Waipi‘o: Māno Wai, An Oral History Collection by The University of Hawai‘i Ethnic Studies Program
Albert Kalani, Hawaiian, was born in Kona on October 14, 1908, one of four brothers. He attended Kalaoa Elementary, Konawaena Intermediate and Konawaena High School. He is fluent in the Hawaiian language. Before moving to Waipi‘o in about 1930, he was a cowboy at Huehue Ranch, a construction worker in Puna and on Maui, and a fisherman back in Kona. In Waipi‘o he worked in the Aioka and Ahana poi factories, and also raised his own taro until about 1960. In 1933, he married Mabel Kaaekuahiwi. They had two children and adopted two more. Mrs. Kalani passed away in 1976. Albert was also employed by the Depression relief agencies and the Parks and Recreation Department (1938 to 1970). In 1952 he moved out of the valley to Kukuihaele, and in 1963 he moved to his present residence in Honoka‘a.
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. Albert Kalani’s interview is included in Volume 2 of this published project.
VL: This is an interview with Mr. Albert Kalani. Today is April 10, 1978. We’re at his home in Honoka‘a.
Could you tell us just a little bit about being a cowboy in Kona? Like what did you do as a cowboy?
AK: When I was working cowboy in Kona (at Huehue and Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Ranch), that’s a regular cowboy. Round up cattle and then do what’s called fence working. You know, repair fence line. And all those things. And then summer time we go up to Hualalai for round up sheep and bring it down to the ranch to shear all the wool.
VL: How did that compare with plantation wages?
AK: I guess, but plantations, they get a better wages than we ranch at the time before. So, you had to take it, when they give, the pay of that.
VL: On the ranch, do they give you housing?
AK: Yeah, they give housing. But those don’t have house, they give housing. But like us, we have our own home, eh. We get free and hunting always free. All employees.
VL: Free, you mean on ranch land?
AK: The ranch land, yeah.
VL: And how did you meet the Ah Puck boys [Ah Puck family from Waipi‘o Valley]?
AK: I met Ah Puck boys at the Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Ranch, the stone wall all fell down from the earthquake. They had terrible earthquake couple years back. I think that must been all around the island. Crack the road, you know, the highways on that. So, Hind wants to repair the stone walls; never had wire fence those days. He had all stone walls. So, he hired lot of people, had all young boys and some old people. That’s how I met the Ah Pucks. They came there and work, we all worked together, stay boarding house together and we get acquainted with each other. And every Saturday, when they come back here [Waipi‘o] then that’s how I come down with them. We both keeping on that way for quite a number of years.
VL: When you came on Saturdays, what would you folks do here?
AK: I help them in their taro patch, they had taro patch. The father was keeping taro patches. I help them working in the taro patch. They showed me how.
VL: What did you think of Waipi‘o that first time you saw it?
AK: Well, the first time I saw Waipi‘o, I think nice place to live, you know. Good place. And then you have to do work in order to know what is the life in Waipi‘o. You just only stay, you don’t know, eh? You got to learn how to get by. As for myself I know I get by because I always associate with people. I mingle around with anybody, you know. Ask them questions and tell me this and that. That’s how I learn lot, you know. Especially like Sundays, like that, we get along some old people, you know. They come by and we talk Hawaiian and I like talk Hawaiian to them, see. I approach them in Hawaiian. We all sit down and talk Hawaiian.
VL: So as a stranger to the valley, how did they treat you?
AK: They accept me, they said, because I’m very good in anythings and kind and approach them in a nice way and talk to them. They really like it. They enjoy the way that I do with them. Because young boys down there, those days, they don’t get by with the old people. When they all get together among ourself, young guys. These old people, they like somebody to talk to. And for myself, I proud that I know plenty of . . . that’s how I came to know about Waipi‘o, lot of Waipi‘o. I ask questions. I hear so much about it and I try ask it, whether they going tell the truth, then I ask the next person. Then everything come out right, what they tell me. That’s how I get by with the old people.
VL: Can you tell us again why you decided to leave Kona?
AK: Kona never had any, no more work; especially, after I left the ranch I like to get job, no more job.
VL: How come you left the ranch?
AK: I like go out. I know my father doesn’t want me to leave the ranch but I made up my mind, if I going to stay work on the ranch all my life time, I got to go out and seek something. Maybe I can get something. Well, I think I enjoyed too, when I left the ranch and I go out and seek myself. I struggled and all that, see. Then I learn how.
VL: Where did you go see after you left the ranch?
AK: Well, after I left the ranch, that’s when I went to Puna, work on the construction job. Did hard job but all right. I stand it, enjoy it.
VL: And then how did you end up living in Kukuihaele?
AK: When I went to Puna, after Puna, the job finished there, then I went to Maui for the same job. Kahului Breakwater. I stayed in Maui for about eight months till I came back. I came back to Kona again. I came back to Kona, then went down, went fishing. Try to learn about fishing with old people. Then, two old people, and I stayed with them. They teach me the in and out of fishing. Go ‘ōpelu fishing and all that. I learned all those things. Then I come here again, you know, I meet friends, friends ask me for go and this and that's how I come. From then, that’s how I met the Ah Pucks, then that’s how I reach to Waipi‘o.
VL: You lived Kukuihaele first, right, before you moved into Waipi‘o?
AK: No, no. I went to live Waipi‘o first. With the Ah Pucks down in Waipi‘o.
VL: Can you describe the house that you lived in there?
AK: They had the old house that time. Good enough for people for us to stay. Later on, they build a house again.
VL: Where would you sleep?
AK: Well, we sleep like this, we sleep in the parlor. They have big family they use all the bedrooms so we young boys, we sleep in the parlor. Just to get by for the night.
VL: You have some kinds of bedding?
AK: Yeah, right on the mat there.
VL: What kind mat?
AK: Lauhala mat.
VL: Did you have to pay the Ah Pucks for staying there?
AK: I wanted to pay but they don’t want me to pay. But, whenever I work and I get something, I give them to buy some food. You know, stuff, whatever they like to buy.
VL: When you first moved to Waipi‘o, how was it different from Kona?
AK: It was more different than Kona. Like in Waipi‘o, I find out in Waipi‘o, you get to get things easier than in our way in Kona. In our way in Kona is very hard, you know. But as for myself it wasn’t bad because I was working out. We staying in the ranch, we always have everything. But like the life of others in Kona is very really hard.
VL: Why is that?
AK: Hard no more work. Like no more money to buy anything so they had to weave hat. I almost start weaving hat, you know. When we were going school, a friend of mines smokes, wanted to go school, and he has no money, he asked me for money so I lend him some money. And then one time he didn’t tell me that he was learning how. The sister showed him how to weave hat. So one night I went over the house without him knowing, I caught him weaving hat. So I asked him, “What you doing this for?”
“You know I get no money, I like buy cigarette. I sell one hat, I can get cigarette.” So he asked me better I might as well learn. I said, “Yeah, too hard this job.” So, I didn’t try it. I never learn how make hat.
VL: What else was different about Waipi‘o from Kona?
AK: See, Waipi‘o get a lot of water, you know. But in Kona, you cannot waste all the water you have. Somebody have the tank and small, not enough water, you had to take care of the way of using the water. In Waipi‘o, you always get lot of water, you go, you can just use the water all you want.
VL: Never any shortages?
AK: No, no. Waipi‘o never even saw this till today. Waipi‘o is very, very good place to live. They have everything. And, of course, the first beginning I came Waipi‘o, I didn’t know about anything of Waipi‘o. You know, the food, the kind of eating all these things that get me there for awhile.
VL: Like what kind of things?
AK: Shrimps, that gori, ʻo‘opu and all those things. Of course, that’s good, they fry but sometime the family wants to eat those things raw, eh? And I cannot. I taste but, not bad. After I try, all right, it was good. Because Waipi‘o, you have the warabi there, you know that warabi. They had lot of wild watercress. Oh, never let get anything starve there, you get. You want to go down the beach, the beaches are near. Always there. I always tell everybody, “Waipi‘o is the best place to live.”
VL: What else did it have besides warabi and watercress?
AK: If you don’t have any taro patch, you like taro, you can go to his taro patch and bring some taro. You ask a friend, they give you. They just give you.
AK: Free, yeah. You help them, they give you.
VL: How about fruits?
AK: Well, we have lot of mountain apples, mangoes, oranges. They have all those things in Waipi‘o and you can help yourself.
VL: Do you know of anybody that went hungry?
AK: I don’t think so. In Waipi‘o, I don’t think that anybody went hungry. I think if he went hungry, he just too lazy to move around and do it, I think. But if he move around, I think he’d be way ahead.
VL: In Kona, did some people go hungry?
AK: Oh yeah. Lot of families go hungry. They really have the problem at Kona.
YY: You talked about the water and Waipi‘o having lots of water. Can you say more about that, the importance of the water? In Waipi‘o.
AK: Waipi‘o has lot of water and you can use whatever you want. And then, you can go swimming, all that. Plenty places to go and nobody going stop you from using water. You can go any place use the water.
VL: There were no restrictions?
AK: Before, not like now, they stop you from drinking water right in the creek there. Before that there were a few, nothing, doesn’t affect anybody. Really. We go out and you thirsty, you just drink the water from there. Even down by the beach, you know the stream there. If you thirsty, you drink that water, but not today. Today is different, altogether. I don’t know how come but like today, today they say, “You better not drink down there, you might get some kind of disease or sickness.” Lot of people had some sick, they blame Waipi‘o water. But we were down there, we were drinking all that water even the spring water. Down here, you stay here, drink water here, a graveyard over there, something going be wrong with that water comes down to there. But we drink all that. But not today, today the Board of Health tell us not pure, not for drink. And today, the people, that born and raised in Waipi‘o, they don’t want to drink that water. They go down Waipi‘o, they take fresh water, you know, they take your own water today. Before, nobody take that water. Use for cooking, for anything.
VL: Could anybody go in any of the streams at any time? No restrictions on them?
AK: Yeah. No restrictions at all, you can any time you want, you can do anything you want. And they never had restrictions.
VL: When you were living at the Ah Pucks’ and your job was what?
AK: You know, help taro farm, like that. Most, they were only working the taro patch. Then, after I got the job in Waipi‘o, I left them. I been working in the poi shop, like that.
VL: That was with Akioka?
AK: Yeah, that was Akioka.
VL: Can you describe him what he looked like?
AK: He’s Chinese, Chinese man. Nice man. Altogether, we about 10 or 12 of us employees. Chinese, most Chinese, and about three of us Hawaiian boys and a Filipino.
VL: And what did you 10 or 12 boys do?
AK: Like us, we go, just like Monday, we go to taro patch, pull taro and bring it back to the poi shop. No, Monday, we go to the poi shop; Tuesday, we deliver the poi to Waimea. Wednesday, we go back pull taro; Thursday, we take ’em poi shop and then Friday, we go back to Waimea again. When we were delivering poi, Friday we split; one come to Honoka‘a, two go to Waimea. And Tuesday, we all go together to Waimea.
VL: Starting with Monday, you pulled on Monday?
AK: No, Monday, we cook the taro.
VL: Can you explain about how you did that?
AK: Yeah, we do like how Seiko [Kaneshiro] is putting in the steamer. Put ’em all and then you burn firewood. Not with steam like Seiko has, now. You there with firewood.
VL: Did you have to get the firewood?
AK: Akioka had somebody to cut firewood. He buy it from somebody, the wood. But we the one that go and pack the wood; come back, stack up by the poi shop.
VL: So would all 12 of you be steaming the taro?
AK: Yeah. No, oh one does the cooking in the evening. The next day, then we come down. Or might be five of us. Then the rest go to the taro patch.
VL: And what?
AK: Clean the patches.
VL: How would you decide which ones went to the poi shop? Which ones went to the taro patch?
AK: Most likely, we the younget ones comes out to the poi shop so we can work a little faster and all that. The older Chinese go into the taro patches, they mend the taro patches. But the day of pulling all pull together.
VL: So after it was steamed, what did you five boys do?
AK: After steamed, we bring the taro out, we wash in the tub, wash with the water. And then after that, we peel the taro. After you peel the taro, then you grind, put in the machine, grind. Then, after that, the poi come out; those days, we have flour sack bag, we put [the poi] in there. Twenty-two pound, or 20 pound. Those days, the poi was cheap you know. And then we have a ti leaf, we set the ti leaf this way. You know the ti leaf, bigger ones, one leaf each, one, maybe wrap ’em up, then you tie that up for keep it fresh. Then your 50 cents, you do the same thing but you wrap something like you wrap package. That’s what we do.
VL: You had two sizes?
AK: Two style to wrapping the poi. The one who goes out to get the ti leaves, that’s his job. Only his job for go out gather ti leaves.
VL: Did you ever do that?
AK: No, I didn’t go for the ti leaf. Our job was to pull taro, do the job in the poi shop and then cut the grass for the animals.
VL: In the poi shop, were there women working?
AK: Yeah, women. Some even some out help peel. They are faster than what us men can do, those days.
YY: What did you peel with?
AK: Coconut shell.
VL: Did you make your own?
AK: Yeah, you know the dry coconut, you split and then you shape ’em good and then you make like the spoon.
VL: Do you know how much taro would get steamed, each Monday?
AK: Those days, we steam about 40 bags.
VL: Hundred pound bags?
AK: Yeah, 100 pound bags. Lot of poi in those days. But those days, when I was working with Akioka, to me, every people, they didn’t have these brown sack bags, right now they have it put in the taro. Those days, they had bags but we never put the taro in the bags. When we pull the taro, we pull everything, with the stalk, then we bundle everything, then we ties it . . .
VL: With what?
AK: With that lauhala, pandanus, you know the roots? We strip those things to make a rope.
VL: You had to do that too?
AK: Yeah, we all do that. You know these long stalk from the pandanus tree? That, we strip and dried. That really good tight thing to tie.
VL: Did you twine it or something?
AK: No, no. We just strip with it and leave it to dry. That’s what we use to tie. And then two bundle each, then we have a stick. Kind of flat stick, you know those Japanese or Chinese used to carry two bundles. We put one in the other side, then you carry out from the patch.
VL: And where would they carry it to?
AK: Carry out from the patch. You know, here is the patch, you carry out from the patch, then we pack it on the mule, the same thing like that, we pack it on the mule. Then we lead all the mules to the poi shop. The animals, they know where they going. We just let them go, they come straight to the poi shop. Whatever we do, like us, we young, we always run away from the older guys. They stay way back because whatever taro fall down, they put in the bag and then they carry. Like us, we go out more fast, eh? That’s the way we were working before. Today is much easier, eh? You put in the sack.
VL: How many mules?
AK: Oh, he get about 16, 20. Lot of mules, he has lot of animals.
VL: How would they get new huli then?
AK: When we pull. If we pull now, might be they not going plant this patch right now, eh? So we pull the other patch. After we pull, then we clean this, that’s when we make the huli for plant.
VL: So the ones that you have all the taro with the stalk, you didn’t make huli from that?
AK: No, because when you pulling, if the day that we have to make the huli, we pull, the huli one different. We get the huli one here and the rest is all different.
VL: Then the ones that you made huli from, how would you take that taro to the poi shop? Since you already made huli, no more stalk to carry.
AK: We put in big baskets. That way, you got to be really careful because they don’t put it in the sack then, they are really careful how they do it. The Chinese are very clever in doing it. So they teach is how to use it. That’s why, when we put on the mule, we got to know how to put the rope over that, on the pack saddle. Then later on, then we started putting the bags.
VL: How would you pack it on without the bag?
AK: Well, it’s simple. Really. That time, I think to myself, “How some they do that? They have the bag, why don’t they put in the bag?” But they said, “No, it’s lot of more waste more time.” To me, it’s just about the same but when we reach there, we got to broke the taro show them to put in the bag and more easier. Easier to handle and easier to work. Then, from that time on, we put in the bag. Then, we cook the whole bag and all in the steamer. Because the other way you broke all the taro in there, for bring ’em out, a little hot, it slow eh? Then in the bag, it’s easier you put in there. You just grab the bag and dump it in.
VL: And what kind of job did you do at that time?
AK: Work in the patch, help my father-in-law in the patches. The taro patches, all my father-in-law’s see. So, I used to help him. And no pay, just help. If he love enough to give the daughter some money, well. But most of the time, I was just helping. And then get part-time Ahana, like that, get the part-time job. Then, after that, then that’s when I started get me FERA [Federal Emergency Relief Administration] with UPW. Work three days, then I went four days, like that. Right after that, I think my father-in-law felt sorry for himself for the way he treated me that when I went stay with them, I was doing almost everything. That maybe he didn’t want with me to be a husband for the daughter but, I think he saw what I did. Helping my wife all around the house, and all everything. Because when I married my wife, where Peter [Kaaekuahiwi] is now [in Waipi‘o] and all over there, all not like now, all but bushes. I the one that take care all that. I cleaned everything there with my wife. We worked hard for take care the place.
VL: Did you folks have a garden?
AK: We had a garden. We have flowers; all anthuriums, we buy ti leaves, plant ti leaves, you know these colored ti leaves. Roses, all. We beautified the place. But the water, we had flood. The water went right under the house there, went almost to the ceiling (of the basement). Half of the basement was all full with gravel.
VL: When was that?
AK: About somewheres in the 1940s.
VL: The same flood that damaged the poi shop ?
AK: Yeah. The store was right below this side, right above Peter’s there. The store wash out. Then, I built that cement wall over there. I did all that work myself and my in-laws.
VL: Did you have vegetables in you garden?
AK: We had vegetables, we plant vegetables in the yard.
VL: What kind?
AK: Oh, that Chinese cabbage and all those. Lettuce, spinach, beans, and all those kind vegetables. Nice garden, nice garden. I raised chickens, I raised pigs.
YY: What were your folks using for water at the time?
AK: That time we were using spring water. Right in the back there get the spring. Did Peter show you? Right in the back, that’s the spring water; we used that as a water, and we bathe there same time. Of course, that spring is big and the spring near. Then we dip up a place, a big place to wash. You bathe in there. After we build that house now, then we make where we build up a shower and all that inside, and a outside shower and all that.
VL: What about your other food, where would that be from?
AK: Well, we come to Kukuihaele for all these other kind of foods. You come out, most time the main important things is your salt, your sugar, maybe you need rice, all those things, eh? That’s the most important thing you need in Waipi‘o. And the rest, you don’t have to. If you want some canned stuff, you buy canned stuff. But we do buy canned stuff. We come up Kukuihaele for those things. Or Honoka‘a here. We come, we changed vegetables for foods, because I had nice vegetables, those days. We bring ’em to Honoka‘a—cucumber, all that.
VL: You would bring from your garden? And what, sell it?
AK: Yeah, to the store, yeah. Because the store owner, Awong. Alfred Awong, sometimes he come down, he see. He tell, “You bring this up to my store [at Honoka‘a].” So I bring up to the store.
VL: And would you just exchange for something else?
AK: Yeah. Well, I give whatever vegetables I get and I take whatever things I want. Well, with the balance we get some money back.
VL: What about in your free time, what would you do?
AK: Go out fishing. Go down fishing, me and my wife used to go fishing. We always go out fishing.
VL: What kind of fishing?
AK: Down the beach, poling, throw net and all that. I learned how to throw net, I mend my own net and all those things. Those days I can mend my own net, learned how to.
VL: You learned that in Kona?
AK: No, I learned that in Waipi‘o. I never use that in Kona, but I use most poles of hand lines on the canoe, or something. But throwing net, I never did learn in Kona. I learned that over here.
VL: How did you do it?
AK: I asked somebody to lend me the net and they show me how to use it and throw it, and I practice. And I asked my wife’s grandfather how to mend the net; he shows me. Because every Sunday, he comes down with us, talk story like that. And then, after lunch, he goes back. Every time he comes down I always be with him, talking Hawaiian with him. He’s very fond of me, my wife’s grandfather.
VL: When you’re pole fishing, what kind of bait did you use?
AK: We use that Waipi‘o shrimps or crab or tako, whatever. Oh gori, sometime we use.
VL: Did you go fishing at night?
AK: Yeah. I used to go fishing at night. Bamboo and throw net too, in the night.
VL: The fish that you caught, did you ever have extra?
AK: Oh, we always have extra.
VL: And what would you do with that?
AK: Whatever friends come by, we give.
VL: Just give?
AK: Yeah, just give. Waipi‘o, all the people in Waipi‘o, if I go fishing you come by, I have the fish there, you can help your self to the fish. You go home, with fish. Everyone in Waipi‘o same, you know. Because they don’t want to sell. You tell ’em you give the money, he tell, “No, no, no, no, you take the fish.” Even when we used to go out in the canoe, when they come back, you reach there, you just hold the canoe come back, you get lot of fish. He doesn’t buy the fish. We had one old Japanese man, he collects the fish because he had to make little money for himself, eh? So he gets the fish from the fishermen, then he come up peddle around the village.
VL: Who was that?
AK: Nakanishi, I think was his name. Japanese man, old man. Come up sell the fish.
VL: Would you buy it?
AK: Yeah, people buy it. But he’s old so. We buy too. Sometime I don’t go down fishing, maybe that day I don’t go. He come sell his certain fish, I buy, my father-in-law buy.
VL: How much did it cost?
AK: Very cheap. Sometimes one long string is only $1. Get about 15 fish inside, for $1. Everything was cheap.
VL: Did anybody else peddle any other kind of food?
AK: No, no. Food, you mean? No.
VL: How about anything else, any other peddlers?
AK: I guess everybody had everything, but they don’t peddle around.
VL: Like firewood.
AK: No. Firewood is free to anybody. You cut your own firewook. You go any place cut firewood.
VL: What else did you do in you free time?
AK: Then, sometimes I broking horse. Somebody has horses to train, I train ’em for them. That was my line of work before so I know how. I train it for them.
VL: Tell us about you horses, that you had in Waipi‘o. How many?
AK: I had about dozen, I think. I train all the horses.
VL: Where did you get them from?
AK: Well, an old man gave me. See, this man, he belonged to Laupahoehoe; he was living Laupahoehoe, Waipi‘o, he said that when I was a little boy, he used to keep me. But I don’t remember. Then, one time, I get a chance, I went back and I asked my father if that was true. He said, “yeah, that was true.” I asked who was the name of the man. He said, “Yeah, when you was a little boy he take care of you.” And another lady the same thing as that. She tell me when I was a little boy she was taking care of me. I not going believe that, but I ask father, and he say it’s true.
VL: So he gave you the horses?
AK: Yeah, he gave me the horses. He gave me horses, he gave me cow. He gave me one cow. All from that, I multiply all that those things.
VL: After you train the horses, what did you do with them?
AK: For our own use. You like ride the horse, get horses to ride around. Whatever.
VL: Were they ever used for work?
AK: Yeah, they work around. You like go Waimanu, you get horse. Something like that. You have to get horse to go Waimanu. Majority, I had my animals only for home use. Come up to Kukuihaele, go back for pack all the freight, whatever you have, eh. You cannot beat animal.
VL: And you race the horses too?
AK: Yeah, you just let it free in Waipi‘o.
VL: No, racing?
AK: Yeah, yeah, we have the sports, we race around. Down the beach or in the school park. We do that when we have the fourth of July celebrations or something like that. We had all kind sports.
VL: Were there prizes?
AK: Yeah. We, in the club, we making a Fourth of July program. Before we go, we go out to everybody for donation. One dollar, or whatever. Because, those days, when we go out for this, all the old people, they really wanted to donate. They give a lot, you know. And then, after we make the celebration of the day, then we have a luau after that. We kalua the pig and all that. All the family have all to eat and then go home with. So we go out, the clubs, after we hold the meeting. We have whatever money we keep, for our dues. Well, maybe we figure going spend about $400 or $300 for gifts. We go to Hilo to buy gifts. Like, those days, Kress got a lot of cheap stuff, eh. And any kind you buy. We go out buy. See, we hold the meeting, then we elect certain officers to go out to Hilo and make the purchases. Then we ask all around, all the people, the donate. They’re willing to give anything. But we don’t ask them more than what we need. We get all that. Then, when the day come, no matter, you cannot run or just walk, you have something. Everybody get something. When we did that, all the old people turn out, you know. Come out from where they stay. Most, you cannot see where they stay; they all come out. Sundays, we get games, they all come, they enjoy.
YY: What kind of games did you have?
AK: Baseball or volleyball, softball, whatever game. They all enjoy that. When we had that, they used to tell me, the older ones used to tell me, before have sports, they used to go play cards. They challenge, you know each section, he playing cards. And after that, they make party. Or, they go swim. Jump—you know they get high place, they jump in the water and challenge each other.
VL: In Waipi‘o?
AK: In Waipi‘o, yeah.
VL: What part would they jump?
AK: You know where Robert Kahele was working the taro went on my taro patch? Well before in that corner where that big monkeypod tree, that section was very deep before. Up there, and very deep. Well, that’s where they challenge. Otherwise, they have to go the other side. Way over that waterfall. That section challenge this section, or the upper section challenge. They jump more like high dive, you know. Them guys, they told me all that. And then dancing. They get that old Hawaiian dancing. Not this other kind dancing, they get old Hawaiian dancing.
YY: Ancient hula?
AK: Yeah, ancient hula. They have that, you know.
VL: This was before you got there [Waipi‘o]?
AK: It was before I got there. When I got there, they didn’t do that any more. I learned little bit of the Hawaiian dance when I was in Kona. I did go in the class, we went up dance.
VL: What other things did they tell you they did before time?
AK: Before time, that’s the most things they told me about. That playing cards, swimming, high dive. Not they never have any others, but that the most sports they have. And the only other way they said, like you have a taro patch to clean [weed], then you have to prepare, make a food. You have to make, whatever you think you can prepare. Then, they call those to go over there and clean all the patches. They clean the whole thing one day. After that, they eat.
VL: Now who comes to that?
AK: The one want to go help. They call that limalau, to get together and work. They had, those days, that one. But, like today, with this younger generation, you tell them, “Oi, come help me clean my side.” They no like you come help clean. Well, those days they told me that they always have barrel of sour potato. They ferment the potato, that’s what they drink. They say, they have one barrel of potato or they buy a salt salmon. All the family, they come help, everyone in the family going work and eat. But the older guys drink potato but the other family eat. They help them clean the place, that’s what they do. But I didn’t see when I was down there, but they told me that’s what they used to do before.
VL: Do you know how much before that was?
AK: I think, about one or two year before I came to Wapi‘o. I almost got it, but I was little bit too late [for limalau].
YY: Even the hula, ancient hula, why do you suppose it didn’t continue?
AK: I don’t know. I don’t know why they dropped that. I don’t know why didn’t they keep up. There was a lot of good hula dancers in Waipi‘o, those days. I don’t know why they give up for. And had a Japanse man, he’s good on that. He’s a Japanese man, he’s really good on that; well, because he has Hawaiian wife, but that dance, I don’t know boy.
VL: You saw him?
AK: Yeah. Once in a awhile, we get the music for, you know, we get together for some kind of party and he dance.
YY: Who was this Japanese man?
VL: Suei’s father?
AK: Suei’s father. Yeah, he’s real good dancer. For that, he’s good dancer. And he can talk Hawaiian good too.
VL: How did the Japanses and Chinese and Hawaiian and Filipinos get along, in those days?
AK: I don’t know. But everybody get along those days, down there. They all get along. Those days, when the Filipinos, or whatever, Japanese, or like that, Chineses; those days, we never had any trouble with them. Even young girls, all that, no more troubles like that. Today might be different.
VL: Yeah: I notice all the ethnic groups in this picture of Waipi‘o Club. The Waipi‘o Club, who could be a member?
AK: Anybody that wants to join. Whoever lives down there, whoever likes to join the club can join.
VL: Were there any requirements for joining?
AK: No. You want to come in, you come in; you don’t want to come in, all right. We just simply organized this thing. You see, we organized the club for something that we need to do in Waipi‘o. Might be, we need to divert the water someplace, or something like that. And then we can hold a meeting, then we can get somebody to, say, go to the Board of Water Supply and give our opinion. We need something to be done in Waipi‘o, we go up there. And we did too. When we had the flood, we did too. We diverted the water, that Hi‘ilawe Stream water. Before was going right near the school wall; we did something for that. They gave us the appropriation. We go up there, we put our problems to them and then they come out and they see. Then the Waipi‘o people get the job, no outsiders, just the Waipi‘o.
VL: So they give you the money . . .
AK: Yeah, they give us the money. Of course, they get the money, but we do the work, then they pay. We were good, our club, we did lot of good things.
VL: Did they send someone to direct you?
AK: Yeah, they send somebody down to direct and show you what and how to do the job. Then, maybe one of the County employees comes down as a foreman.
VL: What other kinds of things like that did the club try to fix for Waipi‘o?
AK: Most time, like the water problem, most time ask them to fix. Like that taro patches, sometimes it’s little bit too much water, all flooded the patch, all flooded. So we need somebody to go, and work, and divert the water something. Maybe we need bulldozer, or something like that. Before, we just work all by hand by ourself, see. All on our own.
VL: Would you, before you started getting together to do this and asking the Water Supply, were there times when you would just get together and go to the waterhead and fix the waterhead, or something . . .?
AK: Yeah. Maybe, for instance, flood coming down or road need repairing or something like that. Then we go out, “How about giving us some money to clean certain, certain place.”
And they tell you, “What part of the valley?”
“Oh we have lot of bushes and all that.”
Then they send overseers, or whatever. Engineers come down there to see.
VL: But before you asked for money, were there times you would go do it anyway, without money?
AK: No. We don’t go out and do it without any money, so we had to. Before we do anything, we ask them if we can, or if they give us the help to help us.
VL: So, before time, if flood damaged the waterhead, who would fix it?
AK: Us. We go out and fix little bit. And then, if we see we need something the County can help us do that, then we go and ask the County. Otherwise, the farmers will do it themselves.
VL: Would farmers help fix the waterhead if it wasn’t their waterhead?
AK: Every farmers help. Like the sections, we all have sections. The other sections have lot of farmers. And we on this side section we have lot of farmers. Now, when the main stream comes here, sometimes too much water go down this way. Then we all go. Maybe you the first one way up, your patch need water. They say, “Oh, the waterhead broke, you known. Better go up fix the waterhead.
And he say, “Okay we come, what day we going work? We all go up, work.” Every farmers just get to clean out.
VL: Even the farmers from the section where . . .
AK: Yeah, yeah, whatever farmeres in this section, we go. So we can divide the water equally. Sometimes they take too much the water that side, then we going get less water this side. So we had to get the water equally for the two sides.
VL: Who decides how much water each side gets?
AK: Oh yeah, you can see how much the water come out. If one flooded, too much water going out. When the water goes down, then you know how much water to come down, how much water go that side.
VL: What if you think this side, this section is taking too much water and the farmers on this other section aren’t getting enough. Did that ever happen?
AK: No, not too bad, though. We had happen sometime but we go p there, “Eh, too much water, I think, this side, we got to need little bit more water.” Then we block little bit so we get water. We block with stones, you know. Pile stones little bit, the water come down this side. Most time, we never had problems.
VL: Then, when you did that, did you have to ask permission from the other side?
AK: No, we just tell them, “Because our side no ’nuff water.” To the farmers.
“Maybe you have too much water this side.”
He say, “I think so, try look up the waterhead.”
We go up look at the waterhead.