Historically, Hawaiian lands were divided into ahupua‘a, adjacent watersheds stretching from mountains to sea. While communities once farmed, cared for, and sustained a spiritual land ethic toward ahupua‘a holistically from mauka (mountainside) to makai (seaside), today many are no longer the clean and productive watersheds they once were as these traditional practices have fallen away. In He‘eia, an ahupua‘a on the island of O‘ahu, several nonprofit organizations are working to revitalize a cohesive ahupua‘a management system that can serve as a model for other ahupua‘a in Hawai‘i and around the Pacific, as well as serve as an example of holistic management practices in the twenty-first century. In the uplands, one organization works to restore the ahupua‘a’s stream by removing invasive plant species and replanting native flora. In the kula lands (flatlands), another group works to restore the wetland that filters inflow into the bay by planting kalo (taro) and revitalizing traditional Hawaiian polyculture. At the seashore, a third nonprofit is working to restore an 800-year-old fishpond with the intent to promote food security while conducting research on Hawaiian history and water quality. All three groups run extensive educational programs for locals and visitors of all ages and work to keep pollutants out of the watershed and stream as it flows downhill and out onto the reef. By weaving modern technologies, tools, and information together with stories, songs, and attitudes that embody deep and ancient ties between mankind and land, this creative and cooperative management is returning food security, sustainable culture, and resilience to the hands of the community.

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