One interpretation of Lawaiʻa is Lawa Iʻa meaning Enough Fish. The fishers that make up Makahanaloa Fishing Association are feeding their ʻohana and they share fish, limu, ʻopihi, crab, and fishing knowledge so that many in the community have lawa iʻa. Makahanaloa Fishing Association represents over one hundred and twenty ʻohana with ancestral ties to Pepeʻekeo, Papaʻikou, Honomu, and Hilo.
He iʻa kokoke kā ka lawaiʻa - A fisherman always finds fish nearby
For as long as people have lived on the flats and in the valleys of Hilo Palikū (Hilo of the Standing Cliffs) they have survived because of the resources of the ocean. After the 1848 Māhele ʻĀina, the division of lands, these lands began to convert to sugar. In 1853 Metcalf Sugar Plantation, one of the oldest in the state, started in Kaupakuea ahupuaʻa. This plantation evolved and grew to encompass the ahupuaʻa of Makahanaloa, Makea and Kahua. Many people came from around the world to work and live on these plantations. They picked ʻopihi from the stones and ate the fish from the sea. The plantation kept shoreline access open for everyone. In 2003, the former sugar lands of these ahupuaʻa were purchased and developed. The surrounding community demanded that shoreline access be a condition of that development but were promised one thing and given another. The Pepeʻekeo Community Association fishing access committee was formed out of that agreement. Their kūleana was to steward the promised accesses but because of the mismanagement of the development permits much of the access has eroded. In 2019, Makahanaloa Fishing Association was formed from that Fishing Access Committee out of necessity to fight for a renewed share of the shoreline. We have continued to and reavow our kūleana to care for the access along the shoreline from Kapehu Stream in the north to Waimaʻauʻau stream in the south.
Our access to traditional fishing areas has been threatened since the sugar plantations slow demise, ending in the 1990s. Now, more than ever, we see more gates and more storied places being lost. Lost because kūpuna cannot get there and transfer their stories or even take care of the gravesites of their ancestors. The Makahanaloa Fishing Association is by every means seeking to grow and to protect our fishing community’s rights to provide food for their families and maintain the generational bond with our treasured shoreline areas. The Association logo, which is featured on the home page was inspired by the dream of a lifelong Pepeʻekeo resident. A huge manō niuhi (tiger shark) stared through the face of a wave at her. Makahanaloa means “the enduring eye” and so we, the fishers of our community, are the manō as we watch our actions and the actions of others to ensure they are pono and that the ocean is cared for properly. The hook, broken off long ago, represents the challenges our community faces in maintaining our fishing grounds and access rights.
Blake McNaughton: President
Nick Frazier: Vice President
Kaʻikena Nāone: Treasurer
Dylan Crawford: Secretary
Alapai Ledward: Director
Lennie Okano: Director
Kuʻulani Muise – Cultural Advisor
Kai McGuire – Legal Counsel
Tracey Wise – President of PCDC