Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Kawai Nui Marsh's beauty reappears

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau

KAILUA — A panoramic view of Kawai Nui Marsh not seen in more than 20 years was opened this month as chain saws and heavy equipment attacked the thick hau forest that has hidden the historic fishpond from passers-by.

The clearing of a quarter-mile of brush has provided a panoramic view of Kawai Nui Marsh in Kailua not seen in more than 20 years. The marsh is home to one of the largest fishponds in the Islands built by Native Hawaiians.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

Although City Councilman Steve Holmes had been hacking away at the growth on weekends for about two years, a city excavator accomplished as much work in one morning recently as Holmes had in a year.

"I was chipping away at it for quite a bit of time," Holmes said. "I got my reward when the excavator came out to finish it off."

About a quarter-mile of hau and haole koa that lined Kailua Road has been removed by the city, state, Holmes and a few volunteers. Holmes, who spends a few hours a weekend on the project, said he'll continue until he reaches the vicinity of the town sign, about 50 more yards.

Clearing the brush and creating an informal parking area near the gate to the dike road, a popular walking/jogging path, has increased traffic there, Holmes said.

Kailua residents said they appreciate the efforts and like having the view open again.

"We've had this beautiful vista all the time that we never could see," said Carol Ann Ellett, a member of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle. "I think it's wonderful."

Home to one of the largest fishponds in the Islands built by Native Hawaiians, the marsh is dotted with cultural sites, including two heiau and ancient taro loi. More recently, rice and cattle were raised there.

Once the area is cleared — if money can be provided — native plants will be planted on the banks to prevent erosion, Ellett said.

The ulei, a native woody vine, is being considered in hopes it will reduce maintenance on the banks.

Holmes, working alone or with volunteers, has also cleared property along Hamakua Drive in Kailua, at Waiahole Beach Park and at Kawa'ewa'e heiau in Kane'ohe for at least three years.

He calls the work a hobby, but the benefit has been to the community at large. He's considering attacking the Kalaheo High School side of the marsh once this project is completed.

The city will try to provide the excavator one more time, said Carol Costa, city spokeswoman.

"The excavator just crushed down the hau and the haole koa to below road level," Costa said. "Now you have a sweeping panorama."

The excavator would easily clear the last 50 yards to the Kailua Town sign, including a couple of big trees and brush, Holmes said, adding that working on the sloped banks with a chain saw has been difficult.

"I'm sure I could drop (the trees) with the chain saw, but it would be nice to have the excavator come back one more time," he said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.>/i>