Hawaii's Last Native Fishing Village, Mokauea Island

Shirley Leilani Kellogg
Shirley Leilani Kellogg
Joni Bagood
Joni Bagood
Donna Kahakui
Donna Kahakui

By Mari-Ela David

OAHU (KHNL) -- Most of Oahu is now developed, but there is a tiny place near the island that has managed to retain old Hawaii.

Not much is left, but a native island fishing village still stands there. It's the only one left in the state.

Mokauea is a tiny island residents say is either forgotten or unheard of.

Only five families live on Mokauea Island. For them, their commute to and from Oahu is a constant trip between the past and present.

"It's very difficult because everyday you have to get on your boat and go up to shore. If that motor doesn't work or something happens or there's a bad storm you still have to go," said Shirley Leilani Kellogg, a resident.

Mokauea's families use propane tanks for cooking, generators for electricity, and they hope to revive the fishpond on the island which was a source of food for more than a dozen families in the 1800's. Their mission is to preserve the last remnants of this historic fishing village.

"This canoe is over 130 years old and it was found on this island. And this is one of the last canoes that's this old," said resident Joni Bagood.

In the 70's the fishing village was nearly destroyed. The government came in, evicted the families living there, arrested several for trespassing then burned down several homes.

"In comes the state, they want an airport and burn people's houses down. In comes John Kelly and he says 'hey, we want to restore it'," said Donna Kahakui, the founder of Kai Makana, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring Mokauea Island.

Due to public pressure, the state leased the land to the fishermen and their families, let them rebuild their homes and restore the island.

Their relatives continue that work today, in hopes of reviving a precious piece of Hawaiian history that was almost wiped away.

Kelly was part of a group called Save our Surf. He formed the Mokauea Fishermen's Association back when the state kicked out residents. Those living on the island today are part of the association.