Clean-up of historical Mokauea Island

By Olena Rubin

A forgotten treasure of Hawaii history makes its way back to life with the help of residents, volunteers and devoted environmentalists.

More than a hundred volunteers spent the day on Mokauea Island removing debris, litter, garbage, invasive and overgrown plants.

“We want to keep this island alive and we want to revive it,” says Joni Bagood isle resident.

Mokauea Island located off the shore of Sand Island boat launch is only 3 acres in size, but carries with it substantial ancient memories as a historic treasure in Hawaii history.

"This is actually one of a few fishing islands that we really have left in Hawaii,” says Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, volunteer.

Originally exclusive to Hawaiian royalty the islet became part of a highly productive fishing community.

But increased boat traffic and strong currents have lead to a rubbish build up on the island... and residents have struggled to keep it clean.

"Its been wonderful, I am at a loss for words as far as describing it, it truly is a blessing, a blessing long time prayed for,” says Bagood.

Hundred of volunteers have come to clean the island, restore it and provide educational opportunities for children.

"Our mission is an educational mission…that has been from the very beginning, having children coming over and learning about how the fisherman used to fish before," continues Bagood.

Isle residents and a non-profit marine wildlife conservation organization partnered with New Hope, Kamehameha schools, and several canoe clubs to initiate the clean-up on a regular basis.

"It made such a huge difference. So you know you look at the residents and the residents are happy and their like wow people actually care about us, we thought everybody forgot about us,” says Donna Kahakui founder of Kai Makana, a non-profit ocean education through action organization.

The volunteers helped remove tons of trash from the island.

"For me to be a part, to be a part of today is truly a gift to be able to see the amount of difference we have been able to make in just one day is amazing,” continues Kahakui.

Kai Makana along with New Hope meet every second Saturday of the month to clean the island from 8:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.

Story Updated: Oct 27, 2007 at 8:09 PM HDT