What was the importance of natural Wetlands to Ancient Hawaiians?

Natural wetlands played an important role in the lives of ancient Hawaiians, providing a range of resources, including food, water, and materials for construction and other purposes. Wetlands were also important cultural and spiritual sites, and were often associated with deities and considered sacred. One such deity was Kihawahine (or Mokuhinia) which was worshipped at Moku‘ula/Mokuhinia

Hawaiians would often modify wetlands to enhance their ability to produce food. One way they did this was by constructing fishponds, which were used to raise and harvest fish and other seafood. Fishponds were typically built in coastal areas, and were often connected to natural wetlands or springs. The water in these ponds was carefully managed to create an ideal habitat for the fish and other seafood being raised, and the ponds were often stocked with species that were native to the area.

Hawaiians also modified wetlands to create specialized environments for other purposes, such as the cultivation of taro, a staple food in ancient Hawaii. Taro was typically grown in wetland areas, and Hawaiians would modify these wetlands by constructing terraces, channels, and other features to control the flow of water and create a suitable environment for taro cultivation.

Mokuhinia, ca. 1910, black and white
Mokuhinia Pond, Lahaina Maui. ca. 1910, R. J. Baker, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons