The following is the established format for referencing this article:Gibson, V. L., L. L. Bremer, K. M. Burnett, N. Keaka Lui, and C. M. Smith. 2022. Biocultural values of groundwater dependent ecosystems in Kona, Hawaiʻi. Ecology and Society 27(3):18.
ABSTRACTGroundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) are increasingly recognized as important conservation targets with linked ecological and social value. However, the social uses and values of GDEs have received relatively little research attention in the peer-reviewed literature, precluding their greater inclusion in policy and management decisions. To help fill this gap, we provide a case study from Kona, Hawaiʻi, where multiple types of GDEs are abundant, to illustrate the diversity of social uses and values of GDEs. To explore these uses and values, we combined a literature review, archival analysis, and key-informant interviews with resource managers and lineal descendants connected to three prominent GDEs: Indigenous aquaculture systems, anchialine pools, and nearshore ecosystems. Interviews focused on current and historical uses and values of GDEs, contemporary management challenges and strategies, and desired visions for the future. Interviewees expressed a range of uses and values associated with GDEs, which we categorized using a Hawaiʻi-based cultural ecosystem service framework focused on social connections, physical and mental health, spirituality, and knowledge. Importantly, results suggest that the historical value of these systems directly informs current social value, and that restoration efforts are largely carried out through biocultural approaches, which emphasize the mutually reinforcing restoration of ecology and culture. We found that interviewees seek to restore ecosystem functions, cultural practice, and connection to place, and in some cases, local food production. Achieving these goals requires addressing multiple and interacting threats to these systems including invasive species, land-based sources of pollution, groundwater pumping, and climate change. Importantly, effective and equitable restoration also rests on recognition and amplification of Indigenous rights, knowledge, practice, and governance. These results provide important lessons for land and water management and policy in Hawaiʻi as well as other islands and coastal areas where GDEs have important linked social and ecological value.
E ui aku ana au ia oe, Aia i hea ka Wai a Kane?
Aia i lalo, i ka honua, i ka Wai hu,
I ka wai kau a Kane me Kanaloa
He waipuna, he wai e inu,
He wai e mana, he wai e ola,
E ola no, ea
One question I ask of you:
Where flows the water of Kane?
Deep in the ground, in the gushing spring,
In the ducts of Kane and [Kana]loa
A well spring of water, to quaff,
A water of magic power The water of life!
Life indeed, o give us life!
This stanza is part of the longer “Wai a Kāne” (water of Kāne) oli (chant) that describes the sources of wai (water) throughout the Hawaiian Islands as translated by Emerson (1909:258-259). We highlight this stanza describing groundwater in aquifers and springs because this is the primary water source in Kona. The chant describes the connections between water and Kāne, one of four major akua (deities) in Kānaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) cosmologies, who, as ancestor to all living beings, provides fresh water, sunlight, and all life substances (Mitchell 2001; Hawaiian language translations here and throughout this text from Pukui and Elbert 1986, see glossary in Appendix 3). Oli along with mele (songs) and moʻolelo (legends) are important repositories of Indigenous knowledge that have been passed down in oral and written form (Kealiikanakaoleohaililani et al. 2020). This stanza also makes reference to Kanaloa (translated by Emerson as Loa), another major deity of the ocean, expansiveness, and the underworld. Together, Kāne and Kanaloa are known water finders, and this chant references their ability to locate water sources. This stanza demonstrates the knowledge of hydrogeology that allowed Kānaka ʻŌiwi to describe unseen water flowing deep underground, the spiritual reverence for water as a source of life, and the dedication to commit this knowledge to memory through chant, such that many generations came to learn these details about the water of Kāne.
Efforts to holistically manage groundwater highlight the need to protect groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) for their social and ecological uses and values (Kløve et al. 2011, Wachniew et al. 2014, Esteban and Dinar 2016, Rohde et al. 2019, Elshall et al. 2020). Found worldwide, GDEs are ecosystems that are fed by groundwater, and include ecosystems above (e.g., wetlands, estuaries, springs/seeps, rivers/streams) and within subterranean zones (e.g., aquifers, caves and hyporheic zones; Eamus and Froend 2006, Humphreys 2006). GDEs often support high endemic biodiversity (Boulton 2020, Cantonati et al. 2020), can serve as important sites for food and water supplies (Murray et al. 2006, Burnett et al. 2017), and frequently have high social and economic value (Moosdorf and Oehler 2017, Burnett et al. 2018, Boulton 2020).
Despite their recognized value, academic research on and formal conservation of GDEs lags behind research and conservation efforts focused on ecosystems with substantial surface water input (e.g., streams; Mammola et al. 2019). Moreover, the majority of peer-reviewed GDE research focuses on hydrological and ecological characteristics (Eamus and Froend 2006, Kløve et al. 2011, Adams et al. 2015, Rohde et al. 2019), rather than their social value and characteristics. There are examples of studies on ecosystem services and the economic value of GDEs (Murray et al. 2006, Duarte et al. 2010, Tomlinson and Boulton 2010, CGIAR 2015, Burnett et al. 2017), but there have been far fewer studies focused on the social and cultural values of GDEs, particularly on how these values relate to GDE ecological structure and function (Boulton 2020). A recent review of the societal values of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) highlights global examples of the social uses and values of SGD for drinking, hygiene, agriculture, fishing, culture, tourism, and navigation (Moosdorf and Oehler 2017). Through this review of primarily anecdotal evidence, the authors conclude that there is a need for dedicated research on human dimensions of SGD and the GDEs it supports: “because global change will strongly affect this water resource we should assess and understand that value, before the phenomenon will disappear at many locations due to terrestrial groundwater extraction or sea level increase” (Moosdorf and Oehler 2017:338). The need to better characterize the social values of GDEs (or the ways that these systems are important to people) also echoes broader calls to more thoroughly characterize the diverse values of ecosystems in decision making for more equitable and effective conservation outcomes (Pascua et al. 2017, Chan et al. 2020, Mandle et al. 2020).
Concern for the protection of GDEs and their linked ecological and social value is particularly strong in the Pacific where GDEs are prominent and are important places of Indigenous knowledge and practice (Pukui 1949, Macpherson and Macpherson 1990, Adler and Ranney 2018, Mead 2018, Brosnan et al. 2019, Boulton 2020). In these contexts, many GDEs can be understood through the framework of social-ecological systems or integrated, complex systems that include humans as part of nature (Berkes and Folke 1998).
The region of Kona, on Hawaiʻi Island (Fig. 1), provides a model system to address the linked social and ecological values of GDEs as its unique hydrologic, geologic, and social conditions support a high diversity and abundance of culturally and ecologically valuable GDEs, including loko iʻa (Indigenous aquaculture systems), loko wai kai (anchialine pools), and muliwai (estuarine systems that extend to nearshore fisheries; Brock and Kam 1997, Maly 1998, Maly and Maly 2003, Duarte et al. 2010, Yamamoto et al. 2015, Adler and Ranney 2018, Wada et al. 2020; see Figs. 2 and 3). Notably, 600 of the 700 known anchialine pools in the Hawaiian archipelago are found along the Kona coast (Yamamoto et al. 2015), and Hawaiʻi Island contains 80% of known anchialine pools worldwide (Christen et al. 2005). Historically, in part from a paucity of surface water features and low rainfall on this arid leeward coast, GDEs were a primary source of water and food for coastal communities in Kona, and these systems continue to have important cultural, social, and ecological value today (Adler and Ranney 2018, Maly and Maly 2003, Maly 2007). For example, loko iʻa aquaculture systems have been described as important sites of food production (Kamakau 1976, Winter et al. 2020a), and there is widespread interest in the restoration of these and other systems through biocultural approaches, which focus on the mutually reinforcing restoration of ecology, cultural knowledge and practice (Kimmerer 2011, Kurashima et al. 2017, Sterling et al. 2017, Adler and Ranney 2018, Morishige et al. 2018, Kealiikanakaoleohaililani et al. 2020, Winter et al. 2020b).
Drawing from Indigenous management principles, the Hawaiʻi State Water Code is among the first to encode holistic water management into law (Sproat 2015). Specifically, the public trust doctrine described by the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court as, “the right of the people to have the waters protected for their use [which] demands adequate provision for traditional and customary Hawaiian rights, wildlife, maintenance of ecological balance and scenic beauty, and the preservation and enhancement of the waters” (HRS 174C-2), aims to protect the multiple ecological and social uses of water including as used in aquifers, springs, and streams. However, the implementation of the public trust doctrine has lagged behind, in part because the inclusion of ecological and social values of water remains insufficient (Sproat 2015). In this context, Kona has emerged as a hotspot for conflicts around GDEs, including a recent petition filed by the National Park Service to the Commission on Water Resources Management (CWRM) to designate the Keauhou aquifer as a Ground Water Management Area (GWMA), implicating greater regulation and permitting requirements in order to better protect water flow and quality, including the protection of ecologically and socially important GDEs in the area (U.S. National Park Service 2013).
Although the Keauhou petition was not successful in designating the aquifer as a GWMA, the petition helped to elevate the importance of GDEs to the public trust doctrine, and resulted in a directive for CWRM to work with local communities, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, and researchers to improve understanding of the linked social and ecological uses and values of GDEs and how changes in water quality and quantity could affect these uses and values (Adler and Ranney 2018). This article responds to this need to improve understanding of the linked hydrological, ecological, and social values of GDEs and associated knowledge systems through a literature review and key-informant interviews with resource managers and lineal descendants (descendants of the original Indigenous tenants; Pascua et al. 2017). We focus on the following questions: (i) In what ways are GDEs used, valued, and cared for in Kona currently and historically?; (ii) What are the major perceived threats to these systems?; (iii) What are resource managers’ and lineal descendents’ visions for future use and management of these systems? In so doing, we document some of the importance of these systems for the people and ecology of Kona, providing an important case study of the linked social and ecological uses and values for GDEs for island and coastal communities that responds to broader calls for the recognition and elevation of Indigenous and local knowledge in natural resource management (Berkes et al. 2000, Kimmerer 2011, Winter et al. 2020b, Gadgil et al. 2021, Lander and Mallory 2021, Kamelamela et al. 2022).
This study focuses on GDEs associated with the Keauhou and Kīholo aquifers on the leeward Kona coast of Hawaiʻi Island, the youngest emergent island of the Hawaiian archipelago (Fig. 1). The aquifers associated with these watersheds are highly permeable and are composed of young vesicular basaltic bedrock, lava tubes, clinker zones, and downslope flow between lava flow sheets (Peterson et al. 2009). The arid leeward coast receives 200–750 mm of annual rainfall (Giambelluca et al. 2013), and the majority of groundwater recharge within these aquifer systems occurs on mountain slopes, with virtually all freshwater fluxes from the land to sea occurring as SGD rather than surface flow (Peterson et al. 2009).
GDEs on this coast are central to Kona’s history and culture as primary sources of water for drinking, bathing, agriculture, and spiritual practice, and described in many moʻolelo and historical accounts (see Table 1). Many moʻolelo and historical accounts, including those of GDEs, are documented in nūpepa (Hawaiian language newspapers), the world’s largest Indigenous archive, printed from 1834 through 1948 (Kihe 1869-1870, ʻĪʻī 1923-1924, Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation 2018). Within two prominent newspaper series translated by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation, 19 of 38 article topics described Kona GDEs and their uses and values (detailed in Table 1; Kihe 1869-1870, ʻĪʻī 1923-1924). For example, two of these articles described the largest loko iʻa (recorded in the nūpepa as 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide), Pāʻaiea, as the favorite loko iʻa of Kamehameha I (Kihe 1869-1870), the first aliʻi (member of the governing class) said to unite the eight main Hawaiian islands under his rule (Stokes 1932), and founder of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1810 (Beamer and Duarte 2009). The articles describe a moʻolelo associated with the destruction of Pāʻaiea loko iʻa by the Huʻehuʻe lava flow of 1800, and how this lava flow was attributed to the wrath of Pele (akua of volcanoes), who was denied a share of fish by Kamehameha’s konohiki (resource manager; see below for expanded translation; Kihe 1869-1870, Fujii et al. 1995). Two of these articles reference the moʻolelo, “the breadfruit roasting girls,” which describes the source of this lava flow that destroyed Pāʻaiea and how those who heeded Pele’s requests for fish and other offerings were spared (Kihe 1869-1870, Fujii et al. 1995; Table 1).
Though impacted by colonization and associated economic and political changes that occurred since 1778, the social uses and values associated with GDEs and other Kānaka ʻŌiwi social-ecological systems remain important today (Abbott 1992, Fujii et al. 1995, Osorio 2002, 2010, Howes and Osorio 2010, Winter et al. 2020a). This includes deeply held Kānaka ʻŌiwi values including pono (righteousness, balance), hoʻomana (creating, spirituality), mālama (to care for), kuleana (honored responsibility), and aloha (love), which have recently been discussed in the context of relational values (Gould et. al 2019) or the “preferences, principles, and virtues associated with relationships” (Chan et al. 2016:1462). Relatedly, GDEs continue to provide high social value in the sense of continued importance to people for their contribution to individual and community well-being (Gould et al. 2020).
In line with the continued social and ecological importance of GDEs, there has also been a resurgence in GDE stewardship, particularly since the 1970s, including the publication of the “Spirit of Kaloko Honōkohau,” a study submitted to the U.S. Congress in 1974 as part of a petition to designate Kaloko Honōkohau as a National Historical Park (Honokōhau Study Advisory Commission 1974). Since the time when Kaloko Honōkohau was designated, community-led efforts worked to restore social-ecological systems along the coast, providing important social and ecological benefits (e.g., Public Access Shoreline v. City Planning Commission 1995, U.S. National Park Service 2009; “Hui Aloha Kīholo” 2020, https://www.huialohakiholo.org; KUA Hawaii 2016, http://kuahawaii.org/kaʻupulehu-try-wait-faqs/; see Appendix 1.1.3 for further discussion of GDE political history). We describe three types of coastal GDEs in Kona, recognizing that there are other types of GDEs that are important and that these categories are overlapping rather than discrete (see Appendix 1 for additional description on GDEs).
Anchialine pools, loko wai kai
Globally, anchialine pools are widely distributed among porous substrates adjacent to the ocean, occurring wherever the underlying water table emerges through to expose fresh or brackish groundwater at the surface (Brock and Kam 1997, Weijerman et al. 2014, Yamamoto et al. 2015, Seidel et al. 2016). Anchialine pools have diverse ecological characteristics that vary substantially across pools, including salinity, temperature, light intensity, tidal mixing, and geologic structure; these characteristics can vary across gradients from high to low elevation, and from surface to subsurface pools, which can extend deep into underground cave systems (Brock and Kam 1997, Marrack 2014, Seidel et al. 2016). Tidal inundation and evaporation in coastal pools can result in salinities above usual seawater salinities of 33 parts per thousand (ppt), whereas inland pools can have salinities as low as 3 ppt (Seidel et al. 2016). Recognizing the hydrologic and biological diversity of these ecosystems, there are a variety of Hawaiian names reflecting distinct social uses and values, including: loko wai kai (mixing fresh and saltwater pond), wai ʻōpae (waters containing ʻōpae shrimp), loko wai (freshwater pond), ana wai (water cave), hāpuna (source water, spring, or pool), kiʻo wai (pool of water), kumu wai (source or spring water), luawai (well), māpuna (spring water), kāheka (tide pools with groundwater influence), and wai puna (spring water; Pukui and Elbert 1986, Maly 1998, Maly and Maly 2003).
Anchialine pools are used and valued within Hawaiian social-ecological systems for drinking, bathing, agriculture, refrigeration, spirituality, and healing, as well as for their unique ecology for aquaculture, collecting, and fishing (Brock and Kam 1997, Maly and Maly 2003, Adler and Ranney 2018). The Kekaha Wai ʻOle region (Fig. 1) is particularly noted for high numbers of wai ʻōpae, pools where ʻōpae ʻula (Hawaiian anchialine pool shrimp, Halocaridina rubra) were widely collected for use in offshore ʻōpelu (Decapturus spp.) fishing (Maly 1998, Maly and Maly 2003), as well as for deep sea fishing for aku (Katsuwonus pelamis) and ʻahi (Thunnus albacares; Maly 1998). A prominent Kanaka ʻŌiwi contributor to the Hawaiian language nūpepa from 1928 to 1930, John Kaʻelemakule Sr., lineal descendant of Kekaha Wai ʻOle, noted that in his lifetime, there was an industry in which dried ʻōpelu was shipped from Kona’s fisheries to be sold in Honolulu (Maly 1998), pointing also to the market value of anchialine pools during this period. Although wai ʻōpae is an important name for most of the pools in Kona, in which the ʻōpae ʻula are found, not all pools naturally contain ʻōpae (shrimp). For this reason we use loko wai kai to refer broadly to anchialine pools, which John Kaʻelemakule Sr. used to describe the mixed fresh and saltwater within the land and the pools of the Kekaha Wai ʻOle region. See Appendix 1.1.1 for further discussion of anchialine pool biology.
Nearshore brackish-marine ecosystems, muliwai
Nearshore marine waters are inundated with fresh to brackish groundwater where SGD springs release diurnal fresh pulses to nearshore reefs, creating intermittent estuarine, or muliwai, conditions (Duarte et al. 2006, Johnson et al. 2008, Kaleris 2006, Knee et al. 2010, Peterson et al. 2009). Pulses of SGD create muliwai waters that are cooler, and more nutrient-rich than nearshore waters without SGD-influence (Kaleris 2006, Johnson et al. 2008, Knee et al. 2010, Beusen et al. 2013). Muliwai in Kona extends from within the subterranean estuary, where mixing, biological transformation, and GDE species like ʻōpae ʻula range from within the aquifer itself, to estuarine tide pool systems, and nearshore reef ecosystems fed by SGD. Muliwai is populated by species that are physiologically able to thrive under conditions of sedimentation and oscillating estuarine and marine salinity (Christen et al. 2005, Taniguchi et al. 2017; Appendix 1, Table 1).
Nearshore muliwai-dependent and opportunistic muliwai inhabitants include invertebrates such as wana (urchins), ʻōpae (shrimps), pūpū (snails), and limu (edible macroalgae), which provide important minerals and variety for local diets (Titcomb et al. 1978, Abbott 1984, 1992). Limu and invertebrates also have high spiritual and cultural value for ceremonies, making tools and implements, costumes and instruments for hula (dance), and for lāʻau lapaʻau (Hawaiian herbal medicine; Titcomb et al. 1978, Abbott 1984, 1992). Some muliwai-associated edible and medicinal limu are limu pālahalaha (Ulva lactuca), limu ʻeleʻele (Ulva prolifera), limu manauea (Gracilaria coronopifolia), and ogo (locally adopted Japanese term for Gracilaria parvispora; Abbott 1947, 1992, Glenn et al. 1999, Amato et al. 2016). Some edible fish associated with muliwai are: ōʻio (Albula virgata and Albula glossodonta), moi (Polydactylus sexfilis), awa (Chanos chanos), weke (Mulloidichthys spp.), āholehole (Kuhlia sandvicensis and Kuhlia xenura), pāpio (young Caranx ignobilis and C. melampygus), ʻamaʻama (Mugil cephalus), and awaʻaua (Elops hawaiensis; Keala 2007). Spiritual practices associated with nearshore reefs include placing offerings at kūʻula (fishing shrines) and koʻa (fishing markers where wild fish are fed and cultivated; Maly and Maly 2003). See Appendix 1.1.2 for further discussion of muliwai biology.
Indigenous aquaculture systems: loko iʻa
Kānaka ʻŌiwi aquaculture practices include harvesting from and management of existing anchialine pools, but also aquaculture systems that are engineered by enclosing nearshore muliwai or otherwise modifying and stocking natural embayments and brackish pools with desirable species (Kikuchi 1976, Abbott 1992). A 1901 inventory for the Hawaiian archipelago recorded 360 existing loko iʻa, 99 of which were active and producing an estimated 486,000 lbs of ʻamaʻama and 194,000 lbs of awa annually (Cobb 1905). Loko iʻa conditions of shallow (less than six feet deep) embayments create areas of still water and ample sunlight, which cultivate “pastures” of microbenthos for grazing by herbivorous fish, primarily ʻamaʻama (mullet) and awa (milkfish; Abbott 1947; Appendix 1.1.3). Loko iʻa are also important sites of limu collection (Abbott 1992). By enclosing natural springs with rock walls, or by physically altering, managing, and stocking naturally occurring anchialine pools with desirable species (Kikuchi 1976, Maly 2003), loko iʻa historically contributed food supplies that supported the existence of the koa (warrior class), which functioned as an army for the aliʻi (governing class), and contributed to substantial food production systems that sustained high human populations in pre-European-contact Hawaiʻi (Kurashima et al. 2019).
Loko iʻa are described by Winter et al. (2020a) as an important example of trophic engineering, a type of “ecomimicry” in Kānaka ʻŌiwi social-ecological systems designed to use and expand natural processes such as transitional zones of groundwater and seawater to maximize food production and ecosystem services. Functioning loko iʻa increase sediment and nutrient retention, which, while undoubtedly altering natural flow patterns, provides important ecosystem services to nearshore reefs by reducing sediment and nutrient loads from upstream agricultural and residential development (Winter et al. 2020a, Wyban 2020).
Loko iʻa kuapā, the walled aquaculture systems, are special places for aliʻi, in that historically the aliʻi were able to produce fish for the royal court and their warriors (Maly and Maly 2003). Loko iʻa are important spiritual places where offerings to akua (deities) are made and iwi (cherished remains) are placed (Maly and Maly 2003). Additional guardian moʻo (water spirits) are believed to protect loko iʻa from pollution and overharvesting (Kikuchi 1976). Konohiki (resource managers) also acted as guardians who managed not only loko iʻa, but all ahupuaʻa (political-ecological land divisions) resources, including through implementation of kapu (laws holding spiritual repercussions; Maly 1998). In addition to the common translation of konohiki as resource manager, the term has also been interpreted as kono (ability) and hiki (to invite), meaning that the konohiki invited sustainable resource abundance (Andrade 2008). See Appendix 1.1.3 for further discussion of loko iʻa biology, and Appendix 1 1.2 for a discussion of invasive species impacts.
Many social, economic, and political factors led to continued declines in loko iʻa production and maintenance through the 20th century, including shifting economic conditions with colonization and the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893, disease and population decline, privatization and development of coastal areas, and lack of management leading to overgrowth by invasive mangrove and other plant species and sediment accumulation (Wyban 2020). Today restoration of loko iʻa is prominent throughout Hawaiʻi with over 40 loko iʻa and 100 loko iʻa owners represented in the Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa network, a network of fishpond practitioners founded in 2004 and founded by the nonprofit KUA, Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (http://kuahawaii.org/huimalamalokoia/; Wyban 2020).
To deepen understanding of GDE uses, values, and management strategies and challenges from the perspective of those connected to these systems today, we conducted 19 key informant interviews with GDE resource managers and lineal descendants with genealogical and ancestral connections to the GDE locations. Of our 19 interviewees, 16 are in formal GDE resource management positions within the study region, and 10 identified as Kānaka ʻŌiwi, including six lineal descendants of the Kona region (see Table 2 for description of interviewees). Three of the interviewees were both resource managers and lineal descendants of the Kona region. Of the nine interviewees who did not identify as Kānaka ʻŌiwi, all had been employed in Kona for over five years, and five for over 10 years. Where interviewees are not identified in results as lineal descendents or Kanaka ʻŌiwi, the interviewee did not self-identify as either.
Initial interviewees were met through the first two authors’ attendance of the Adaptive Management Symposium on Ground Water Dependent Ecosystems at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historic Park (Adler and Ranney 2018). We then identified other interviewees through snowball sampling (Creswell and Creswell 2018) and personal and professional connections in Kona. We did not speak with all resource managers in the region, nor did we speak with all knowledgeable lineal descendants; we instead focused on representation from ahupuaʻa throughout the region (Fig. 1). Semi-structured interviews focused on the historical and current uses and values of GDEs, current management strategies and perceived challenges, as well as desired futures (see Appendix 4 for interview questions).
In the context of this study, we use the term values to refer to the ways that GDEs are perceived as important and/or as providing (often reciprocal) benefits for individuals and communities, including how GDEs support appropriate human-environment relationships (Tadaki et al. 2017). In the results section we report the number of interviewees who brought up the importance of various uses and values, but these are not meant to suggest that those that did not explicitly bring them up did not find them important. Interviews were conducted at GDE sites relevant to each interviewee, which helped to facilitate conversations and understanding. The first author and primary interviewer of this study is not Kānaka ʻŌiwi, but was raised in Kona, and participated in GDE workdays and cultural events throughout her life. The fourth author is a lineal and cultural descendant of Kona, and the other authors are interdisciplinary researchers focused on the ecological and social dimensions of social-ecological systems in Hawaiʻi.
Following University of Hawaiʻi Human Subjects Review protocol, interviews were kept anonymous by only identifying quotes and information by location with permission from interviewees. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by major themes of this study: uses and values, management strategies and challenges, threats to GDEs, and visions for the future. Because many of the uses and values discussed were cultural or biocultural values, we used a Hawaiʻi-based cultural ecosystem service framework to categorize responses in this category (Pascua et al. 2017). This framework was developed with several communities in Hawaiʻi, including a community in Kona, and has been applied to several contexts including land use planning in Kona (Bremer et al. 2018a) and the cultural value of Indigenous agriculture in Heʻeia, Oʻahu (Bremer et al. 2018b). However, Pascua et al. (2017) emphasizes that the categories are overlapping and not meant to be prescriptive or comprehensive, but adapted to various contexts. The four main categories in the framework are: ʻike (knowledge); pilina kānaka (social connections); mana (spirituality); and ola mau (physical and mental well-being).
We engaged in an iterative research process where transcripts and the manuscript were returned to interviewees for comments and clarification. We also presented the work at several local events including the Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference and Hanauma Bay speakers series, always asking for permission and input before and after presentations. We circulated the manuscript to interviewees throughout the editing process, and iterated upon comments and revisions from each interviewee over email or phone.
Uses and values of GDEs in Kona
I think about the anchialine pools and the significance of the anchialine pools and how, if you have anchialine pools in your ahupuaʻa, especially in a place like North Kona, Kekaha Wai ʻOle,… you’re considered very wealthy.
- Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager (see Table 3.4.1 for expanded quote)
All interviewees emphasized the historical importance of GDEs as important water and food sources and as central to Kona politics and culture. The continued high social and cultural value of these systems is, in part, related to their storied history, as many GDEs feature prominently in moʻolelo and other accounts (Table 1). Interviewees pointed to the historical importance of anchialine pools and springs as a source of drinking water as a defining characteristic of Kona. Although anchialine pools and groundwater springs are not used as primary drinking water sources today, recognition of the historical importance of the pools and springs supports connection to kūpuna (ancestors) and to ancestral knowledge and practice. Given the high social and cultural value of these systems and recognition of their historical importance, restoration activities are primarily carried out through a biocultural approach (Kimmerer 2011, Morishige et al. 2018). Though not the most prominent of values discussed, interviewees also pointed to the financial value of GDEs as increasing property value and appeal of resorts through both aesthetics and by providing a “license to operate” through GDE preservation agreements with local communities.
The ʻōpae ʻula (the Hawaiian anchialine pool shrimp) helps to illustrate the biocultural importance of GDEs as well as the connections between their historical and current uses and values in biocultural restoration (Fig. 4). ʻŌpae ʻula are considered an important biocultural indicator of healthy anchialine pools, as stated by one Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager, “Anchialine pools have a lot of different purposes and one of the major purposes is to supply, to be home for ʻōpae ʻula... So once we see an abundance of ʻōpae ʻula come back, that’s when we can begin thinking of the reinstatement of practices again.” Interviewees explained that ʻōpae ʻula are desirable because they help maintain ecological balance by grazing algae and detritus, stirring up settled sediment, and increasing water flow from springs. Interviewees also emphasized the role of ʻōpae ʻula as central to Indigenous fishing practices.
Those working with anchialine pools (n = 15) expressed strong interest in restoring anchialine pools and ʻōpae ʻula populations for both ecological and cultural benefits, while some (n = 5) seek to support Hawaiian ʻōpelu fishing practices in the future by maintaining healthy ʻōpae ʻula populations (Fig. 4).
To look at how water moves in the different wai [water] from the mauka [mountains] to makai [sea]; how the cloud patterns in Kahaluʻu move, and what captures it in the forest; the drip systems that start the process of creating water for Hawaiʻi, it is not rivers or streams, it is all underground systems; so, we have a huge amount of water here.
- Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager and lineal descendant of Kona
Interviewees emphasized that GDEs are valued places that cultivate ʻike (knowledge) through facilitating kilo (observation) practices, which facilitates inter-generational biocultural knowledge, provides educational opportunities to learn by doing, and creates networks of knowledge sharing (Table 3.1). Interviewees discussed GDEs as sites important for perpetuating knowledge of Indigenous practices associated with cultivating, fishing for, and collecting fish, plant, limu, and invertebrate species (Table 3.1.1). In the words of a loko iʻa resource manager and Hawaiʻi Island resident, “To bring back the health and abundance of Kīholo fishpond to feed the community once again ... We feel that’s very significant, work in the pond, learn from the pond, and eat from the pond. It sustains and grows them, it makes that connection even more visceral” (See Appendix I.2 for expanded quote).
Alongside harvesting, GDEs provide opportunities to learn Indigenous food preparation practices and other uses of GDE materials, including weaving of GDE-associated plant species such as makaloa (Cyperus laevigatus), into mats and other products. Three interviewees referred to John Kaʻelemakule Sr.’s recording that makaloa was harvested from remnants of the loko iʻa of Paʻaiea, at Kaʻelehuluhulu and used to decorate the town church through 1928 (also documented in Maly 1998). Makaloa harvesting, in turn, is thought by resource managers to reciprocally benefit the plant and pond system by thinning leaves through careful harvest.
The majority (n = 10) of interviewees also specifically mentioned GDEs as important sites for observation of seasonal changes and natural phenomena, including flows of water from the uplands to the sea, and observing and recognizing GDE plants (e.g., limu) and animals (e.g., ʻōpae ʻula; Table 3.1.2). One resource manager and Hawaiʻi Island resident explained:
I like to think of the groundwater as almost the blood that keeps the pond alive, it’s coming in through lava tubes and veins through the watershed, it enters the fishpond, and then I like to think of the tides as the heartbeat, because it’s moving that fresh water around. (See expanded quote in Appendix I.2).
Interviewees emphasized that kilo observations are important for management of GDEs, but also have value for broader society in understanding links between people and the environment. For instance, a Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager stated the following:
We have to look beyond jobs just in natural resource and conservation, but also begin to bring up the awareness of our kids so they can have jobs like in the planning department, they have a deeper insight into how everything fits in and how what they do, how that will impact the source.
Many interviewees (n = 10) discussed GDEs and other native ecosystems as valuable outdoor classroom spaces for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education, as explained by a Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager and lineal descendant:
Our keiki [children], once we train them, can interact with the beachgoers and share knowledge of the place. This kind of experience provides them [experiential opportunities to develop] different skills, public speaking skills, confidence, transferable personal skills. That is as important as teaching them how to collect water quality data from a YSI unit.
Interviewees also highlighted how GDEs have also helped to create community knowledge-sharing networks (Table 3.1.3). Most interviewees (n = 15) are members of a network of loko iʻa and anchialine pool resource managers and practitioners for collaboration, education, and development of best practices amongst GDE knowledge experts (“Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa,” 2014). Beyond this group, called Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa, interviewees attested to eight cases in Kona where resource managers and lineal descendants work together to share knowledge that is relevant to management decisions for the regions they care for in various capacities, from informal advising to formal committee participation. Interviewees (n = 8) emphasized that these relationships are seen as central to understanding change over time and are based on reciprocal knowledge sharing of historical conditions, stories, and management and discussion of present conditions and challenges. Some interviewees (n = 7) highlighted formal committees of lineal descendants and cultural practitioners who advise on GDEs restoration, maintenance, and education. In other cases (n = 2), GDEs have been dedicated to lineal descendants in honor of the ʻike imparted by these individuals for the preservation and management of these systems, and memorial plaques and museums at these sites help to perpetuate this history.
Mana: spiritual connections
For me, it’s a really sacred relationship with Keahuolū... And you know the ahupuaʻa, it’s a relationship that you have with her and like with any relationship it’s only over time that you gain deeper and deeper understanding.
-Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager
GDEs are seen as important places to cultivate spiritual beliefs and practices, which supports relationships to place and past and future generations (Table 3.2). Another Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager explained, “When you begin to do things that are pono [righteous] in different environments because you understand that it also nurtures you. It spiritually nurtures you because you begin to understand this, everything and the interconnectedness.”
Many interviewees (n = 11) highlighted GDEs as wahi pana, or storied landscapes, by referring to the importance of place-specific practices and histories associated with these landscapes (Table 3.2.2). For example, nearly half of interviewees (n = 7) pointed to how GDEs in Kona are woven into the history of lava flows and interactions with the volcano akua, Pele. Interviewees (n = 10) highlighted that GDEs are intricately linked to the history of human settlement and political power as some loko iʻa were status symbols of aliʻi that were transferred with transitions of power. Several lineal descendents (n = 2) and Kānaka ʻŌiwi resource managers (n = 2) explained that the history of these places contributes to their mana, and this knowledge is imparted from generation to generation. Interviewees also referenced spiritual importance of GDEs as important sites for iwi (treasured remains; n = 5), one hānau (birth sites; n = 1), and physical links to family genealogies and practices (n = 3; Table 3.2.2). Five interviewees described GDEs and other ecosystems as spaces where Kānaka ʻŌiwi can reconnect with their genealogy and practices, especially those who have lost connections with their family history and culture. As stated by a Kanaka ʻŌiwi lineal descendant and genealogist:
The land needs the people, or the people need the land. To be able to know your genealogy and your connection to your lands, and knowing the genealogy of the lands is really important, because then from there you can go and you can do further study about where your kūpuna [ancestors] were from.
Most interviewees (n = 11), however, cautioned that some sacred spaces and GDEs should not be accessible to everyone. For example, some GDEs are considered huna (hidden, sacred) and may have specific cultural protocols for visiting or access may be restricted altogether, whereas other GDEs are more suitable for community workdays and broader education and outreach. Today, appropriate use of each GDE must be considered on a case by case basis, and should be revisited and revised as needed based on changing environmental and social conditions, similarly to historical decision making under the konohiki and the kapu system. Interviewees (n = 8) emphasized that proper cultural protocol should be followed to respect these spaces and the mana associated with them.
GDEs are also sites with prominent biocultural indicators, such as the return of the ʻōpae ʻula as described above (Table 3.2.3), as well as with place-based Hawaiian names that help perpetuate connection and relationship to place (Table 3.2.4). Interviewees expressed a strong personal connection to the state and existence of ʻōpae ʻula within GDEs, and a spiritual connection through shared space and practice to past and future generations of GDE stewards who valued and fostered generations of ʻōpae ʻula.
Pilina Kānaka: social interactions
It [working in the loko iʻa] feeds us spiritually and emotionally, it brings us together as a community. Many of these people I work with down here at Kīholo have become some of my closest friends. So, feed can mean many things.
- Resource manager, Hawaiʻi Island resident
GDEs are highly valued as places that support social interactions, connections, and networks (Table 3.3). Although there is interest in GDE restoration for subsistence, such as loko iʻa, restoration of ʻōpelu fishing with recovering ʻōpae ʻula populations, and thriving nearshore systems (Table 3.3.1), interviewees emphasized the importance of thinking about the multiple ways that taking care of GDEs “feeds,” including through fostering community connections to each other and to place (Table 3.3.2 and 3.3.3).
Many interviewees discussed the historical context of GDEs in the context of their importance for social connections (Table 3.3.2). For example, several (n = 5) interviewees mentioned how the Kona trail system connects upland and lowland communities in Kona, such that mauka (upland) communities have relied on makai (lowland) communities and the GDEs they steward for subsistence through the act of mālama (where people care for each other) through sharing resources. GDEs remained important places for gathering even after drinking water wells replaced GDEs as primary water sources. For example, a Kanaka ʻŌiwi lineal descendant explained that when she was young, even though they lived mauka, they would holoholo (journey) to the coast to valued GDEs: “even though they were remote places, they had a strong emotional attachment, and in those days, there were fish galore.” She went on to explain how important these sites are for perpetuating intergenerational social connections and knowledge systems:
So that is, I think, the value in the insistence on perpetuating this knowledge. You are not thinking in terms of years, you are thinking in terms of generations... to mālama [care for], is ... sustaining, not only the physical nature of water flow and our places in the hydrological cycle, but our relationship to the elements in the hydrologic cycle, including each other.
GDEs continue to be highly valued as places of social connections across generations. In the words of one lineal descendant, “Kīholo is one of those places that I feel contributed to my sense of identity and connection to where I am from because of the memories I made there with my friends and family.” Another Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager emphasized the need to perpetuate these connections: “it’s a matter of keeping interest of the children now who are going to be the future caretakers in future generations and it’s a matter of just getting a few of them interested in it, knowing the need, the purpose and the value of these areas.”
Many interviewees who manage GDEs (n = 8) hold regular community workdays to restore GDE ecology and practice, which maintain and strengthen social ties (Table 3.3.3). All emphasized the positive impacts of building a community that cares about GDEs, as well as the satisfaction gained by work day participants from seeing the progress of restoration. Being a part of something bigger and a part of a positive change was a common theme with interviewees who worked with volunteers, as stated by one resource manager: "it’s not easy work but they really love this place and to me that’s a sign of success and it’s positive that people feel invested in this."
Ola mau: well-being
It [interacting with GDEs] gives them [Kānaka ʻŌiwi and other youth] an opportunity in a non-threatening, non-judgmental space to be who they are ... it then allows them to drop some of the barriers, the fences that they create in their lives because of some of the trauma that they experience.
- Kanaka ʻŌiwi Resource Manager who works with Kānaka ʻŌiwi and youth programs
GDEs are highly valued for their role in individual, family, and community mental and physical well-being (Table 3.4). There is interest in some places in restoring food systems, largely for their potential to improve physical and mental well-being in the community (Table. 3.4.1). As explained by one interviewee, “the goal is to eventually have this [loko iʻa] be a place where we can harvest fish for the community.” Beyond any actual food produced, there was also a strong sense that engaging in GDE restoration and practice provides important mental and physical health and healing benefits (Table 3.4.2). In the words of one Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager,
They have to get in there and begin to contribute. When they’re healing the ʻāina [land] they’re healing themselves. So, as we go I don’t think that we should be doing it for them, we should be doing it with them. It’s an opportunity that we have there. It’s important that we make the effort to try to get the kids in here to do this, to work towards them. For them to experience the blessings and see the outcomes.
The majority of resource manager interviewees (n = 12) attested to GDEs contributing to well-being through emotionally and physically satisfying employment in GDE biocultural restoration (Table 3.4.3). Positive experiences associated with employment in GDE restoration include: seeing visible and measurable progress in ecological restoration work, seeing enthusiasm and understanding from participants, especially keiki (children), and seeing mental and emotional progress in at-risk-youth participants. Many also expressed excitement in being a part of the Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa network and seeing community-wide benefits ranging from eradicating invasive species to improved historical understanding derived from knowledge sharing there (Table 3.3.2 and 3.3.3). One Kanaka ʻŌiwi lineal descendant and resource manager explained that his ancestor approved a private license to operate for a luxury resort within their ancestral ahupuaʻa so that their descendants could be employed and continue living in the region.
Another aspect of ola mau is food sovereignty and sustainability. Some interviewees (n = 5) look to a time when the food production function and populations of food species of GDEs are more fully restored, including harvesting in loko i’a, ʻōpelu fishing, limu and invertebrate gathering, and nearshore fisheries. Even partial restoration of loko iʻa production contributes to enriched individual experiences with GDEs, especially where some harvests are restored.
As discussed in relation to mana, some GDEs continue to be used for healing today, in part because of their multigenerational and historical significance (Table 3.4.4). For example, one interviewee spoke of a basal spring that was historically important during times of drought, and has been and continues to be important for self-care and well-being today. Another interviewee explained that while their partner was battling cancer they would visit an anchialine pool, not only to bathe in the pool for pain relief and healing, but also as a special place to spend healing time as a family.
Perceived current threats to GDEs and management responses
Major perceived threats to GDEs mentioned by interviewees include invasive species (n = 18), sea level rise (n = 18), nutrient pollution (n = 16), tsunami damage (n = 13), degradation associated with overuse and increased access (n = 12), reduced groundwater flow (n = 10), over pumping of groundwater resources (n = 9), and direct displacement by urban development (n = 7; Table 4).
Invasive species (Table 4.1 and 4.2)
Management efforts first focus on the most proximate threats to GDEs, one of which is invasive species. Within GDEs, invasive species compete with natives for space and resources, and alter the structure and function of the ecosystem. For loko iʻa and anchialine pools management efforts are focused primarily on the removal of invasive fish, invasive terrestrial plants, sediment build up, and algal biomass (see Appendix I, Table 2 for a list of invasive species in GDE systems). In particular, removing invasive guppies (Gambusia affinis and Poecilia reticulata) in anchialine pools is a primary management goal because they are predators of native ʻōpae ʻula and disrupt the natural function of these systems (Havird et al. 2013); accordingly, removing them using various approaches including carbon dioxide treatment is a primary management goal. Note that sedimentation occurs naturally in pools, but more rapidly without ʻōpae ʻula because of their role as detritivores and movement through water channels between the aquifer and surface pools. With invasive guppy removal in anchialine pools, improved water flow and water quality has been observed and is attributed both to direct removal activities as well as to the return of ʻōpae ʻula, which continue to remove sediment and algae and increase water flow through their role as detritivores and movement through subterranean spring channels. See Appendix 1.2 for further discussion of invasive species within GDEs. Both anchialine pool (n = 15) and loko iʻa managers (n = 2) also described removal of invasive terrestrial plants, primarily Paspalum vaginatum and Batis maritima, which overgrow and disrupt GDE ecosystem functioning. These same resource managers (n = 17) described that sediment and excess algae removal to prevent subsidence over time in anchialine pool and loko iʻa systems is achieved through manual removal and the use of sediment pumps.
Resource managers (n = 17) highlighted the value of knowledge sharing networks to address GDE management techniques and collaborative approaches. Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa, in particular, has provided an important network for shared information and resources to respond to the threats within anchialine pools and loko iʻa, such as sharing strategies and lessons learned in managing invasive guppies and sediment removal techniques.
Tsunami damage and sea level rise (Table 4.3 and 4.4)
Most resource managers (n = 9) noted the devastating effects of a 2012 tsunami, including through deposition of sedimentation and rocks, facilitation of the spread of invasive species, and structural damage. Responses to tsunami damage included physical restoration, barrier construction, and sediment and species removal. Even more so than just tsunamis, most interviewees (n = 15) pointed to sea level rise as an important threat and that tsunamis are a preview for what would come with sea level rise (confirmed by predictions of shifting of pools inland and loss of some pools; Marrack 2014, 2016). Twelve resource managers attested to using the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System sea level rise prediction tool to plan restoration efforts (Hawaiʻi Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission 2021). Others acknowledged that GDEs will be so heavily impacted by sea level rise that some anchialine pools may cease to exist, while new GDES are likely to be created inland.
Groundwater quality and quantity (Table 4.5, 4.6, and 4.7)
Interviewees also pointed to the threat of declining SGD quality and quantity, related primarily to land-use change, wastewater management, and increases in groundwater pumping (Table 4.5 and 4.6). One lineal descendant and resource manager explained that she could feel and taste the change in Kona’s nearshore water quality during her lifetime, and that Kānaka ʻŌiwi now preferred to swim and fish in the more pristine southern Kaʻū region. Another lineal descendant expressed that the water temperatures along the coast have increased and that the quality has decreased in the nearshore with loss of freshwater springs, especially with dredging of Honokōhau Harbor. Interviewees also linked declining groundwater quality to declines in coral cover in the Keauhou aquifer, and bleaching on nearshore reefs associated with both the Keauhou and Kīholo aquifers. These changes were largely attributed to land-use change (e.g., urban development) and wastewater management issues, as described by one lineal descendant resource manager: “Water runs to the ocean from mauka to makai, but all the mauka lands have cesspools.”
A lineal descendant noted declines in culturally valued limu, and associated this change with declines in SGD quality and quantity: “I know Keauhou had the ʻeleʻele, [Ulva prolifera] I know that part is true and the kūpuna said they used to gather from that side, because we did, too, but it’s not there anymore ... it needs more cold water.” Others noted increases in algal growth as an indicator of increased nutrients or loss of herbivores within the ecosystem.
Urban development (Table 4.8)
Interviewees (n = 8) expressed regret at the loss of anchialine pools and spring resources associated with grading and filling of coastal lands for urban development, especially the loss of large anchialine pools within Lanihau ahupua’a for the development of the Old Kona Airport. One resource manager and Hawaiʻi Island resident highlighted how today informed and involved GDE communities have come forward to prevent development from impacting anchialine pool water sources:
So at Waikoloa they wanted to expand a huge development and basically wipe out a bunch of anchialine pools... The call went out to our Hui Loko network to all of our agencies that we need advocates at these meetings to say, one, you can’t just bulldoze anchialine pools, they’re valuable resources that should be protected. (See expanded quote in Appendix 2).
Others (n = 9) described the benefit of public-private partnerships and development agreements that protect GDE resources in perpetuity.
Overuse and increased access (Table 4.9)
Interviewees identified social media, geotagging, and tourism publications as sources of increased visitation to certain GDE systems (particularly small, vulnerable anchialine pools). Access roads and trails were also noted to increase the number of visitors to remote GDEs. Increased visitation, without education and personal connection, is seen as a major source of degradation of these systems, as explained by one Kanaka ʻŌiwi interviewee:
As with most of Hawaiʻi, our sacred and/or special places see more people, exposure, commodification, and at times, destruction. In today’s society of social media and Instagram celebrities, I see instances where people are willing to go to the extremes in order to ‘get the shot’ that will get them the most ‘likes’ even if they may not be aware of the negative impact they may be having on these places or people.
For example, in response to perceived insufficient staffing at state parks to educate visitors and enforce camping rules at Kīholo, the community, including lineal descendants responded by forming Hui Aloha Kīholo, a nonprofit management entity that monitors and protects natural and cultural resources, engages with and educates visitors, maintains the State Park reserve and manages camping. The Kīholo bay area is now jointly managed by the Division of State Parks and Hui Aloha Kīholo, which has improved many of the issues with visitor volume and misuse in this region.
Desired futures of GDEs
We also need to understand that the process is very important. If the process is not pono [correct and proper] then the outcome is never pono.
- Kanaka ʻŌiwi Resource Manager
All interviewees expressed a desire for GDE ecological function to be restored and maintained for future generations, along with continuing to perpetuate the history, practices, and social identity associated with these systems. Accordingly, many interviewees advocate a biocultural restoration and management approach. For some resource managers (n = 4), a key goal of restoration is to restore food production associated with these systems, whereas a larger number (n = 9) explicitly discussed restoring GDE-related Kānaka ʻŌiwi practices and language. Restored cultural practice is seen as a critical indicator of long-term restoration success, as one lineal descendant explained: “I always think about the practices that were passed on and where we are today, the gap that, for whatever reason there’s a gap, and we’re trying to re-establish the practice again.” Interviewees also discussed the importance of mālama (to care for), kuleana (honored responsibility), and pono (righteousness) as critical Kānaka ʻŌiwi values for biocultural restoration of GDEs.
There was also a strong sense of the importance of kūpuna (elder and ancestral) knowledge in informing management today. In the words of one Kanaka ʻŌiwi lineal descendent: "To learn the history, and to know that it’s not just an anchialine pool. There is a history to it, and if the kūpuna said so that is what it is.” Many interviewees (n = 8) also explicitly discussed the importance of GDEs for Kānaka ʻŌiwi children through providing opportunities for (re)connection to genealogy and history, for healing multigenerational trauma, and for reinstating cultural practices, Indigenous management practices, and balance in the ecology of these systems.
Interviewees generally advocated for adaptive management that integrates ancestral knowledge with modern management and technology to best care for these systems and associated knowledge and practices from the mindset of multigenerational preservation. One Kānaka ʻŌiwi resource manager pointed to a balance between technology and preservation: “We like the technology and we want to use it as much as possible to inform management decisions, just as long as we don’t push the boundaries to where it affects the integrity of the practice or the place. That’s something that we feel really strongly about.”
Interviewees (n = 10) expressed a desire to move toward a more holistic and thoughtful multigenerational planning and nearly all interviewees (n = 17) expressed some desire to look to the konohiki system of management, especially the inclusion of knowledgeable resident caretakers, to improve management of GDEs today. On defining konohiki as a system of resource management a Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager explained the following:
... resources, that again is a really Western term when we look at it... science uses it a lot but when you look at it from a Hawaiian perspective that is our sources, our sources of who we are, so, because, you’re related because there’s a kinship connection to these sources. It’s like other things, that’s stewardship. That feels good like you’re a good steward, but really it’s a kinship. (See expanded quote Appendix 2).
There was also a strong sense that GDEs are part of a broader connected ahupuaʻa system and that restoring and amplifying this relationship with the broader system is key. The importance of this relationship was expressed by a Kanaka ʻŌiwi resource manager who had worked in the area for 30+ years:
At first you just see the ahupuaʻa and you’re trying to understand the ahupuaʻa, but somewhere along the line the ahupuaʻa is teaching you. (See expanded quote in Appendix 2).
Perceived policy solutions to achieve these visions include limiting visitation to allow for “resting” of GDEs and creating a fee-based or tax-based system to fund docents for education and GDE maintenance. Additionally, interviewees (n = 5) suggested increasing setback laws to prevent additional development along the shoreline, which would protect existing GDEs and allow space for creation of new GDEs inland as expected with rising sea levels. Some resource managers (n = 6) asked for ingenuity in funding and policy that would allow them to efficiently enact GDE protections, for example, by allowing rapid responses to limit nearshore access during coral spawning. Other interviewees (n = 6) also highlighted desired improvements in GDE protection including impartial, high-quality environmental impact statements.
In addition to local-level interventions to achieve the aforementioned visions, interviewees emphasized the need for broader aquifer-wide interventions to prevent declines in SGD quality and quantity, particularly in the context of threats derived from climate change and future development. In particular, many interviewees (n = 14) pointed to the impacts of septic and cesspool systems on groundwater quality, and advocated for improvements in sewage treatment, while some (n = 2) advocated strongly for reverse osmosis sewage treatment and recycling of water.
This study highlights the ways people use, value, and care for GDEs in Kona, and provides insights into how Indigenous knowledge and practice informs sustainable land and groundwater management in Hawaiʻi and other coastal regions. In doing so, we help to address the critical need highlighted by Moosdorf and Oehler (2017) to better document the human uses and values associated with SGD and GDEs in order to better inform decisions that influence the health and abundance of these systems. Interviews also provide critical insight on steps and actions needed to support GDE stewards in protecting and restoring valued GDEs.
Though GDEs support the Kona economy through management jobs and increasing tourism and property value, our findings suggest that the most important current values of GDEs may be biocultural values well-aligned with the Hawaiʻi-based cultural ecosystem services framework developed by Pascua et al. (2017). Similar to conclusions about the cultural benefits of Indigenous wetland agriculture in Heʻeia, Oʻahu (Bremer et al. 2018b) using Pascua et al. (2017)’s framework, our findings also point to the importance of the process of restoration as fundamental to the benefits and values perceived today. This study is not a comprehensive record of values associated with GDEs in Kona, but does serve to elevate the human dimensions of GDEs, which have not been widely explored in the broader literature (Murray et al. 2006, Duarte et al. 2010, Moosdorf et al. 2015, Burnett et al. 2017), and has been identified as a key research need for groundwater management in Kona and in Hawaiʻi more broadly (Adler and Ranney 2018).
In line with the biocultural value of these systems, we found that the place-based history and historical uses of GDEs play an important role in influencing the current cultural (e.g., through customary rights and natural heritage) and economic (e.g., through tourism and employment) values of these systems. For example, the storied history of Kuhalalua spring in Keauhou as the birthplace of Kamehameha III elevates its cultural importance today because this spring is maintained for cultural value and as the site of Kamehameha III’s annual birthday celebration (Fig. 2d). Likewise, accounts of GDEs once providing abundant food sources for previous generations motivates restoration today, despite acknowledgement that restoring actual food systems may be far into the future.
In the context of GDEs, many of which once were vital to the people of Kona for drinking water and food production, managers generally recognize that restoration success does not rest in necessarily reviving all historical uses, but in the process of restoration that builds and re-establishes relationships between people, place, ancestral knowledge, and practice, and amplifies Kānaka ʻŌiwi deeply held relational values around caring for land, including mālama, kuleana and pono (Gould et al. 2019). This echoes broader efforts to employ biocultural approaches to conservation, which have accelerated around Hawaiʻi and beyond and which emphasize the reciprocal restoration of ecology and culture (Gavin et al. 2015, Sterling et al. 2017, Bremer et al. 2018a, 2018b, Morishige et al. 2018, Burnett et al. 2019, Chang et al. 2019, Winter et al. 2020a, Sato et al. 2021), and which highlight the role of the sacred in Indigenous conservation approaches (Kealiikanakaoleohaililani et al. 2018, 2020).
Supporting biocultural restoration of GDEs also requires shifting decision-making power to local resource managers and exploring models of community-based governance and Indigenous knowledge-based management of these systems. This has been similarly demonstrated for other systems in Kona (Kurashima et al. 2017, 2018, Bremer et al. 2018b, Sato et al. 2021, Kamelamela et al. 2022). For instance, biocultural restoration of dryland forest systems was shown to increase purpose and meaning in human relationships to place (Sato et al. 2021). Similarly, community-led restoration and Indigenous consensus-driven and place-based stewardship were shown to provide reciprocal benefits in restoring ecological function and Indigenous practice while building trust between community partners, articulating concepts of Indigenous and local knowledge-based restoration, (re)connection of Indigenous people to their land, and in addressing historical legacies of cultural and ecological degradation (Kamelamela et al. 2022). Community and Indigenous knowledge-based subsistence fishing and forest management areas and biocultural restoration offer potential adaptable models that may help to elevate Indigenous knowledge and local management systems broadly (Berkes 2004, Ostrom 2009, Vaughan 2018, Kamelamela et al. 2022; KUA Hawaiʻi 2016, http://kuahawaii.org/kaʻupulehu-try-wait-faqs/).
GDEs also face important challenges that on-site resource managers do not have direct control over, such as climate change and wastewater and watershed management. For example, sea level rise is projected to eliminate or severely alter some GDEs (by suppressing and otherwise altering SGD spring flow, and by submerging nearshore anchialine pools and loko iʻa), while also potentially creating new springs and pools inland (Marrack 2014, 2016). Tools like the Nature Conservancy’s sea level rise projection tool showing the impacts of sea level rise on Kona’s GDEs allow resource managers to prioritize restoration accordingly (Hawaiʻi Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission 2021). Interviews also highlighted desired improvements in GDE protections reflecting challenges outside of their control, including faster permitting for management response to emergency situations, impartial, high-quality environmental impact statements for development, increased shoreline setbacks, and time-wise resting or rotational closures of resources from human use.
In addition to climate change, interviewees pointed to the need for groundwater, wastewater, and watershed policy and management to more directly consider GDEs. Groundwater pumping for drinking water use and irrigation, for example, can result in a direct trade-off to GDEs through reduced flow and increased salinity (Burnett et al. 2020), though in cases where SGD is elevated in nutrients and other pollutants from wastewater and land management, even sustained flow can have adverse effects (Dailer et al. 2012a, 2012b, Delevaux et al. 2019, Wada et al. 2021). Hawaiʻi legislation requires upgrades of cesspool systems to septic or sewer systems, but legal compliance will likely be influenced by the upfront and long-term costs compared with available incentives. Upland of urban areas, there is additionally increasing attention to the role of watershed management in sustainable groundwater supplies (Bremer et al. 2021), as well as elevated efforts to reduce unnecessary human use of water and promote water conservation practice (Hawaiʻi Fresh Water Initiative 2015). Decision support modeling, such as that done by Wada et al. (2021), which identified land-use and wastewater management related impacts to GDEs and associated costs and benefits, could usefully link model outputs to potential outcomes for GDE biocultural values presented here for more informed policy decisions.
Outcomes of the aforementioned recent symposium on adaptive management of groundwater dependent ecosystems at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park held by the Commission on Water Resources Management (the state water regulator) pointed to the importance of establishing relevant social-ecological indicators of healthy GDEs as a way to assess the impacts of water use and development on these important public trust resources (Adler and Ranney 2018). Recent work on biocultural indicators demonstrates the importance of developing indicators embedded in local conceptualizations and definition of resilience (Sterling et al. 2017, Dacks et al. 2019, Ingram et al. 2020). The uses and values illuminated here can provide important guidance of developing biocultural indicators that truly shed light on the social-ecological health of the system. Our study points to important biocultural indicators of recovering GDEs, including the presence of ʻōpae ʻula in anchialine pool systems, and continued or restored Indigenous practices, such as the feeding of koʻa or harvest of GDE species. Using kilo observational practices to guide management decisions is also an important biocultural indicator (Morishige et al. 2018), as are the temperature, taste, and smell of water. Future research could further develop these indicators and inform decision making by evaluating the effects of current and future water quality and quantity related to wastewater management, water use, forest conservation, development, and climate change.
For more effective groundwater management and protection of these ecosystems, GDEs and GDE practices across multiple disciplines (i.e., Kānaka ʻŌiwi cultural practice, ecology, biology, conservation, social science, and economics) and scales (i.e., individual ecosystems, regional, ahupuaʻa, island, state, and worldwide) should be tied to GDE hydrogeologic connectivity, and should continue to address newly identified gaps in knowledge. Individual GDE-dependent species likely have specific needs for qualities and quantities of groundwater that may be adversely impacted by changing land use, groundwater pumping, or polluting groundwater. Finally, there is a need for better understanding of the required quality and quantity of groundwater required for cultural practices, to ensure that these practices can be perpetuated. Biocultural restoration of thriving GDE social-ecological systems depends on proactive and constant evolution of the integration of Indigenous people, knowledge, and practices, with science, technology, and policy.
The Indigenous people of Kona have a long history of resilience and adaptation that is instrumental in successfully facing challenges in GDE management (McMillen et al. 2017). Today, a growing number of leaders, including lineal descendants, Kānaka ʻŌiwi scholars and resource managers, and kamaʻāina (people born of this land) of other ethic backgrounds have elevated the value and importance of GDEs and have clearly articulated visions for a more sustainable future. In the face of urban development, wastewater management, sea level rise, invasive species, and other challenges, the Kona community is at the forefront of combining Indigenous knowledge and resource management practices with contemporary technology for GDE biocultural restoration. Supporting local resource managers and lineal descendants in achieving these goals through re-orienting governance and funding toward community-based management will be critical to the long-term ecological and social health of these important systems. Incorporation of GDE values and Indigenous practices into stewardship and restoration decisions and policy is critical to protect GDE systems in Kona and throughout Hawaiʻi, and further contributes to the broader movement to elevate Indigenous rights, knowledge, values, and practice into the continued stewardship and restoration of social-ecological systems worldwide.
RESPONSES TO THIS ARTICLEResponses to this article are invited. If accepted for publication, your response will be hyperlinked to the article. To submit a response, follow this link. To read responses already accepted, follow this link.
VG, LB, and KB contributed to research conceptualization and study design. VG and LB designed the study method and interview questions and conducted interviews. VG led the manuscript effort. NL, CS, LB, and KB assisted in writing, reviewing and editing the manuscript.
Mahalo nui loa, thank you very much, to all of our interviewees and community partners for their most valuable insight and manaʻo, without which this work would not have been possible. We thank our interviewees for their continued work with GDEs, and to those not interviewed, who dedicate their time and energy to the biocultural restoration of and community education regarding these systems, other systems, and Kānaka ʻŌiwi culture and worldview. The Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation, and Emmanuel Muketi Kilika Bennett, Marvin Puakea Nogelmeier, Uʻilani Au, J. Kapali Lyons, and ʻAnoʻilani Aga of the Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation carried out the Hawaiian language newspaper translations that are referenced in this manuscript and provided an important starting point for this research. We are grateful to Aunty Hannah Kihalani Springer for her guidance and insight on this project. We also thank Peter Adler, Greg Chun, and others who organized and participated in the Adaptive Management Symposium on Ground Water Dependent Ecosystems at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historic Park, which provided some of the inspiration for this study. We also thank the ʻIke Wai and and Water Resources Research Center research teams for collaboration and support. Finally, we are grateful to and acknowledge the kūpuna who shaped the worldviews and places that made this work possible.
We also acknowledge our funders, and that the views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any of the agencies listed. This project has been funded by the NSF Hawaiʻi EPSCoR Program through the National Science Foundation's Research Infrastructure Improvement award (RII) Track-1: ʻIke Wai: Securing Hawaiʻi's Water Future Award # OIA-1557349 and the USGS Water Resources Research Institute Program Award # G16AP00049 BY5.
This is contributed paper #CP-2022-08 of the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.
The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author, VG. None of the data are publicly available as institutional review board interviewee privacy agreements require that interview transcripts and participant information remain private. Ethical approval for this research study was granted by the University of Hawaii Human Studies program, which determined that this study is exempt from federal regulations pertaining to the protection of human research participants.
Largely, data/code sharing is not applicable to this article because no data/code were analyzed in this study beyond interview transcripts and value coding worksheets.
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Table 1. Groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) uses and values from two Hawaiian nupepā (newspaper) series: Na Hoonanea o ka Manawa by Isaac W. H. Kihe, and Na Hunahuna No Ka Moolelo Hawaii by John Papa ʻĪʻi, were translated by the University of Hawaiʻi Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation (ʻĪʻī 1923–1924, Kihe 1869–1870, Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Technology 2018). Nine of the total 38 articles in the two Hawaiian nupepā series describe loko wai kai (anchialine pools), five describe muliwai (nearshore brackish-marine ecosystems), and five describe loko iʻa (Indigenous aquaculture systems). Select translations from this series and detailed translation methodology can be found at, http://ikewai.org/hawaiian-language-translation-methodology/.
|Title of Article||Location/Ahupuaʻa||GDE||Uses and values|
|Keāhole Point||Keāhole point (to Upolu)||Nearshore||Fishing|
|The Spring of Wāwāloli||Oʻoma and Kalaloa||Anchialine pool||Bathing; drinking; fishing; romance|
|The Cave of Laʻina||Kaloko||Anchialine pool||Kapa (fabric) making|
|Puʻuokaloa||Kealakehe and Keaholū||Water basins||Agriculture; drought resilience|
|The Water of Kahinihiniʻula||Kaloko and Honokōhau||Anchialine pool||Bathing; ancestral connections|
|Keʻelehuluhulu||Mahaiʻula; Kaʻelehuluhulu||Anchialine pool||Navigation|
|The Water of Kāne||Kaʻūpūlehu||Coastal spring||Drinking; spiritual|
|Luahine Wai||Kīholo, Laemanō||Anchialine pool||Sacred water; ritual; bathing for aliʻi; beauty|
|The Pond of Kīholo||Kīholo||Fish pond||Ancestral connections; education|
|The Pond of Wainanaliʻi||Puʻuanahulu||Fish pond||Fishing|
|The Three Waters||Puʻuanahulu||Fish pond||Fishing; ʻōpae (for fishing); birthing|
|The Other Celebrated Places of Puʻuanahulu||Puʻuanahulu||Spring||Drinking; drought resilience|
|The Pond of Paʻaiea||Mahaiʻula, Wāwāloli, ʻOʻoma||Pond||ʻAku (Katsuwonus pelamis) harvesting, memorials|
|A Cave Called Mākālei||Makalawena, Kūkiʻo||Cave pool||Drinking during drought; ice water|
|A Story About Nanaikahaluʻu||Kalaloa||Cave pool||Drinking|
|Leaving Lahaina||Keōpū, Lanihau||Spring||Bathing; landmark; navigation|
|Much Famine in Kailua||Keōpū||Spring||Bathing; landmark; navigation|
|Fortifying the King’s Residence at Kamakahonu||Lanihau||Spring||Bathing for aliʻi; landmark; navigation|
|Resuming the Previous Discussion||Lanihau||Pond||Bathing; landmark; navigation|
Table 2. List of interviewees including lineal descendents of Kona families and resource managers. Institutional review board protocol for this study prevents us from releasing the names of our interviewees in this study. Some interviewees preferred for their positions and associated ahupuaʻa to remain anonymous; others preferred to be identified. Six interviewees were lineal descendents, three of those were also resource managers. In total 16 were resource managers. In addition to the three lineal descendant resource managers, four resource managers were Kānaka ʻOiwi but did not identify as lineal descendents of Kona.
|Interviewee, time in resource management (if known)||Organization(s)||Ahupuaʻa|
|1||Lineal descendant||Kaʻūpūlehu marine advisory council||Kūkiʻo; Kaʻūpūlehu; Kīholo; Puʻuwaʻwaʻa|
|2||Lineal Descendant||Anonymous||Kealakehe; Kāloko; Honōkohau; Kukiʻo|
|3||Lineal descendant; cultural practitioner||West Hawaiʻi Civic Center||Mahaiula; Makalawena; Keahuolū|
|4||Lineal descendant and resource manager, 52 years||Kohanaiki||Kohanaiki; Oʻoma; Kaloko; Hōnokohau|
|5||Lineal descendant and resource manager, 16 years||The Kohala center||Kahaluʻu; Keauhou|
|6||Lineal descendant and resource manager, 16 years||Anonymous||Broad Kona|
|7||Resource manager, 5 years||Kaloko Honōkohau National Historical Park||Kaloko; Hōnokohau|
|8||Resource manager, 4 years||Hawaii State Parks||Mahaiʻula; Kaulana; Holualoa|
|9||Resource manager, 13 years||The Nature Conservancy||Kīholo|
|10||Kanaka ʻŌiwi Resource Manager, 18 years||Anonymous||Anonymous|
|11||Resource Manager, 16 years||Anonymous||Anonymous|
|12||Kanaka ʻŌiwi Resource manager, lifetime Kona resident||Kohanaiki||Kohanaiki; Oʻoma|
|13||Kanaka ʻŌiwi Resource Manager, 38 years||Anonymous||Keahuolū|
|14||Kanaka ʻŌiwi Resource Manager, 8 years, lifetime Kona resident||Anonymous||Keahuolū|
|15||Hydrologist, 24 years||Kona Coast Waterkeepers Alliance; Former Chair County of Hawaii Environmental Management Commission||Broad Kona; Kahaluʻu|
|16||Resource manager, 13 years||Anonymous||Kīholo|
|17||Resource manager, 20 years||Anonymous||Broad Kona|
|18||Resource Manager, 16 years||The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority||Oʻoma I & II|
|19||Resource Manager, 6 years||The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority||Oʻoma I & II|
Table 3. Examples of groundwater dependent ecosystem (GDE) values associated with cultural ecosystem services categories, and examples of relevant quotes from interviews. The GDE values from interviews are coded with the Pascua et al. (2017) cultural ecosystem services framework. See Appendix 1 for additional quotes. Format adapted from Bremer et al. (2018b).
|3.1 ʻIke: Knowledge|
|3.1.1. Ma ka hana ka ʻike: Learn place based practices by actually doing them
(Interviews mentioned: 13)
|Opportunities to engage in loko iʻa restoration and management; fishing practices; learning about ʻōpelu fishing practice associated with anchialine pools; learning makaloa weaving and associated history; participating in and learning about ecological restoration and management practices; practice of place-based ʻoli (chants) and hula (dance)||“By learning more they [volunteers and educational participants] are connected to it, because they keep coming back, you know they really want to keep contributing and they believe in the project, they believe in the vision of what this place is transforming into. People really want a place where they can be active in contributing to something and I think this is the perfect site for that.”|
|3.1.2. Nānā i ke kumu: Observe familiar natural processes and seasonal occurrences
(Interviews mentioned: 13)
|Observation of GDE biota; observation of spring flow and water quality; seasonal observations; recognition of connectivity between GDEs and other parts of the ahupuaʻa; observing connections across the hydraulic system (rain, evaporation, spring flow); observing and recognizing ʻōpae ʻula biology and ecology||“The ʻaina [land] has created that opportunity, and to be privileged to be there and to witness these things happen is so magical ... the importance of the water, you know the fresh water that comes out, like we spoke earlier about this pond area right here, is a good example, you know it’s a nursery area. You look in there there’s all the pua [juvenile fish and other organisms], you know, all the babies that grow up in a really safe environment over there. You know, the coolness, you’re walking around and you can feel the freshwater on your feet, the cold sand coming up but it creates an environment that the pua feel safe. And this has been going on for generations. Who knows how long it’s been going on. When we look at our home and that’s why when you find the pua in places like this you know it’s a safe place for kids, it’s protected from whatever that may be threatening. So it’s important for this, for our kids, our other ʻohana, the ocean dwellers, the fresh water that’s coming out in different areas, I don’t know if we did any studies, but if you just look at what’s there it kind of tells me something.”|
|3.1.3 Hālau ʻike: Diverse formal and informal learning
(Interviews mentioned: 15)
|Living classroom for ʻāina-based, cultural, historical, and scientific learning; community workday education; learning of moʻolelo and history; knowledge sharing through Hui Mālama Loko iʻa network; learning family histories; shared knowledge of place names and events||“It’s also the cultural programs, it’s also providing time and space for the families to share their knowledge. It’s time for community. We host a lot of school groups so every month we have about 3 to 5 school groups come here for field trips where we’re hosting kids and we have a curriculum that we teach them place based outdoor education activities. So all of that combined I really think there’s this beautiful, it’s like a space where all of those things can happen.”
|3.2. Mana: Spiritual landscapes|
|3.2.1 Hoʻomana/Mauli Ola: Spiritual beliefs and practices that allow people to interact with the mana of the landscape
(Interviews mentioned: 6)
|Physical, mental, and cultural connections with GDEs; GDE knowledge and practices contribute to cultural identity; increased awareness of sacred sites; fulfilling a sense of kuleana (responsibility); connecting to ancestors through shared practice and place||“So, to be in that space at that time with an individual or a group is really special to see, you know? And you watch them. It’s just like magic that happens, you look at them and some of the kids, they can be kolohe [mischievous] as kolohe can be, they doing like that, but yet they reflect that they enjoyed that time over there doing these things. So, I don’t know how you put that down but it’s, you’re looking at like 38 years of memories of blessings that come, that the ʻaina has created that opportunity, and to be privileged to be there and to witness these things happen is so magical.”|
|3.2.2. Wahi Pana: Existence of and access to storied landscapes and associated place-based practices
(Interviews mentioned: 11)
|Recognition of one hānau (birth sites) and iwi (treasured remains) associated with GDEs; Learning names of storied landscapes and meanings of place and GDE process names; Opportunities to access and engage in cultural practice with GDEs||“There’s three translations of Kīholo, the last one being the one that’s tied to fresh water. One translation for Kīholo is a fish hook and it was a fish hook that was huge, it was about 2 feet long by a foot and a half wide and it was made of wood and then it had a bone tip. So a fish hook that large would catch sharks so Kīholo is a fish hook to catch sharks and there’s a lot of legends, a lot of moʻolelo about mano here. The point on the south end is Ka Lae Mano so shark action is definitely something present here. The second translation of Kīholo was a huge net that they would use to corral the fish in from the outer bay and they would use canoes. The net was about 125 feet long and they would bring the fish into the shallows for harvest. And the third translation of Kīholo, holo means flowing water and kī is an emphasizer, like a lot. Much. So Kīholo means a lot of flowing water. “|
|3.2.3. Hōʻailona: Presence of environmental signs/indicators and the ability to recognize them
(Interviews mentioned: 14)
|Recognition of GDE associated organisms; recognition of indicator organisms; management of GDEs based on environmental indicators||“Anchialine pools have a lot of different purposes and one of the major purposes is to supply, to be home for ʻōpae ʻula, and not all of our ponds have ʻōpae ʻula right now. So once we see an abundance of ʻōpae ʻula come back that’s when we can begin thinking of the practice, the reinstatement of practices again. There’s other species too that are in there that are indicators, but what it really comes down to is the ʻōpae. When the ʻōpae are happy, we’re happy. The ʻōpae are happy if they’re in the pools.”|
|3.2.4. I ka ʻōlelo nō ke ola, i ka ʻōlelo nō ka make: Presence of place-based Hawaiian terms/names describing the environment
(Interviews mentioned: 10)
|Presence of GDE specific names; learning GDE specific terms and practices||“We have one [pond] that is unique to this place, and that is the loko ʻauʻau. When we used to go down [to that place] my mother needed a private place to bathe, so my father built it for her. That is one thing I never heard of anywhere else, is the name loko ʻauʻau [bathing ponds].”
|3.3. Pilina Kānaka: Social Interactions|
|3.3.1 Hoʻolako: Perpetuation of practices/skills that allow individuals to provide for their families
(Interviews mentioned: 16)
|Producing food and other products through fishing, loko iʻa aquaculture, limu gathering, ʻōpelu fishing; gathering of resources; taking part in resource management; perpetuating cultural practices||“In terms of feeding people from within the pond we harvest, we have some invertebrates that we also harvest like Samoan crabs. Out on the reef, I mean Kīholo was a fishing village and it continues to be a source of food for the community. So, all of the families of Kīholo are fishermen so we go out on the reefs and we fish and we eat it and it’s delicious. People come to Kīholo to fish.”|
|3.3.2. ʻIke aku, ʻike mai: Opportunities to share traditional/local values and knowledge
(Interviews mentioned: 12)
|Youth education; tourism; employee education at resort properties; resident and resident guest education; walking tours; intergenerational learning||“If we can continue to educate the kids, the ponds will be there, the necessity of it, it’s a matter of keeping interest of the children now who are going to be the future caretakers in future generations and it’s a matter of just getting a few of them interested in it, knowing the need, the purpose and the value of these areas. For them to have just a want to take care of it and a want to have it for their future generations. I believe and I hope that it will continue for generations to come.”|
|3.3.3. Kōkua aku, kōkua mai: Presence of strong social ties/social networks
(Interviews mentioned: 14)
|Networking of GDE managers through Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa-network; community building through community workdays; common challenges and values amongst GDE communities; expanding social networks; shared work; community bonding; therapy; exchange of goods and work; connections to other social networks; lawaiʻa (fishing) camps bring children and practitioners together||“So I think that is the community aspect. There were a lot of people here today that have been coming every month for years and years and years. And that’s kind of amazing to me that people will give their Saturday and keep coming back. You know, it’s not easy work, but they really love this place and to me that’s a sign of success and it’s positive that people feel invested in this.”
|3.4. Ola Mau: Physical and Mental Well-being|
|3.4.1 Lako/Momona: Availability and access to subsistence resources rich enough for people to thrive
(Interviews mentioned: 8)
|Access to resources including; fish, limu, invertebrates, fresh water, unobstructed hydrogeologic dynamics, cloud formation, and precipitation||“I think about the anchialine pools and the significance of the anchialine pools and how, if you have anchialine pools in your ahupuaʻa, especially in a place like North Kona, Kekaha Wai ʻOle, you’re considered very wealthy, because you have access to water, you have access to a refrigerator, and you have the source for your ʻōpelu fishing. ʻŌpelu, the source for the people in this region.”|
|3.4.2. Hoʻoikaika kino: Opportunities for an active lifestyle to support the physical demands of specialized practices
(Interviews mentioned: 8)
|Opportunities to build strength, dexterity, and ability through physical work; benefits of being outdoors while doing work for self and family; appreciation and patience for work and results||“What I see is a lot of the kids and groups that have been here, some of the ways that she embraces them and how she nurtures them and how she helps them grow. So, when you take care of her like the anchialine ponds, you know, and the wai [water] that comes up in there [the bay] and you look at how it’s going there, how they grow. It gives them an opportunity in a non-threatening, non-judgmental space to be who they are. So they go in there and it then allows them to drop some of the barriers, the fences that they create in their lives because of some of the trauma that they experience. And to be vulnerable in a space like that and to be able to give and when they are able to give and contribute that is when they are more open to receive. And that’s when that feeling happens.”|
|3.4.3 ʻOihana: Opportunities for engaging in family roles and occupations
(Interviews mentioned: 11)
|Occupations as: resource managers, cultural practitioners, cultural advisors; roles within loko iʻa production and management, science, environmental monitoring, education, cultural practice; lessons gained through working with GDEs applied to other occupations||“And I think what it also does is when they begin to understand it more they begin to realize that whether you use it in your job or just your personal life, when you begin to do things that are pono in different environments because you understand that it also nurtures you. It spiritually nurtures you because you begin to understand this, everything and the interconnectedness and stuff. You know, everything. Just in their own personal lives I think that it will help heal some of the past and cultural stuff that has happened in the past.”|
|3.4.4. Moʻokūʻauhau/Noho Papa: Opportunities for multigenerational presence on and interaction with lands that foster security and sense of place
(Interviews mentioned: 14)
|GDEs act as a physical and mental sanctuary; therapy through physical work; pride; accomplishment; purpose; connection with ʻohana (family); mālama (to care for); kuleana (responsibility); programs for youth; lineal descendant involvement, community workdays, cultural events||“I’m going to be sharing the importance of place [with children GDE education participants], the importance of knowing your history, the importance of knowing your genealogy, because in many ways land and people are connected. The land needs the people or the people need the land to be able to know your genealogy and your connection to your lands, and knowing the genealogy of the lands is really important, because then from there you can go and you can do further study about where your kūpuna were from. That’s why I stress genealogy and the connection that our ancestors and that we have with the land. From there, once you know where your ancestors were from, who they were, from there if you want to take your interests even further you can go study about that ahupuaʻa with all the knowledge that is out there today.”|
Table 4. Groundwater dependent ecosystem (GDE) threats, negative impacts, and mitigation techniques from interviews. Counts reflect the number of interviews in which the threat and the mitigation techniques were mentioned. GDEs affected reflect the GDEs reported to be affected in interviews.
|Threat||Negative impacts||Mitigation techniques||GDEs affected||Interviews Mentioned|
|4.1 Invasive guppies (invasive poeciliids (Gambusia affinis and Poecilia reticulata)||Consumption of native ʻōpae ʻula; increased sedimentation; competition with other native species; decreased water quality||Eradication using CO2 treatment; hand removal; education to prevent new introductions||Anchialine Pools||18/19|
|4.2. Invasive vegetation (Seashore paspalum; pickle-weed; kiawe)||Increased leaf fall; increased sedimentation; reduction in water flow; reduction in native fish reproduction||Hand removal; community workdays; herbicides; heat treatment||Anchialine pools; loko iʻa; nearshore ecosystems||12/19|
|4.3 Tsunami damage||Filling of springs; pools with sediment and debris; introduction of species; physical damage||Physical restoration; sediment removal; maintenance of physical barriers||Anchialine pools; loko iʻa; nearshore||13/19|
|4.4. Sea level rise||Changes in tidal height; height of groundwater lens; locations of springs and ponds; changes potentially too fast or far for biota to adjust and move without assistance; inundation of cesspools/septic/sewage infrastructure||Using sea level rise maps to prioritize conservation and management; native plantings; anticipation of changes; preventative mitigation for sewage systems||Anchialine pools; loko iʻa; nearshore||18/19|
|4.5. Reduced groundwater flow||Irreversible decreases to watershed integrity through land use, compaction of the aquifer, reduced porosity, disruption of water flow through lava tubes and pores||Further hydrologic understanding of the watershed and inter-connectedness of water resources||Anchialine pools; loko iʻa; nearshore||10/19|
|4.6. Over pumping; decreases in water availability||Declines in water flow; alteration of salinity within GDEs; changes outside native species salinity tolerances and subsequent declines in these species||Designation as watershed management area; understanding relevant salinities and flow volumes to maintain GDEs||Anchialine pools; loko iʻa; nearshore||9/19|
|4.7. Nutrient pollution||Algal blooms; declines in native species; declines in water quality; increased invasive species and sedimentation||Improve sewage treatment; reverse osmosis and improved septic systems with no leakage||Anchialine pools; loko iʻa; nearshore||16/19|
|4.8 Overuse; increased access||Declines in water quality; introduction of invasive species; erosion of physical features; microbial introductions; trash pollution; human waste pollution; trampling; impacts on Kānaka ʻŌiwi practices||Increased education; reinstatement of konohiki monitoring systems; decreased access for unprotected systems; signage; seasonal or weekly closures for public systems||Anchialine pools; loko iʻa; nearshore||12/19|
Table 5. a
|E ui aku ana au ia oe,||One question I ask of you:|
|Aia i hea ka Wai a Kane?||Where flows the water of Kane?|
|Aia i lalo, i ka honua, i ka Wai hu,||Deep in the ground, in the gushing spring,|
|I ka wai kau a Kane me Kanaloa||In the ducts of Kane and [Kana]loa|
|He waipuna, he wai e inu,||A well spring of water, to quaff,|
|He wai e mana, he wai e ola,||A water of magic power The water of life!|
|E ola no, ea||Life indeed, o give us life!