Kahele, Robert (Part 2)
Waipi‘o: Māno Wai, An Oral History Collection by The University of Hawai‘i Ethnic Studies Program
Robert Kahele, Hawaiian, was born on May 1, 1917 in Honoka‘a. Since the family lived in Waimanu Valley, Robert and his mother went back to Waimanu shortly after his birth. He spent about four years in Waimanu before moving to Waipi‘o for one year. From Waipi‘o, the Kaheles moved to Kukuihaele. Robert grew up speaking Hawaiian and English. Robert finished the eighth grade at Kukuihaele School. His father died when he was about 12, so Robert became, “the man of the house,” responsible for harvesting taro and pounding poi for the family. After the eighth grade he took a job with the plantation for two years. At age 18 he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Waimea. After a year and a half there, he worked for a Pa‘auilo transportation company. Then he served four and a half years in the military on O‘ahu. Robert returned home to Kukuihaele in about 1946. He worked two years for the County, but because he sought freedom and independence, he started farming taro in Waipi‘o. About seven years ago (1970) Robert moved back into Waipi‘o Valley where he farms taro—right next to his hanai brother Joe Kala’s patches.
In 1978, Vivien Lee and Yukie Yoshinaga-Solmoiraghi from the University of Hawaiʻi’s Ethnic Studies program interviewed Waipiʻo residents for an oral history project called Waipiʻo: Māno Wai. Robert Kahele’s interview is included in Volume 1 of this published project.
RK: Yeah, John was the bugga was rolling inside that cane field. Then my uncle went up and ask him, “Hey, somebody give you anything to eat?” He said, “Yeah, that lady. She gave me one manju.” So my uncle help him take him home and my uncle start fixing him up and he became good, so . . . .
YY: What did he do?
RK: Just prayer like thing. And accusing this kahuna guy of pouncing on innocent people, taking for granted they can get innocent people any time they feel like. What happened was my brother became good again. So that’s why he tried to remind me not to take anything from these people. Even my sister was, although she didn’t get involved in that, but she was always warning me, because I was the smallest one.
VL: Did your family use hoʻoponopono?
VL: Can you describe how that worked?
RK: By getting most of the family together, your immediate family. Get ’em together and discuss these antagonistic feeling towards one another or any sort of a feeling that you really cannot, that won’t, any kind feeling that sort of take away peace from the home or get somebody into trouble, like that. All these things, you bring ’em out and then try forgiving one another. And by your own admission, you sort of release that person from that bondage, the words that sort of bond that you put over that person. It can be your brother. Like see, if I said, “My brother did this thing which I didn’t like and I got . . . I hope this happens to him.” Those are words that bound him to something where it might actually come true. And he’s not guilty, you the one that’s guilty. So before that thing happen you have to make yourself right among your family. And as such the one who is affected realize that . . . The thing between the family supposed to be that bond that exist between the family. Without the bond, it’s sort of a thing that would break up the home.
VL: Would you get together for hoʻoponpono only when you have problems?
RK: Yeah. Sort of like there’s a need for hoʻoponopono when you get problems. Other then that, no. You just go about your . . .
VL: So, it’s not a regular, week thing?
RK: No. No.
VL: And who would bring all the family together? Whose responsibility was it?
RK: Either my father or my mother.
YY: After your father passed away, then was it your mother?
RK: Yeah, my mother used to believe that.
VL: Now, say you had a problem or something, you wanted to have hoʻoponopono. What would you do? Would you ask for it, or would you ask your mother to ask for it?
RK: Most of the time we have this family prayer thing in the evening when all the family come together. And we sort of have this meeting among us. And if you have a problem, that’s when you bring out your problem. Because nobody knows what your problem is until you come out with it. Oh, it has to be before you go to sleep, everybody come together. When there’s no problem, then all we do is have a little prayer meeting and you go to sleep. But during those meetings, there might be a problem with somebody in your family. That’s when you come out with it.
YY: What were the prayers like?
RK: The prayers were more in a Christian type way. I guess something that has to do with your belief. That you really believe in and it comes so. It becomes what you create in your mind, it’s like increasing your pain. Although, like say, we haven’t seen God. Nobody in my family, at least, has seen God. But they all believe there is a God. Where they take their problems to, and that’s how they create this thing that there is a powerful being that is able to intercede for them. And that’s how hoʻoponopono thing comes in. That’s more Christian.
VL: Did your family have an ʻaumakua?
RK: Yeah. My mother had. She had the owl as an ʻaumakua. This incident happened, that was between my mother and father as they were going back to Waimanu. Well, they were at a party and at a party you consume a lot of liquor before you go back. On their way back they got into an argument. So my father sort of wanted to beat my old lady up. This was during the night going back to Waimanu. And out of the treetop, this owl came down and start swooping on my father and started hitting my father on the face with the wings. No matter how much my father tried to ward off the owl, that thing keep coming back clawing. Until my father had to call my mother, “Can’t you send this thing away?” My mother said, “No, let him take care of you until I get far enough from you.” So she left him there, and I don’t know what happened because the next day, they didn’t say much about it. But later, my mother start relating that thing and that’s when my grandmother, my mother’s mother, said, “That’s our ʻaumakua.” That’s how I know that my mother’s side they think the owl is a guardian angel, whatever you might call it, ʻaumakua. But my father’s side, I don’t know whether he had any ʻaumakua. But people used to go down the beach and they used to go just for the fun of it, they try and catch the shark, especially his immediate family. They catch the shark, everybody like have some fun with the shark. Then a strange thing happen to him, his skin start getting all like goose pimple, only they’re bigger than goose pimple. You might call it turkey nipple. Yeah, he gets all this thing on his body. And when the people come over they say, “Somebody been fooling around with shark.” And they admit, “Yeah.” They caught one shark and they just let ’em lie on the rocks. It goes away but I don’t know if that’s any connection with his ʻaumakua or what; he never even say that he had an ʻaumakua. But my mother, she told us about the owl.
VL: Did she tell you that you were supposed to treat owls in a certain way?
RK: Yeah, she used to tell us not to bother with them. Not to go around shooting or stoning these birds.
VL: Did she say something would happen if you did?
RK: No. She just told us not to do that.
VL: Changing the subject a little bit, you finished Kukuihaele School till eighth grade?
VL: And then what did you do after that?
RK: I went work for the plantation and I worked for two years in the plantation.
VL: How did you find that job?
RK: Well in those days, there were like, if your family were working in a plantation, the kids could get job in the plantation when they got through school. Of course, the pay wasn’t too bad, for those days. You could buy lot of things with the pay we had those days. Things were cheap. But I didn’t enjoy that, working on the plantation.
VL: What was your job?
RK: Pulling that hoe in the cane line.
VL: Hoe hana?
RK: Yeah. But I used to remember, before I even got out of school, I used to remember that big strike that they had. I forget what year that was.
RK: I think so. That year, gee, you get this strange feeling. Just like your friend is on the opposite side. It’s a weird feeling like you know these people when there was no strike around, you knew them and they were like friends. But when the strike came on, these immigrant workers was just like on one side and you, the local, was on the other side with the plantation, or something.
VL: How old were you then?
RK: I was around four that time, then. Those days, the law so strict too, they couldn’t go fishing. While they were on strike, they needed something to eat. They couldn’t go fishing because the law was that they were aliens, they couldn’t go.
VL: Aliens couldn’t fish?
RK: You could, but you have only certain hours of the day you had to be back, you had to get out of the fishing area.
YY: Why was that?
RK: I don’t know. That’s the way the law was set up, those days. That was to keep them, if they were on strike that was to crumble their attitude towards striking. You shut that means off, that fishing thing, you bring the striking date closer, and you end ’em sooner. So they had to stop all this fishing.
VL: What else do you remember about the strike?
RK: Even my uncles were Special Police, they were made Special Police. There were like sort of a patrol. This camp here, all these couldn’t go to the next camp. They were stopped from going camp to camp. And the guy had the; Manlapit I think was his name he could go but he had to make speech on the road and the people listen to him. But he couldn’t go in the camps.
VL: Is this the strike that was mostly Japanese or was it mostly Filipino?
RK: It was mostly Filipino. I think the ones that were mostly Japanese, I think, that was before the Filipinos. Because I don’t really know that time. I probably wasn’t born yet.
VL: The Filipino one was 1924. So you had friends that were the sons and daughters of workers?
RK: Yeah. And after the strike, plenty of them, like, they just took off from the plantation and went to Kona or wherever place they could live. So that’s why most of them left the plantation.
VL: Did some come down to Waipiʻo?
RK: Yeah, plenty.
VL: What did they do down here?
RK: Start working taro patch. Plenty of them were working down here. Taro.
VL: Their own taro?
RK: Yeah, they sort of stayed with Hawaiians and all that. The plantations after they strike there, some of them didn’t want to go back to the plantations. Some of them even got married to Hawaiian wahines down here.
VL: What made you decide to leave the plantation?
RK: Working hours, one thing. I get up early in the morning. I get hard time wake up in the morning. My sister have to come shake me up, I almost roll the other side of the bed, I wouldn’t even wake up. I got so that I just hate that word, “Get up” you know.
VL: Is that because you stayed up late the night before?
RK: Yeah, we go play, probably for some other reason. I was getting bored at home. I wanted something different. So, when I made 18 that’s the year they had the Depression. So 1931 or 1932, I think, the Depression was on. I went work for the federal funded program like Triple C Camp (CCC—Civilian Conservation Corps) in Waimea. So I worked over there for about a year and a half. Then I quit over there. Too regimented that type of life. You got to come back in camp certain hour and in the morning you have to stand in line for your sandwich and all that.
YY: Were you used to more freedom before that? Or did your mother regulate your hours, when you had to be home?
RK: No, I think my mother didn’t do much of that regulating. My father did.
VL: Then, when you were a teenager, your father had passed away, were you pretty much on your own?
RK: Yeah, sort of. When my mother told me things like that I just didn’t like it. I just said, “Well, I had to do ’em because I’m the only guy in the house. Supposed to be . . . .” So I went ahead and do ’em. Other than that I would just ignore the whole thing and take off but if she say it’s important, then I go ahead and do it. After all, I had that much respect for my mother, even if I was in my teens already.
VL: And so after triple C?
RK: After triple C, I came back, I work for this transportation, Tanimoto Transportation. I work for almost three years, I think. And as soon as the war (WWII) break out, that was my chance. I was figuring if they didn’t induct me, I would have volunteered. There wasn’t any war then but I just wanted to get away from here.
VL: You were inducted?
RK: Yeah. And after my basic, which was three months at Schofield, I came back to Hilo. That’s when the whole thing happened, Pearl Harbor and all and I spent four and a half years in the Army. And I came back here, than worked for the County for a while.
VL: What made you decide to come back to the Big Island?
RK: Like I tell my family, my sister was sort of taking care; my sister was the only one that . . . . John was young and John was sick. We adopted one of my brother’s kids which was like two in the family that my sister had to support. John, my brother and my nephew. And I came back and I figures, well, I might as well help all them. Which I had an option on my Army, if I went back before the three months was up, I could go for a 25-year hitch because I already had four-and-a-half year. But I didn’t go back so I stayed over here and start working. Well, I was working with the down here taro patches at the time. I came back, work over there. Then, after the 1946 tidal wave, I went work for the County.
VL: So when you first came back, you worked in a taro patch? Whose was that?
VL: What did you do for him?
RK: Open up taro field and he had garden down the beach so when we’re not busy with the taro, we work in the garden. He planted some really good cucumbers down there, on that sand, now. And cabbage, oh.
VL: In the sand?
RK: Yeah. Down the beach, then, when the tidal wave hit, that’s when it destroyed his taro field and his garden down there. So, I went back for the County.
VL: Wait, can you tell us about the tidal wave? Like what did the beach look like before the wave came?
RK: Before the wave came, there were like sand dunes. The beach was like not as close to land as it is now. It’s more extended.
RK: Yeah. Well, that morning, that was an April Fool’s morning, I was sitting on the porch, I was sitting with my uncle down the beach. When came that time, I heard that, just like rocks rolling, just like something drawing rocks back to go down to the ocean. I didn’t know what it was. And all of a sudden, I saw this thing coming through the river, just like the river was swelling up. Then, when the water went back, started draining the two side of the river, just left a little bit of water in the middles and that thing went back like the tubing, just like a funnel. So I told my uncle, “Eh, you see that?” He came outside and look, “Oh that thing happened before.” So I keep watching and when that wave start coming up again, start taking the chicken coop I got (tape garbled). So I told him, “Eh, the wave came up here before?” And then, “No.” Then he said, “We better get out of here.” In the meantime, we had one neighbor right below us. His house went, part of his kitchen went. And he was this Filipino. His leg was all swollen and so we had hard time to get him go with us.
VL: Who was that?
RK: His name was Billy Hido. And we had to bring him up to our place, get him on the horse and the strangest thing is we took the longest way out. From the river, we went all towards the Waimanu side of the valley. We got as far as the pond down there and then that’s about all I remember until we got into that pond.
YY: So, only three of you?
RK: No, there was my two nephews, my uncle, this Filipino guy. How many was that? Yeah, the thing is we rode on two horses. The smaller horse took two persons, the bigger horse took three, that was my two nephews and the Filipino. Me and my uncle was on the smaller horse.
VL: Did you take anything with you?
RK: Nothing except the clothes that we had on. And on the way coming over, you know where that pond is right now?
RK: Yeah. When we got there, we couldn’t go forward because the ocean was cutting through, cutting in front of us and cutting through the back of us, so we were on the sand hill. And we turn around, here was this big wave coming up again.
YY: How big was it?
RK: I don’t know how big but pretty sure probably was about 20 feet high I think, judging from where we sat on the horse. See, tidal wave is quite different from this other type wave. The bottom is thick and the thing just spill over. Whereas the other type of wave that coming in, it crashes. But this no, they just spill over. So our horses went in that pond, me, my uncle, and then my nephew. Everybody was all in that pond, swimming.
VL: You mean the wave hit you?
RK: Yeah. It took us up almost half an hour, back and forth in that pond. And finally we made it up.
YY: Did you get caught?
RK: Yeah. I got caught up in one like piece of broken up layers of reeds. I tried to avoid the log, the beach log that was coming in. So I got to one end of that thing and the wave just lifted it, almost like a mattress. The wave lifted one end of that and just went over me, just pinned me under.
YY: And what about the other people?
RK: They got on one of these reed things, you know, that were floating along. They were doing the same trip too, back and forth, back and forth, until they got . . . . When I came out of that, I just grab hold of one end, I just jump on the next one and then there was this big wave coming up, I just lifted one end of that like you know. And I went surfing all the way up. And I got up right below, you know those two gray houses way down there. Well, I came right in front of one of those houses, from down the pond. And my uncle, he got in on a side then he got on the road and walked up. But I rode all the way up there. And my boss, Araki, I think he was cooking that morning, getting ready for me to come up work, you know. Well, I don’t blame him because I was all covered with mud, he couldn’t see me. When he saw me, he said, “What happened?” I said, “Oh, big water come.” He figured the mountain. I said, “No, from the ocean.” “Yeah?” He didn’t even know. He said all he knew was this water hyacinth all piled up in front his house. He thought the mountain water was coming down. That’s why that thing all piled up. Yeah, afterwards he took us in and he said, “Go wash.” And he gives us these clothes which was like two sizes too big. But at least we were dry. We had wine to drink. Thinking that wine might take away what happened out there. But, gee, I guess when you shocked, bad shock, I don’t think one gallon wine can get that thing out of your mind . . . .
VL: When you were trapped, what was going through your mind?
RK: Especially when I was pinned, I had the feeling that this probably was going to be the end of me and the feeling I had then was that, you’d be surprised, I was calm, real calm under there. Now I’m going to try, me, I feel like got to try one more time, work my way out. And finally, I made it out. But you could see a million lifetimes pass before your eyes. Like Christmas sparklers. You see those beautiful lights when you under there, though; green, yellow, blue, purple, orange. Real nice lights. I couldn’t ask for more, even if I was supposed to go, the lights are more beautiful. That was the beautiful part of that thing. I became calm the last moment, just planning how, no panic, nothing. Then I came out of there. But I didn’t stay there for long. I came out, I just keep swimming to the next pad of the reeds, just keep going. And then when I saw this big wave, I just lift one end of that pad and that was all and just surf right up to the front of those houses.
VL: Those reeds were just loose?
RK: Yeah, they were all broken up. Real thick, almost like double that size of this mattress. They so thick and even animals walk on ’em, you know. Well, I get on one of those and I just lifted one end and surf all the way up.
VL: And the others that were with you?
RK: They got towards the roads and from there, they walked.
YY: The road on the Waimanu side?
VL: After the tidal wave you were working for the County?
RK: Yeah, I worked for the County. And then after I spent some time with the County, that was about probably two years with the County. Then I came back and I go back to taro patch. The County was sort of regimented too. See, that’s how much I want my freedom. I don’t care. But with taro, it’s different. I regiment my own time. I want to go to the taro patch today, I go. If I don’t want to go, I don’t go. Like this morning, I didn’t want to come but I had appointment with you two. (laughs) But that’s the way I felt. Raising taro is one way of expressing my freedom. Whereas if I work for companies, organizations, something like that, your time is theirs, not yours. So I’m not selling anybody my time.
VL: So when did you start your own taro?
RK: I started working for (Nelson) Chun on that 60/40 basis. Then I started working for Mock Chew and all these different people; (Seiko) Kaneshiro, (Ginji) Araki.
VL: All sharecrop?
RK: Yeah. I don’t think I ever did have a place of my own to raise taro.
VL: How does sharecropping work?
RK: The person who owns the land sort of opens the place for you. All you had to do was to get your seed together and start working on a patch.
VL: They make the patch already?
RK: Yeah, they make ’em ready so you plant. And after you plant, you start the sharecropping already, 60 percent or maybe some will have like 70 percent. But here, with Ted’s (Kaakuahiki) brother-in-law Albert Kalani, I have this deal, I open the place, the first crop is all mine, for expenses and all that. And this second planting, now is the second planting, then we going 70/30 basis. Which, I feel is more than compensate for my time and all that. In fact, I tried talk to him, I said instead of me taking all of that the first crop, I said why not 10 percent for you now and the second crop we go like 20. You get 20 because you get your 10 in the first crop. He said, “Naw, you work ’em and the first one is all yours.” So I figure that’s pretty good deal.
VL: Before time when you sharecrop, do they loan you any money to start with?
RK: No, all they do is open up the land.
VL: How about equipment?
RK: Equipment? No, you buy your own. Like sickle.
VL: All expenses are your own?
RK: Yeah. That’s all they do, they open the land and if they good enough, like you need seed, they good enough to give you seed from their plot, then you that much ahead.
VL: So where was your first batch of huli from?
RK: All depends with who I was. When I was with Chun, I had huli from him. And when I work for Mock Chew, I had huli form them also. In fact, all these people that I work with, I had the huli from them. Then, right here, like Joe Kala is taking care of the same person’s place, right up here.
YY: Whose is it?
RK: Joe, he’s taking care for Ted’s brother-in-law, too. And I get my huli from Joe and that way, so far, I’ve been getting huli from all the ones that I work with. It wasn’t much humbug with huli.
VL: Earlier, when you first started, who did you sell your taro to?
RK: The people that I work with, they had their own market, so my share of the crop go to their market.
VL: They set the price?
RK: The price was sort of different from market to market. I sort of wanted to play around with two markets; in case I get stuck with one. I still have one outlet. But it didn’t work out like that for me. I hope it went on longer but I didn’t last long playing two markets.
VL: Why is that?
RK: I think it’s because . . . . See, I figured this, with the more that person has taro he won’t change. He won’t care whether he is paying me because he’s got the taro. But as long as I quit from that guy and that guy runs short of taro, then he’s going to try and push his price up. Because all the other markets they have their price up and once a person starts a die-hard on the price, what he have to do is just stop planting. There’s no union so you can’t.
VL: I don’t quite understand how you played two.
RK: Here’s the thing. One market is different in price. You figure this out. One bag of taro, which is 100 pound bag, would be like one market we pay $16, the other market pays $15. That person probably dosen’t want to raise his price up because he has lot of taro. You growing taro for him too. Okay, what you do is slow down or don’t plant for the one that giving you the cheap price. Eventually he’ll come up with that price because he’s kind of slow on taro now because you slowing down. Then, he comes up with his price and probably take him awhile before he can come up with 50 cents. So anyway, you have no organization, there’s no set price, nothing. But this market give you $16, this one gives you $15, and if you working for either one of them, you would rather go on the other side because the price sounds better.
VL: But if you don’t plant, don’t you lose too?
RK: No. Not that much. You slow down one side and by doing that you sort of slow down his market too.
VL: But if you’re sharecropping with the person that you’re also selling to, is there any problem there if you try to slow down?
RK: Yeah, it kind of ’cause, there’s going to be sort of a delay in between. He can’t come out to the amount of poi that he’s supposed to put out. He collects less. Every time you slow down your taro, he collects less, he gets less income.
VL: He loses two ways.
RK: Yeah. And the transportation of the poi is that same distance, no change. But his time, with less, he has to go through the same distance so you have one of the ways where you can sort of slow down.
VL: Would he, if he sees that you slowed down, might he not . . . . You sharecropping with him too, wouldn’t he say, “You sharecropping with me, I want you to plant that?”
RK: No. There’s no such thing as, “I want you to.” I plant just like doing it on my own. He doesn’t tell me when to plant, how to plant.
VL: Can he take away that land any time?
RK: Oh yeah, he can if he wishes. But there’s always a chance of you finding another one, another person to start again.
VL: Have the farmers ever tried to make like a union?
RK: No. I don’t think anything such as organization can survive down here.
RK: Too many independent minded farmers. Not too many farmers, but whatever farmers that we have down here, they’re too independent.
VL: What do you mean they’re too independent?
RK: They don’t want to get into this hui. I mean, you take this certain farmer, he makes so much from his place. You’d be surprised how much these big farmers get for one year, they make about $32,000 a year, $36,000 a year. You think those big guys would like to come in with me and sort of form a hui? No.
VL: But wouldn’t it be a benefit to them too?
RK: I don’t think. I think they figure you just leeching on their good luck. That’s the thing that I get when you try to get the . . . . Cause they only stay one week and the rest of the time you don’t see ’em around. That’s why how many times we tried to form a co-op down here. It’s always the big guys that push out first. So, you can see how independent they are. They don’t give a damn because they making ’em, you know. But you small guy, you just want your fair share on that, to make a living. But the big guy doesn’t see that. He can contend with this taro business because of the volume he has. Small guy doesn’t have that much. So, I’d rather be independent because the way I figure, the small guys are just almost like leeches. Because there’s a very slim chance of getting into a co-op or any sort of organization for the benefit of the taro farmers down here.
VL: How about if all the small farmers got together?
RK: The small farmers are usually more sharecroppers. That’s what we mean by small farmers. I mean, if you had your own land, you’d be considered one of the big guys because you don’t go work on a percentage, you work on you own. But, for instance, I had one acre right here now. And out of that one acre, I can harvest 400 bags. Sharecropping, say 70 percent, that’s 280 bags from 400 bags is yours. The rest is for the land owner; 280 bags from an acre, where you would be making 400 bags of your own.
VL: When you sharecrop and you get 400 bags, are you responsible for marketing the 400?
RK: No, the person you raising taro for get market. They into this marketing so you just send your taro there.
VL: All 400?
RK: Uh huh.
VL: And then how do you get your money?
RK: Each sharecropper, that’s how you get your money, on percentage. The market makes out your check, your money. Included in that sharecropping is your time harvesting. You harvesting your 30 percent that the other guy has so you charge him according to what they pay down here for harvesting one bag.
VL: So you get 280 and the other 120, you’re paid for harvesting. And how much is that?
RK: Well, you get $400 at $1,600 like that.
VL: For harvesting, you get paid by the bag? How much?
RK: Yeah, $1.50 for pulling. Backbreaking, you know, pulling; that’s not easy, not mechanized.
VL: If you wanted that $1.50 to come up, what could you do?
RK: No, that’s the time to, as far as harvesting, you cannot put any price on that thing. But before you harvest it, then you start talking about you going to raise your pulling, harvesting price. Before you harvest, you start talking to that person. But while you harvesting, that price stays. If you go from $1.50, it stays until the crop is pau. But when the new crop come on and ready for harvest then before you harvest, you talk to the guy. “I want $1.75, I want quarter more. Otherwise you go find somebody else go pull for you, pull your share.” Like say, “Okay, we going pull 20 bags, well, I get 14 and you get the other six bags. Well, for your six bags, you go find somebody else to pull, I don’t want to pull ’em for $1.50.” But not while you pulling. I don’t think it’s quite right to do that when you pulling. After everything is over, then it’s almost a new agreement, a new contract. “If I harvest this patch again, how about you raise the pulling?” or “I going to raise the pulling to another quarter, on top that. If it’s agreeable to you, then I’ll help with your taro. If not, you find somebody else.” That way you be more of a gentleman in the guy’s eyes than a rip-off thing.
VL: So now you have one acre?
RK: Yeah, about that.
VL: Did your parents ever have land in Waipiʻo? That they owned?
VL: Where did they get it from?
RK: I don’t really know where they got it from. But my grandfather on my father’s side owned a piece of land. You know where that gray house is in there, going down the beach (on Waimanu side of valley)?
YY: The one furthest down?
RK: Yeah. Well, my grandfather used to own that part and some taro fields right below ʻOlepau. Well, he had a friend and this friend needed a place to stay so my grandfather gave ’em the place to stay. So now, he went about asking the plantation to build a house; he mortgaged the place. He mortgaged the place with the plantation. Like, he would pay the mortgage until they finish with the mortgage, then he would own the house.
VL: This is the friend?
RK: Yeah. After he builds the house, he didn’t even care to go to work. All he cares was to live in the house. And he didn’t pay the mortgage so the plantation foreclosed the mortgage. It’s pretty big area there, the taro field. So when my uncles start going back and check on that thing, this guy had mortgaged the place so that he could have that house built on that place. So, I remember, we lost that place because through this so the plantation took the place. And sold it to Butcher and Butcher now sell it to somebody, sort of a speculation thing.
VL: Did your mother have any other land?
RK: No, no. My grandmother had Waimanu.
YY: What happened to those lands?
RK: My aunt is still paying for it. And I guess this land in Waimanu are going to be like an estuary like. Even my uncle’s land, that’s Joe’s father. I still got mine over there too. I guess the rest of the people there who have land over there all going be . . . I understand the State was going to buy those places at $500 an acre. And they tried to compromise now. There people want $2,000 and acre, because they were offered $2,000 by some outside interests. So they compromised with the State, they say that it would be willing to accept $1,000 an acre if the State wants the land that bad. But I don’t know what the State trump cards up their sleeve. Either condemn or just buy that $500 an acre or they could go through condemnation or some other names, I don’t know what they’re going to do.
VL: So your mother, after that incident with the mortgage . . .
RK: No, that was the only one they had.
VL: Then, have you ever wanted to purchase land in Waipiʻo?
RK: No. Funny thing is I don’t care for it. That’s my feeling. I don’t care for land.