AES Clean Energy grants $10K matching gift to Malama Hule‘ia

NIUMALU — With Giving Tuesday afoot, AES Clean Energy has pledged a $10,000 matching donation to Malama Hule‘ia for their efforts to restore the Alakoko “Menehune” Fishpond.

Earlier this month, Malama Hule‘ia was granted the 102-acre fishpond also known as “‘Alekoko” after the successful purchase by nonprofit The Trust for Public Land. The buy was made possible with a $4 million charitable gift from the Chan Zuckerberg Kaua‘i Community Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation.

“We know that protecting this land in perpetuity is just the first step toward a much bigger project and goal of restoring the fishpond to once again feed the community,” Malama Hule‘ia Executive Director Sara Bowen said Monday afternoon.

Bowen said funds would go toward developing a strategic master plan and vision for the property with community input as well as creating new on-the-ground projects to stabilize the fishpond wall and reconnect freshwater hydrology.

All of these new plans will be in addition to the nonprofit’s mangrove removal and ecosystem restoration goals. Soon, Malama Hule‘ia hopes to get more in-person action with their community workdays, which have been on hold since March 2020, due to the ongoing pandemic.

“We’re super thankful and grateful for the contribution from the Chan-Zuckerberg foundation, but also, we’re looking forward to all this new kuleana to engage with,” Bowen said.

The Restore the Fishpond campaign is Malama Hule‘ia’s first grassroots fundraising campaign, Bowen said. The group is looking at needing about $4 million over the next five years to accomplish the work they’ve identified.

“Malama Hule‘ia’s long-term vision of working together with the community, utilizing both modern technologies as well as their indigenous wisdom of Native Hawaiian fishpond practices was really inspiring for us,” Kirstin Punu, AES Clean Energy community engagement manager, said. “I think their goal, ultimately, to restore Alakoko to feed the community … really helps the island, but also provides this roadmap for the state to becoming closer to more sustainable and food secure.”

More information can be found at restorethefishpond.org.

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