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The following is an excerpt from He Wahi Mo‘olelo no nā Ke‘ei ma Kona Hema, a collection of traditions, historical accounts and kama‘āina recollections of Ke‘ei, South Kona, Hawai‘i. It is used with the permission of Kepā Maly, Cultural Historian and Resources Specialist.
The excerpt has been edited by Ka‘iwakīloumoku for typographical errors only; the orthography is presented exactly as it is found in He Wahi Mo‘olelo no nā Ke‘ei ma Kona Hema.
Myra Luika Maile Ke‘ohohou-Mitchell was born at Pōhakupa‘akai (Kapahukapu) in 1930. Kupuna Maile’s mother was Annie Pēnoni Kapule, her father was David Ke‘ohohou. The Kapule genealogy ties her to several families with generations of residency in the Kalama-Ke‘ei vicinity, as well as various ahupua‘a of the larger Kona District. Among her kūpuna are Kalokuokamaile, Kalua, and Keawe. Kupuna Mona Kapule-Kahele (who also participated in this interview program), is her elder cousin. These two kūpuna share many similar recollections about the land, practices of the native families, and travel via the old trails and alanui, but each also shares unique stories and personal experiences.
Kupuna Maile described her family’s practices and relationships with the land and ocean resources. In her youth, almost all of the family’s food came from what they grew and what they could catch from the sea. She also shared important accounts of the family’s care for a shark in the Ke‘ei vicinity, and stories of mo‘o deity in the Kealakekua-Kahauloa section.
Kupuna Maile also participated in an earlier interview (cited in the next section of this study), in which she expands upon such matters as family, kūpuna names, and residency in the Nāpo‘opo‘o region. And subsequently with other family members, she participated in the group interview of August 30th, 2002 that follows in this section of the study. The interviews were primarily conducted in Hawaiian, with selected texts translated below each paragraph. Kupuna Mitchell granted her release of the interviews on December 5th, 2002.
KM: Kūkū like before, we’re recording here today, but it will come home to you. We’ll go through it and if there is something we need to ‘oki like we will.
KM: But the whole idea is so that we can put together another study that focuses on these makai lands and the relation between mauka-makai, and the ‘ohana. Mahalo nui i kou ‘ae ‘ana i kēia hui hou ‘ana. A noi ‘ana wau iā ‘oe me kekāhi o nā hoaloha paha, inā iā kākou ke hui hou i kekāhi lā a‘e.
Thank you so much for agreeing to meet again. And I’m going to ask you if we might get together once again, perhaps with some friends, on another day.
KM: Me tūtū, aunty Mona paha, a me kekāhi o nā kama‘āina. Kama‘āina ‘oe me Bill Pānui?
With aunty Mona, and some of those familiar with the land. Do you know Bill Pānui?
KM: Keiki a tūtū Louis.
The son of tūtū Louis.
MM: Ku‘u ‘ohana kēlā o Pānui, mai Ke‘ei kēlā keiki.
That’s my family, Pānui, that boy is from Ke‘ei.
KM: ‘Ae. Pō‘akolu, i Honolulu, ua hele wau a launa me ia.
Yes. On Wednesday, I went to visit him.
KM: Ō, maika‘i ka mo‘olelo. No ka mea kona papa, mea ha‘i mo‘olelo.
The stories were good. And his father was a historian.
KM: A ua kākau ‘oia i kekāhi mo‘olelo i ka nūpepa, Ka Hoku o Hawai‘i. A kona inoa peni o Kaehukaiopalemanō.
He wrote historical articles in the newspaper, Ka Hoku o Hawai‘i. His pen-name was Kaehukaiopalemanō.
MM: ‘Ae, ‘ae.
KM: Kēia kupuna o Bill Pānui, ‘ano like me ‘oe, hānau ‘oia i ka 1928, so pili me ‘oe.
Kupuna Bill Pānui is like you, he was born in 1928, so close to you.
KM: Ua ‘apo ‘oia i ka mo‘olelo. So e hui paha me uncle Bill, me aunty Mona, me ‘oe a me kekāhi po‘e e a‘e, a e noho aia ma ka lae kahakai o Palemanō.
He really embraced the history. So we’ll meet with Uncle Bill, aunty Mona, you, and a few other people, sit down near the shore of Palemanō.
MM: ‘Ae, ‘ae.
KM: Noho a kala‘ihi. So i ka manawa ku pono, hiki?
Sit down, talk story. So when the time is right, will that be okay?
MM: ‘Ae, hiki no, hiki.
Yes, can, can.
KM: Mahalo! O Mrs. Awa, ua hā‘ule?
Thank you! Did Mrs. Awā pass away?
MM: O Dorcas, ua hā‘ule. Ma‘i ‘oia, a hā‘ule, i kēia makahiki . . .
Dorcas, she passed away. She was ill and passed away this year . . .
KM: Aloha . . . Hānau ‘oe i hea?
Sad . . . Where were you born?
MM: I Nāpo‘opo‘o.
KM: Ma kēia pā ‘āina?
On this land?
MM: ‘Ae. Kēia pā, i loko o Kananiokalāhikiola. ‘O wau ‘umi kūmāeiwa kanakolu, ua hānau.
Yes. This lot, in Kananiokalāhikiola. I was born in 1930.
MM: Ku‘u papa o Kawika Ke‘ohohou, a ku‘u mama o Annie Pēnoni Ke‘ohohou. Ku‘u kūkū o Kualau Kalua Kapule. Tūtū wahine o Mele Mary Kealoha-Kapule. Iāia male Kapule.
My father was David Ke‘ohohou, and my mother was Annie Pēnoni Ke‘ohohou. My grandfather was Kualau Kalua Kapule. Grandmother was Mary Kealoha-Kapule.
KM: ‘Ae . . . Kūkū, kēia pā ‘āina no kou po‘e kūpuna?
Yes . . . Kūkū, this land was your grandparents’?
KM: A ua wehe mai ‘oe ia‘u, lo‘a kekāhi pā ilina?
You told me before that there was a crypt here?
MM: I loko o kēlā [pointing to crypt on south side of property] . . . Ua nui loa ku‘u po‘e kūkū kahiko loa. Mākou kūkū me ke kamali‘i kūkū, pau loa kūkū i loko laila. A kēlā manawa . . . Ua hānau ku‘u mama he ‘umi kūmākāhi kamali‘i, ku‘u mama lo‘a. But ‘elua make, a kēlā manawa make kēlā keiki, ku‘u kūkū nānā, ke pa‘i hemo, a pa‘i ‘ia, a a‘ale hemo i kēia lā.
In that enclosure . . . There are many of my ancestors there. Elders and their children, there are many in there. At that time . . . My mother gave birth to 12 children, that’s what my mother had. But two died, and that time, that the children died, my grandfather looked about and saw that the covering on the crypt had been removed, so he went and closed it, and it hasn’t been removed to this day.
KM: ‘Ae. No‘ono‘o paha o tūtū no ka wehe ‘ana o ka ‘īpuka, ‘oia ke kumu hā‘ule kēlā po‘e keiki?
Yes. Your grandfather thought that it was because of the opening of the entrance, that was why those children died?
MM: ‘Ae. Ku‘u kūkū ‘ōlelo, "‘O ‘oe hana ka imu ma laila, pau ka puhi o ka pōhaku, pani ‘oe."
Yes. My grandfather said, "When you make an imu there, and the fire and stones are done, you close the hole."
KM: ‘Ae, mai waiho wale.
Yes, you don’t just leave it open.
MM: ‘Ae. "‘O ‘oe waiho kēlā wahi, hā‘ule ho‘okahi."
Yes. "If you leave that place like that, someone will die."
KM: ‘Ae. Na kou tūtū paha i hō‘ili‘ili i nā iwi kūpuna a ho‘okomo i loko o kēia pā ilina?
Yes. Now was it your grandfather who gathered up all the ancestors’ bones and placed them in the crypt?
MM: ʻA‘ole, iāia i ho‘ohalihali ke kino kau i loko laila.
No, he gathered the bodies and placed them inside.
KM: Hmm. Pehea kou mana‘o e pili ana ka pā ilina ma ka ‘āina, pono e mālama, e waiho mālie?
What do you think about the burial places on the lands, is it best to care for them, leave them as it?
MM: Waiho mālie, mālama kēlā wahi . . .
Leave as is, take care of that place . . .
[Discusses lā‘au kahea and healing arts practices by her kūpuna and passed down to her.]
KM: . . . So kūkū, this ‘āina that we are in is Kahauloa?
MM: [thinking] ‘Ae. Kahauloa mane‘i. Hele mai Ke‘ei, Keawaiki, Kahauloa, Manini.
Yes, Kahauloa is here. You come from Ke‘ei, Keawaiki, Kahauloa, and Manini.
KM: A Manini, he inoa hou?
Oh Manini that’s a new name?
MM: ‘Ae ka wahi mane‘i o Pōhakupa‘akai.
Yes, the place here is Pōhakupa‘akai.
KM: Pōhakupa‘akai, so before, was poho pa‘akai over here?
MM: ‘Ae. Mai kēia kihi a ma laila [indicating to the south], o Pōhakupa‘akai. Mai kēia kihi i lalo loa [towards the sea] o Kapahukapu.
Yes. From this corner to there, is Kapahukapu.
KM: A, ‘oia ka inoa?
Oh, that’s the name?
KM: So kūkū, you have Pōhakupa‘akai, and then Kapahukapu . . .?
KM: And now, loli ka inoa to Manini?
The name changed to Manini?
KM: And these are within the ‘āina of Kahauloa?
MM: ‘Ae, ka ‘āina o Kahauloa.
Yes, the land of Kahauloa.
KM: Then you said . . .?
MM: [pointing south] Ke‘ei, Keawaiki, Kahauloa, me Manini, mane‘i.
KM: ‘Ae. When you were young . . . earlier when we were talking, you said now, because of the sanctuary, there was pilikia. That even the native families can’t go out fishing here. Is that correct?
MM: ‘Ae, a‘ole hiki mākou hele. Kēlā kihi i waho laila [pointing north] . . .
Yes, we can’t go. That point out there . . .
MM: ‘Ae. Hiki ke hele, akā i loko nei, a‘ole hiki.
Yes. We can go there, but not in here, no can.
KM: But when you were young?
MM: Pau loa kēia wahi mākou hiki ke hele ki‘i. Ka i‘a me ka wana, me ka . . . [thinking]
This whole place, we could go and fish. The fish, urchins and . . .
KM: Ka limu paha?
MM: ʻA‘ohe limu. Well, lo‘a limu ‘ōpihi, but uaua. ʻA‘ole hiki ‘ai kēlā mea uaua kēlā.
No limu. Well, has ‘ōpihi seaweed, but it’s tough. That one can’t be eaten, it’s tough.
KM: Ai ma loko o kēia hono, a‘ole limu maika‘i?
So in the bay, there’s no good seaweed?
MM: ʻA‘ole limu maika‘i. Ka wana, ka i‘a, me ke kole a me ka mā‘i‘i, ma ke ‘ū‘ū [chuckling]. Ka manini kekāhi, lā‘īpala, a nui kēlā i‘a.
No good seaweed. The urchins, the fish, the kole, the mā‘ī‘ī, and the ‘ū‘ū. There’s also manini, lā‘īpala, there’s a lot of that fish.
KM: ‘Ae. And in your youth, you went all out here?
KM: Did you folks also travel the land and go out to Ke‘ei?
MM: ‘Ae, ‘ae. Mamua, a‘ohe hale. Mākou holo ma luna o ka papa.
Yes, yes. Before there weren’t any houses [only a few residences, mostly native families, between Kahauloa and Ke‘ei]. We went along the stone flats.
KM: ‘A‘ole ma ka alanui kahiko?
Not along the old trail?
MM: ‘A‘ole, ma ka papa wale nō.
No, just along the stone flats.
KM: Pili me ke kai?
Along the ocean?
MM: Pili me ke kai. Hele mākou, hele ki‘i limu pāhe‘e.
Along the ocean. We went and gathered pāhe‘e seaweed.
KM: I hea?
MM: I Keawaiki. Noho mākou, kēlā manawa, nui ka wai hele mai uka, a noho mākou a ‘ohi ka limu pāhe‘e, a komo i loko o ka ‘eke. Pau lo‘a hapa ‘eke, a ho‘i mai. Ho‘i mai a hele mākou lu‘u, ka wana a me ka hā‘uke‘uke i loko wai. ‘Ula‘ula kēlā hā‘uke‘uke.
At Keawaiki. We’d sit at that time, there was a lot of water that came from the uplands, and we’d sit and gather the pāhe‘e seaweed, put it in out bags. Enough when there was half a bag, come back. We’d come back and go diving, get wana and hā‘uke‘uke urchins in the water. That hā‘uke‘uke was red.
KM: ‘Ae . . .
MM: Mākou hana kai, ‘ai ‘ia me ka i‘a maka, lomi aku i loko o ka mea . . . [chuckles]
We make gravy with that and eat it with the raw fish, massage it into the things . . .
KM: ‘Ae, maika‘i, ‘ono.
Yes, good, delicious.
MM: ‘Ae. Me ka nī‘oi i kēlā manawa. Mamua loa, ka po‘e hele mai me ku‘u kūkū, ‘o ‘oe a‘ole lo‘a mea iloko o ka hale, o ka nī‘oi me ka pa‘akai wale nō, ‘o ‘oe hele mai i loko, ‘ai. Ka po‘e kanaka hele mai, "Hele mai ‘oe, lo‘a nī‘oi me ka pa‘akai . . ." Mākou, ‘eono mahina, ku‘u papa hele i uka, hele lo‘a pu‘a, pipi a ho‘i mai. Ho‘i mai a komo i loko o ke kelamania. Kāpī me ka pa‘akai.
With chili peppers at that time. Way before, the people that would come with my grandfather, if you don’t have anything in the house, only chili pepper and salt, you come inside and eat. The people come, you hear them call, "Come inside, there’s chili pepper and salt."
KM: Ka pa‘akai, mai kēia ‘āina?
Was the salt from this land?
MM: Mai ma ne‘i, ma luna o ka papa, nui ‘ino nā puka.
From here, on the flats, there was a lot of salt.
KM: Poho pa‘akai?
MM: Kāheka. Mākou hele ‘ohi ka pa‘akai a komo i loko o ka ‘eke, a hele a kaula‘i ka pa‘akai. A hele ki‘i ‘ulu, hele ki‘i kalo a ho‘i mai ma ne‘i a kuke.
Small pools. We would go gather salt, put it in the bags, and come back dry the salt. We’d go gather breadfruit, go get taro and come back and cook them.
KM: ‘Ae. Kou pā ‘āina makai nei, ua kanu paha o tūtū i ka ‘uala?
Yes. Your lands here, near the shore, did your grandfather plant sweet potatoes?
MM: ʻA‘ole, i uka, kula. Hala ‘oe i ke ala nui ma Kāhikolu, ‘ehiku eka ma laila.
No, it was above on the kula. You pass the road by Kāhikolu, there are seven acres there.
KM: ‘Oia ka ‘āina kula?
Oh, the kula land?
MM: ‘Ae. Kanu ‘oia i ka ‘uala me ka ‘ulu, a me ke kalo. Pau loa kēlā mea.
Yes. He planted sweet potatoes, breadfruit and taro. All of those things.
KM: Pala‘ai paha, pū?
How about pumpkin, squash?
MM: Pala‘ai, i kai nei me ke kō maoli.
Pumpkin down here near the shore and native sugar cane.
MM: Kēlā mea poniponi.
That purple one.
KM: He ‘uahiapele?
MM: ‘Ae. Kēlā, ‘o ‘oe ‘ai, a‘ole pa‘akīkī, palupalu kēlā mea . . .
Yes. That one, you eat, it’s not hard, it’s soft . . .
MM: [thinking] Mamua loa, i loko o Kealakekua, i luna loa, he wahine mo‘o i loko laila.
Way before, in Kealakekua, way up, there was a woman-lizard in there.
KM: I luna o ka pali?
On top of the cliff?
MM: ʻA‘ole o ka pali, i luna loa. ‘O ‘oe hele i loko, kēia hale i loko laila, ho‘okāhi nui ka wahi ‘au‘au, ka wahine mo‘o noho ma laila. Hele mai i kai, i luna o ke alanui. Mākou kūkū ‘ōlelo, "‘O ‘oe, a‘ole nānā." Like pū ka mea kekāhi, ka wahine i‘a, noho i loko o ka pōhaku o Kealakekua. Hele ma laila hana ‘oia kona lau‘oho, kahe ‘ana.
Not on the pali, way up. You go inside, that house there, there’s a number of bathing ponds, and the lizard woman lives there. Sometimes she comes to the shore, along the trail. My grandmother told us, "You don’t look." Just like the fish woman, who lives in the rocks of Kealakekua. She goes there and combs her hair.
MM: Mākou, ʻa‘ole nānā.
We don’t look.
KM: Kēia po‘e mo‘o, noho ma ka lua wai?
These lizard people, live in the water holes?
MM: ‘Ae. Ku‘u kūkū ‘ōlelo, "‘Oukou hele, kīloi i loko o ka wai, ka laua‘e. Inā lana iluna, hiki ke ‘au‘au. Inā lu‘u, ‘o ‘oe, a‘ale hele." Like pū me ka wahine i‘a, lākou mamake ‘oe, lawe iā ‘oe.
Yes. My grandmother said, "When you go, throw a laua‘e leaf in the water. If the leaf floats, you can swim. If it goes down, you can’t go." Just like the fish woman, when they want you, they take you.
KM: Hmm. Kūkū from Kealakekua, like Keawekāheka to Palemanō, is there something about the bay being protected that you heard of? Did a manō protect this area?
MM: Yes. All I know is . . . Kēlā manawa, ka mo‘olelo o ku‘u kūkū ‘ōlelo, iāia i hānai ho‘okāhi manō i Ke‘ei. Iāia hele i ka lawai‘a a hā‘awi, hānai i ka manō.
At that time, all I know is the story my grandmother told me, she would care for a shark at Ke‘ei. When she’d go fishing, she’d give, feed the shark.
KM: Hānai poli?
MM: ‘Ae. Iāia hele lu‘u i Ke‘ei, kēia manō hele. Inā mawaho kēia manō, ‘o ‘oe hele i waho i ke kai. I loko nei kekāhi, mākou, hiki ke ‘au‘au kai.
Yes. He’d go dive at Ke‘ei, and this shark would go. If this shark is outside, you can go out in the water. When it’s inside, we can go swimming.
KM: He kia‘i, he ‘ano manō kanaka?
So a guardian, a protector of people?
MM: ‘Ae, ‘ae. Ku‘u kūkū, a‘ole ‘ai manō, a‘ale. A pūhi kekāhi. Iāia mo‘olelo, ku‘u kūkū. "Mamua loa, ‘elua ‘ohana i luna o ka moku, hele ia nei i waho. I luna o kēia moku . . . Kēlā wahine mamake ‘ia ho‘okāhi sela moku i luna o kēlā moku. ʻA‘ole mamake hele. Ku kēia mea . . . moku i luna o ka wai, kokoke ho‘okāhi makahiki. Mahape, kēia pūhi hele mai kahea, kēia i kēia ‘elua kanaka, ʻlu‘u i loko o ka wai.’ [chuckling] ʻA‘ole lāua mamake, nānā aku i ka pūhi kahea ‘ana. But lu‘u kēia kanaka, a kēia pūhi moni kēia ‘elua kāne a hō‘ea i uka nei i Kahauloa. A puhi aku i waho, hele mai kēia kanaka ma waho."
Yes, yes. My grandmother wouldn’t eat shark, no. Also the eel. My grandmother had a story, "Long ago there were two families on a boat, outside here. On that boat . . . That woman the fish woman] wanted one of the sailors on the boat. But he didn’t want to go. So this boat was anchored on the water for about one year. Later this eel came and called these two men, ʻDive into the water.’ They didn’t want to because they saw it was an eel calling them. But for some reason they dove in and this eel swallowed the two men and took them up to the shore at Kahauloa. The eel then spit them up and the men came out."
KM: A pae ma ka ‘āina?
Landed on the shore?
MM: ‘Ae. A ‘ōlelo mai ku‘u kūkū, "Kū aku ma laila. ‘Ike lākou."
Yes. And my grandmother said, "they stayed there. They saw them."
KM: He ‘ano kūpua kēlā puhi?
So this was a supernatural eel?
MM: ‘Ae . . .
KM: . . . Now you folks, you would holoholo, go fishing all along this coast line?
MM: Hele ‘ohi ‘ōpihi, ‘a‘ama, me ka ‘ōkole, me ka loli, pua, ma lalo o ka pōhaku. Kēlā mea, ‘ono. Ka mea ma lalo o ka pōhaku. Holoi, holoi, hana me ka pa‘akai.
Go gather ‘ōpihi, ‘a‘ama, and ‘ōkole with the sea cucumbers, the one that is beneath the rocks. That thing is good. The one that’s beneath the rocks. You wash, wash, and make with the salt.
KM: ‘Ae, pau ka waliwali.
Yes, until the slime is gone.
KM: Kūkū, out here, were there fishermen, who were like the main ones?
MM: Ho‘okāhi i luna laila [pointing to Kealakekua pali], noho maluna a nānā.
There was one on top there, he’d stay above and look.
MM: ‘Ae, maluna o ka pali.
Yes, above the pali.
MM: ‘Ae, noho ma laila. O Mona, iāia ‘ike ka mo‘olelo o kēlā wahi, kanaka noho i luna a ‘ike ka i‘a hele mai ‘ana.
Yes, stay there. Mona, she knows the story of that place, the man who’d stay up there and watch the fish come.
KM: A nāna no i kuhikuhi?
So he would direct them?
KM: A o ka i‘a nui o kēia hono, ‘o wai?
And what was the important fish of this bay?
MM: ‘Ōpelu, akule.
KM: A, ‘ike ‘oia, kū ‘ana ka ‘ōpelu . . .?
So he would see that schooling of the ‘ōpelu . . .?
MM: ‘Ae. Kahea ‘ana ka po‘e, "Hele mai ‘ana." "He ‘aha ka i‘a?" Hele mai ‘ana ka aku paha, ka akule paha, kawele‘ā paha.
Yes. Calling the people, "they’re coming." "What kind of fish?" Perhaps it was the aku coming, perhaps the akule, or perhaps the kawele‘ā.
KM: ‘Ae. And along the way, was there some that was noted fishermen at Ke‘ei that you remember?
MM: [thinking . . .]
KM: Or if you folks wanted to, you could go there fish at any time?
MM: Oh yes. ʻA‘ale kapu kēlā manawa. Mamua loa, mākou hiki ke hele i luna, mākou mamake i ka mai‘a hiki ke hele. Heke i loko, ‘ohi ka mai‘a. Kēia manawa, a‘ole hiki, kahea ‘ia ka maka‘i. Mākou mane‘i, a‘ole mākou hele . . . mai Ke‘ei wale nō. ʻA‘ole mākou hele i Hōnaunau.
It was forbidden in that time. Way before, we go up, if we wanted bananas we could go. Go inside and gather bananas. Nowadays, no, the police are called. Us here, we didn’t go . . . only from Ke‘ei. We didn’t go to Hōnaunau.
KM: So you folks went as far as Ke‘ei?
KM: Moku‘ōhai section like that?
MM: By Palemanō.
KM: Palemanō. Tūtū, I have a map here for you, this is a Bishop Estate map No. 824 it’s of the Ke‘ei section. It goes from the Kahauloa boundary. I thought you would like this map.
Kupuna Myra Luika Maile Keʻohohou-Mitchell