Mokuhinia was a wetland that evolved over thousands of years in the Lahaina floodplain directly behind the shoreline, in an area that would have been marshy plains and enclosed by a pu’uone sand dune. Early Hawaiians discovered this natural wetland and began to utilize its resources. Samples of soil sediment from the pond of Mokuhina were tested by radiocarbon dating. This has shown some early dates for the arrival of Polynesians to Hawaii.

Mokuhinia fishpond in 1910 before it was drained and converted into a baseball field.
Mokuhinia fishpond in 1910 before it was drained and converted into a baseball field.

Over time it was used as a Loko O Mokuhinia fishpond. Eventually, the Fishpond became the residence of Hawaiian Royalty, and a one-acre island was built, and managed water flow was achieved in the loko with the use of auwai channels. Access to the island was via causeways, that were guarded during the time of Royal use.  This wetland and fishpond tell the story of natural wetlands and their eventual evolution into fishponds through the process of Hawaiian indigenous aquaculture. Many Hawaiian wetlands have a natural history as well as a strong cultural and historical connection. All wetlands should be examined closely for archeological and historical artifacts and preserved for future study and cultural posterity.

Original locations of Hawaiian Fishponds around Mokuhinia
Original locations of Hawaiian Fishponds around Mokuhinia (Source:

Mokuhinia, a 17 acres (6.9 ha) spring-fed, wetland pond. The pond was reported to be the home of Kihawahine, a powerful moʻo or lizard goddess. According to myth, the moʻo was a reincarnation of Piʻilani’s daughter, the chiefess, Kalaʻaiheana. Hawaiians cultivated loʻi kalo (taro patches), and fishponds within Mokuhinia.

Archaeological and historical investigations demonstrate that the surrounding Loko Mokuhinia pond was the site of indigenous Hawaiian aquaculture and pondfield (taro lo‘i) agriculture.

Mokuʻula is a tiny island now buried beneath a present-day baseball field in Maluʻulu o Lele Park, Lahaina, Hawaiʻi. It was the private residence of King Kamehameha III from 1837 to 1845 and the burial site of several Hawaiian royals. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) island was and continues to be considered sacred to many Hawaiians as a piko, or symbolic center of energy and power.(Source, Wikipedia).

The_Presbyterian_Church,_Lahaina_watercolor,_by_James_Gay_Sawkins (1852) (now called Wailoa Church)


King Kamehameha III’s Royal Residential Complex

By SeaHorsePunch - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By SeaHorsePunch – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Restoration of Mokula: The fishpond has been the site of investigation and archeological restoration, There are many plans and ideas about restoring this pond, including the Army Corps of Engineer’s plan to restore the 10-acre fishpond. To date, only a small amount of excavation, and preliminary restoration has occurred.Mokuʻula excavation site, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons





Moku‘ula History and Archaeological Excavations at the Private Palace of King Kamehameha III in Lahaina, Maui, Written by P. Christiaan Klieger, Stephan D. Clark, Boyd Dixon, Susan A. Lebo, Lonnie Somer, Dennis Gosser, and Heidi Lennstrom, Date of Publication: February 1995, Pages: 425, Bishop Museum Anthropology Project 505 Available from Bishop Press

More Information
Learn more about this Native Hawaiian Sacred Site by reading Moku`ula, Maui’s Sacred Island, by P. Christiaan Klieger.