Nestled in the heart of Kihei, lies the historic landmark which deserves recognition. It is within the walls of Ko`ie`ie Loko I`a that fish were gathered for Hawai`i’s monarchy. Choice `anae (mullet) and `awa (milkfish) flourished and grew over three feet long! A size unthinkable today!
Ko`ie`ie is said to have been built by the legendary menehune. These people were said to have had remarkable characteristics in strength. They were said to be able to build a fishpond within one night. If the pond was not completed that evening, then it would remain incomplete.
Later, in the 1500’s `Umi-a-Lïloa had the wall rebuilt. It is said that the dust created by all the people, kicked up the dirt of the area and Ko`ie`ie was later renamed Kaleplepo, meaning “the dirt”.
Other ali`i also visited the Kalepolepo area including `Umi-a-Liloa (1500’s), Kekaulike (1700’s) Kamehameha I (1800’s), with the most recent reconstruction in the 1840’s under Gov. Ho`apili and a penal colony from Kaho`olawe.
Later, in the mid-1800’s the area of Kalepolepo was a bustling community as whalers traded for potatoes which were brought down from the slopes of Haleakala. A Protestant church built by Hawaiian scholar, David Malo, and a Morman church provided the public’s religious needs. And the landmark that is still famous today, known as the Koa House, was built near the wall of Ko`ie`ie Loko I`a. Here, goods were traded on a regular basis and the owner, Joseph Halstead, frequently entertained royal Hawaiian guests.