Lehoʻula, Hāna…

Our stay in Hāna started at Holani Hana, a property cared for by the Sinenci ʻOhana. Uncle Palani Sinenci and his wife Esse are some of the most hospitable people Iʻve ever met. They hosted a fishpond conference under their hale, allowing over 100 caretakers of fishponds throughout Hawaii to camp on their lawn. Luckily, I got to tag along with Paepae o Heʻeia and share in this experience with them.
Francis Palani Sinenci is an expert hale builder. From the outdoor bar, to the pizza oven, to the enormous hale that stands 80ʻx30ʻ, you can see he is the king of DIY “Hawaiian style.” He also led the restoration of Piʻilanihale Heiau in Hāna and helped prepare Puʻukoholā heiau for the Hoʻokuʻikahi Celebration in 2010. The man can do it all.

Uncle Palani Sinenci (aka U.P.S.)

From there, some of us drove over to Oprah Winfrey’s gate just down the road, and others walked down her privately owned coast to get to Leho’ula, where many believe stands the first lokoiʻa (fishpond) ever constructed in Hawaiʻi.

Legend has it that this lokoiʻa was built by Kuʻulakai, a man possessed with the supernatural powers of controlling the fish of the sea. Here lie the remnants of what he built centuries ago.

One day, a giant puhi (eel) from Molokaʻi stole fish from his lokoiʻa. Kuʻulakai ordered his son ʻAiʻai to capture and kill the puhi. ʻAiʻai captured the eel and dragged him onshore before killing it with ʻala stones and cutting off his head. The iwikuamoʻo (backbone) of that puhi still lies here at Lehoʻula.

Uncle Palani will be leading the restoration of this fishpond in the coming months. Many fishpond practitioners, including Paepae o Heʻeia, have vowed that they will return to offer their kokua in the restoration of this sacred place.

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