Strengthening Our Sense of Place: Loko Iʻa in Koʻolaupoko

The overall purpose of this unit is to strengthen a sense of place in Koʻolaupoko, to raise awareness and gain knowledge about Native Hawaiian fishponds, and to convince others to care about the restoration of Hawaiian fishponds. This is an integrated unit of study that hits on NGSS standards about Earthʻs natural resources, C3 standards about early Hawaiians using natural resources to meet their needs and modify their environment for the ahupuaʻa to thrive, and ELA Common Core standards.
This curriculum is still under review by faculty. Units identified as Under Review have been submitted by educators. While they are available to view now, they are currently being reviewed by our curriculum committee for addition to this site.

Standards Aligned

Next Generation Science Standards, Social Studies (C3), Common Core ELA, Na Hapena A'o

Community Partner(s)

This integrated and thematic unit of study is rooted in place and community, specifically rooted in the Koʻolaupoko region on the island of Oʻahu. This unit is adaptable for other places with Hawaiian fishponds (loko iʻa). In strengthening our sense of place, this unit focuses on Na Hopena Aʻo values, senses, and ways of being. This unit builds and connects to previously taught units of study, as well as future units of study that focus on strengthening a sense of place in Koʻolaupoko. Other units also work in partnership with community partners and places in Koʻolaupoko, such as Hoʻokuaʻāina kalo farm, ʻŪlupo Heiau, cultural practitioners in Waimanalo, Kaiona Beach, Kaupō Beach, and Kaʻohao. Mālama Koʻolaupoko, Mālama Honua!

This unit contains 13 lessons. Four of the lessons are learning journeys to fishpond sites. You will have to arrange for your learning journeys ahead of time and you may have to revise the order of the lessons to accommodate your learning journey schedule. For an overview of Hawaiian fishponds, or “loko iʻa,” check out the Maui Fishpond website at

Essential Question

How might restoring fishponds make Hawaii better and how do we convince people to do so?

Enduring Understanding

  • The ahupuaʻa system was essential to the sustainability of Hawaiʻi. Loko iʻa were an essential part of an ahupuaʻa system because they sustainably fed an entire population.
  • Fishponds were necessary because Hawaiians could not always rely on fishing alone because ocean conditions, weather, and other factors could hinder the catch.
  • The building and management of loko iʻa required a values-based system and a lot of community contributors working together for the life of the community.
  • Today people are restoring fishponds to increase Hawaiiʻs awareness of how we need to live more sustainably to prolong the life of our islands.

Learner Level Elementary

Primary Content STEM, Social Studies, Cultural Knowledge