The Great Freshwater or Kawainui Marsh

In ancient Hawaii islands were divided into various divisions. One of the divisions was called an ahupua’a. Ahu meant altar and pua’a meant pig. The ahupua’a boundaries were marked by the head of a pig placed on an alter.
If you can imagine a boundary going from the top of the mountains  and continuing down to the ocean you would be able to envision an ahupua’a.

On the island of Oahu  an ahupua’a existed on the side of the island called Kailua. There was a fish pond in this area. It required the whole community to clean the pond.
In a 60 to 70 acre pond it could require up to 10,000 people to work on it.
The Kailua pond was 850 acres so you can well imagine the number of people it took to care for it.

In time foreigners took the land from the Hawaiians and started growing rice, pineapple, and sugar cane and  drained the ponds and filled them in.
Not wanting to work  on the plantations, Hawaiians left to work cutting sandalwood to fill the demand of the foreigners.  Disease also played a part in culling the population.

Today this area has been brought back to life by individuals, school groups, community and Hawaiian cultural groups, and natural resources managers.  Kawainui Marsh

Pathway along Kawainui Marsh

It is worth the early morning drive to arrive at the marsh when the clouds are lifting. The walk along this path is about 3 miles round trip I believe.
It’s not the ocean nor the typical sunset that so many people envision when they think of the islands. There is a botanical garden  and a taro patch, and lots of fowl to watch along the way.

If you arrive early enough there is also a good chance of catching a golden sunrise. I caught this when I accidentally turned down the wrong road to the Marsh which took me along another road that was a large field but with a great view.
Along with the gardens and water plants and pathway, this is also a restored habitat for all water birds concentrating on indigenous fowl.

This is a black crowned heron (below) or Auku’u. According to what I read at this site the Adult “Auku’u doesn’t recognize its own young and will sit on any one’s brood. I guess it could be  called the on call baby sitter of the Marsh.

Here is a map if you want directions: Kauainui Marsh . Be early and be patient the sunrise and birds are worth the wait.

2 comments on “The Great Freshwater or Kawainui Marsh

  1. Annelies says:

    Great photo’s Karen! Is this far from your house?
    I enjoy reading your story’s about Hawaii!


    • Annelies, it is about a 45 minute drive from where I live. I’ve been promising Nico to take him there and you know you would think we would have to drive for days the way I’ve procrastinated on getting him there.

      Thank you, I’m happy you enjoy the post.


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