land of your birth educates you. This land here educates you.”

    ~Manu Meyer

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