HECO Ohana Stops By Heeia Fishpond


About 100 Hawaiian Electric Co. employees help to reinforce the farthest wall at Heeia Fishpond, where they volunteered May 12. Hi‘ilai Kawelo, executive director of Paepae o He‘eia, had them line up to move about 100 30-pound buckets of rock and coral to strengthen parts of the 1.3-mile-long wall in Kaneohe Bay. Photo from HECO.

You’d think that managers of electricity might be wary of the water, but 100 HECO employees sunk right into the brackish, slippery Heeia Fishpond recently and set to work with the folks from the nonprofit Paepae o He’eia, which cares for Kaneohe’s unique cultural resource.

“This is our largest People Power volunteer effort of the year so far,” said Kathleen Freitas, volunteer coordinator for Hawaiian Electric Co. “Since many of our volunteers live or have families that reside in Windward, we are happy to get dirty to help restore a piece of Hawaii’s history and culture while preserving a precious environmental resource for the community.”

The task at hand was to reinforce the pond’s farthest wall, which is a long walk from the Kaneohe Bay shoreline. Once there, they entered the water and formed two long lines to move 30-pound buckets of rock and coral, hand to hand, to the wall that completely encircles the pond and is up to 14 feet wide at some points.

“It was so amazing to be there,” said Sharon Higa of HECO. “It’s a treasure, a really wonderful place.” The workers also were briefed on the 88-acre pond’s history and details of its construction at their May 12 community service outing.

To executive director Hi’ilei Kawelo and her Paepae o He’eia colleagues, it’s the community that has always determined the success of this 800-year-old fish-stocking enterprise.

“The community that constructed it centuries ago also helped to maintain it and in turn were the beneficiaries of the goods,” she said. “Today should be no different … It is still the community that will restore the pond and continue our works into the future.”

A week after the HECO workday, Higa was still amazed. “There were so many great moments,” she recalled. “We took 300 pictures!”

Paepae o He’eia has community workdays on the second Saturday of each month, and public help to restore the 1.3-mile-long wall is always welcome. Call 236-6178 or email