Restoring Mokauea Island - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Restoring Mokauea Island

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Shirley Leilani Kellogg Shirley Leilani Kellogg
Tandy Awaya Tabata Tandy Awaya Tabata
Eleu Bagood Eleu Bagood
Donna Kahakui Donna Kahakui

By Mari-Ela David

OAHU (KHNL) -- There is a movement to restore Mokauea Island, the state's last native island fishing village that almost became extinct. A non-profit group called Kai Makana is spearheading a movement to restore this living piece of Hawaiian history.

Its vision to restore Mokauea Island has become brighter over the years. Only five families live there, all struggling to bring their village back to its traditional state.

"It's a wonderful way of life that our people have forgotten. Even the cousins my age, a lot of them, don't know how to fish, don't know what to do if I bought a fish and threw it at them. They wouldn't know what to do, and that is sad," said Shirley Leilani Kellogg, a resident.

Today, mangrove has sucked oxygen out of the fishpond, which was once filled with enough food to sustain the village. And everyday Oahu's trash washes up on the island.

"We have a stove which is quite a large item that you probably wouldn't think would make its way here," said Tandy Awaya Tabata of Envision Hawaii, a group helping with Kai Makana's mission.

With the help of the community, Mokauea's residents have begun to remove the rubbish, the mangrove and other invasive plants. For them, reviving their island means reminding Hawaii of its precious past.

"For the future generation wouldn't know what it used to be like, how the history of the Hawaiian islands and the fish ponds were. They wouldn't have a living example. They could read it in the text books but it wouldn't be the same to have it actually see it nowadays," said Eleu Bagood, a resident.

"If we can remember our past, if we can remember our ancestors, if we can remember how Hawaii used to be then we will remember what we need to do to take care of it," said Donna Kahakui of Kai Makana.

Kai Makana's project continues the work of John Kelly. He helped save the fishing village after the state kicked families off the island in the 70's and burned homes down.

Kai Makana along with 200 volunteers will hold an Earth Day cleanup on Mokauea Island April 19th.

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