Keli‘ipa‘akaua, Joseph Kepo‘ohunaikeaouli Jr.
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.
Mr. Joseph K. Keli‘ipa‘akaua was born at Ke‘ei in 1929. Kupuna Keli‘ipa‘akaua’s father (Joseph Kepo‘ohunaikeaouli Keli‘ipa‘akaua Sr.) was born at Ki‘ilae in 1893, and his mother, Mary Kamahinakauhewa Ka‘ai Keolanui, was also tied to familes with connections to Ki‘ilae and neighboring islands.
Kupuna Keli‘ipa‘akaua’s father settled on lease-hold land in Ke‘ei in the early 1900’s. In Ke‘ei, the family maintained a residence in Ke‘ei Waena, cultivated kalo, coffee, and other crops in the uplands of Ke‘ei (ma uka of the Government Road), and fished the near-shore waters. Through their work on the on the land and along the shore, the family sustained itself. Kupuna Keli‘ipa‘akaua observed that the families on the land grew --
"...the regular staples that they needed. What happened those days, if they had more than what they could use they shared that with others. Of course they also traded off, maybe kalo for i‘a and things like that."
The family grew several varieties of Hawaiian kalo and ‘uala, and during the interview, Kupuna Keli‘ipa‘akaua shared descriptions of planting customs and their association with phases of the moon. During certain times of the year, the family regularly traveled the coast line of Ke‘ei fishing along Kīpū and Moinui.
This interview was conducted as part of a cultural impact assessment study for the lands of Ki‘ilae and Kauleolī, South Kona, and facilitated acquisition of a portion of the land for incorporation into the Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park (Maly 2001 -- KPA HiKii56-050101.) Arrangements for the interview were made with the assistance of Clarence A. Medeiros, Jr. Kupuna Keli‘ipa‘akaua gave his personal release of the interview and notes on May 22, 2001.
KM: Mahalo! Thank you so much for being willing to take a little while for us to talk story.
JK: No problem.
KM: It’s February 13, 2001, and it’s just about 2:40 pm. I’m here at the home of Mr. Keli‘ipa‘akaua, and we’re talking story...Mahalo. Could you please share with me your full name and your date of birth?
JK: Joseph Kepo‘ohunaikeaouli Keli‘ipa‘akaua, Jr.
KM: ‘Ae, beautiful, beautiful name.
KM: Where were you born and when?
JK: I was born May 23, 1929, and as my father said at the Kona Hospital [chuckling].
KM: Oh, okay.
JK: It’s been a long time, the location of the hospital then is not where it is now.
KM: Yes, I guess it was lower?
JK: It was lower and maybe about a mile or so closer to this area than it is now.
KM: You were born in 1929?
KM: Who was your papa?
JK: My father was Joseph Kepo‘ohunaikeaouli Keli‘ipa‘akaua, Sr.
KM: Beautiful. Where was he born, do you know?
JK: He was born in Ki‘ilae, but the exact location I’m not sure of.
KM: Do you know about when your father was born?
JK: Off-hand, no, I’ve forgotten.
KM: Okay, may I ask, when your papa passed away, how old was he, about?
JK: He was about eighty-two, I believe.
KM: Okay. Do you remember what year he passed away, approximately?
JK: Off-hand, no, it’s all on records. I can find that out in a few seconds.
KM: If it’s not too much problem?
JK: No, no.
KM: Mahalo...[tape off, back on]
JK: Okay here we go, he was born May 16, 1893.
KM: Oh my goodness, so your papa was older when you were born?
KM: Were you the youngest?
JK: No, I have a sister, that was the youngest but she passed away at birth.
JK: [showing me a genealogical record] This is in his writing.
KM: Oh, beautiful, so it was 1893. Your mama was who?
JK: Mary Kamahinakauhewa Ka‘ai Keolanui.
KM: Oh, beautiful. Her last name was Keolanui?
KM: Where was her ‘ohana from?
JK: The family was spread out but, as far as I know, after I was born the ‘ohana was here in Ke‘ei also. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Stop & Shop, it used to be the old Ege store?
KM: Yes, Ege store.
JK: Just about maybe...Well, there’s a nut field coming south on your left. There’s a green house, pretty close to the road.
JK: That was the area where my grandmother and my mother used to live.
KM: By Hāili mā?
JK: Right across John Hāili, where John Hāili Kanohokuahiwi was.
KM: Kanohokuahiwi, how nice, yeah? These Hawaiian names, it’s like your name, what a name you know. Did papa ever tell you the source of that name, or your tūtū?
JK: Yes. According to him it was sort of a kapukapu name. It was handed down from the kūpuna, and then whoever the kūpuna or ‘ohana felt it should go to, that was the person to receive it. My father was the one who received it and along with the name of course he said that there was a lot of kapukapu. And that his clothing could never be worn by anyone else, only himself. As far as washing his clothes and things like that it had to be done separately.
JK: He mentioned that it was pretty rough because of the kapukapu. The kūpuna told him it was a name that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and because of that name he was supposed to be careful as far as a lot of things. Whatever they were he didn’t mention it to me.
KM: That’s the way, there’s so much power in a name, yeah?
KM: The kūpuna believed and you know, of course, even...I understand you’re active at Puka‘ana, is that right?
KM: Even in our ho‘omana today we know the saying, "I ka ‘ōlelo nō ke ola, i ka ‘ōlelo nō ka make" (there’s life, or the word has the power to give life or take it.)
KM: The kūpuna believed that so strongly. Papa’s and your name that you carry as the namesake for him...
KM: ...is a special name and thank you for sharing it. You last name Keli‘ipa‘akaua, that maybe tells us something also about your ‘ohana? [chuckling]
JK: Well, yes, I guess so. At the time I was growing up, he made me realize that for me not to dwell on this royalty thing or anything. Just to be a reasonable person, humble person.
KM: Did you hear your papa say kind of like... "holomua" to go forward?
JK: Holomua and ‘oki all that time.
KM: ‘Ae, ‘oki. That’s the same thing like the kapu things, I know when the kūpuna lived in a time that they could put kapu. Everyone knew it.
KM: Now it’s hard if we place these kapu on our children, and then hewa, you eat something and you didn’t know you weren’t supposed to.
JK: That’s right.
KM: Or someone’s clothes get washed with yours and then...the kūpuna were smart they went begin to ‘oki what you said. ‘Oki certain things.
JK: Yes. He did mention that because he was given the name, the ‘ohana started...well, there was some friction among some of the ‘ohana. Those that felt that they shouldn’t have given the name.
KM: We can’t undo any of that.
JK: That’s right. It’s been given and I think there’s nothing else to do but accept if. Be thankful.
KM: ‘Ae, and I think for your mannerism I can tell you pule mau, pule mau, mahalo ke Akua.
KM: How the tūtū say you keep the good, set the bad aside and you just holo mua.
JK: That’s right.
KM: I guess this Keli‘ipa‘akaua, do you know was someone in your kūpuna a war advisor, general, or a warrior for another of the ali‘i?
JK: I don’t know for sure but my father did mention that the name does infer that he was a chief and that he was a warrior chief or something in that line.
KM: Interesting. I love these names because they tell you stories.
JK: Like I said, though, I really don’t know. [chuckling]
KM: Your papa was born at, and lived at, Ki‘ilae, your grandfather mā?
JK: My grandfather, my grandmother.
KM: Do you remember your grandparents’ names?
JK: I remember my grandmother, she was Luisa Manunu...[looking through genealogical papers -- brings out a photograph] Here we go, this is my father, this is my sister, this is me.
KM: Hmm. Oh my, a new baby. So Luisa K. Manunu [reading from paper].
JK: And this is my grandfather, then again at that time, according to my father. The children, the sons did not...like for instance right here my last name is Keli‘ipa‘akaua, my father’s name is Keli‘ipa‘akaua, but if you notice here it isn’t.
KM: ‘Ae. It’s given as his first name and Kupa is the last name.
JK: Right. But then as we go further back it changes again, Kahuluhulu and then Pa‘ahu.
KM: Oh, Pa‘ahu.
JK: Pa‘ahu. At this point, it stops at Keli‘ipa‘akaua.
KM: ‘Ae, maika‘i.
JK: So there’s some confusion.
KM: Beautiful, that’s good - what’s interesting, too, is that we see the names Manunu and Kupa are old Ki‘ilae names as well.
KM: We see your tūtū mā, Keli‘ipa‘akaua. Did you hear what did your grandfather or father them do at Ki‘ilae?
JK: According to my father they were farmers. They lived off the land, they raised taro, and then originally my father mentioned that his parents, more especially my grandfather, had a connection to Waipi‘o. He did mention that the older generation coming from elsewhere and landing in Waipi‘o and then from there the family branched out and sailed into Kona and took up residence.
KM: Settled, resided at?
JK: At Keōkea-Ki‘ilae area.
KM: I understand just what you said that your grandfather mā had māla‘ai that they planted kalo?
KM: And perhaps other crops as well.
JK: Kalo was the main crop at the time, and of course they had ‘uala, too.
JK: You know the regular staples that they needed. What happened those days, if they had more than what they could use they shared that with others. Of course they also traded off, maybe kalo for i‘a and things like that.
JK: [Further discusses regarding the family’s connections to Ki‘ilae and Keōkea, South Kona].
KM: ...Did you ever go up to your tūtū’s old taro patches with your father?
JK: No, because by that time, prior to that my father had moved here.
KM: To this ‘āina?
JK: To this ‘āina.
KM: What ‘āina are we in?
JK: Middle Ke‘ei.
KM: We’re in Ke‘ei. Your tūtū papa, did you ever see your tūtū?
KM: He had passed away already?
JK: Yes, already passed away...
Group: [Discuss connections to Ki‘ilae, and travel along coast between Ke‘ei, Hōnaunau, and Ki‘ilae on fishing excursions].
KM: ...When you came into Ki‘ilae to go fishing, did you come down a trail? Or did you come from Hōnaunau across the Alanui?
JK: We used to come from Hōnaunau.
KM: The old Alanui Aupuni up Alahaka?
KM: Was there a special place by where dad them would stop and you folks would...?
JK: Yes, Kau‘inui had another lot close to the road.
KM: ‘Ae, ma‘anei in here.
JK: Yes, in here someplace. There was a make-shift house.
KM: Was that ma uka of the road?
JK: Ma uka.
KM: The one ma uka of the road so that’s this one here.
JK: That was open to all the ‘ohana.
KM: A base, where you folks would get together and...
KM: Then they would go along the shore ma kai here go lawai‘a, holoholo?
JK: Lawai‘a, go all the way in and then kā mākoi during the day.
KM: What kind of fish?
JK: Maiko, manini, ‘ala‘ala fishing [chuckling].
KM: Good so you, the kind ‘ala‘ala for no more or for ‘ala‘ala for make the bait [chucking]?
JK: For make the bait.
KM: On the hook, the little ‘ala‘ala.
KM: Did daddy have a special way of preparing the ‘ala‘ala?
KM: How did he prepare it?
JK: Well, he took a lot of time. There were things that he needed to use. He used kupukupu, we call it kupukupu, I don’t know...
KM: Is it the fern, kupukupu? No?
JK: No, it’s not a fern it’s a geranium-type plant.
JK: It’s smelly, spicy smell. He used that and salt and ‘ala‘ala. And of course it had to be roasted.
KM: He would roast it...did he prepare it down here at Ki‘ilae?
JK: No, most of the time it would be done home here. Well, the old house used to be below here.
KM: A little ma kai.
JK: Those days we had our wood stove, the open kind.
KM: Yes. He would kō‘ala that?
JK: He would pūlehu.
JK: There was a sound that he would listen to, the sizzling-like [chuckles].
JK: It had to be so, so.
KM: Just the right kani [chuckling]?
JK: Yes. Then that would be ready and then he would mix it.
KM: Did he mix kukui or pearl oil or anything at all with it?
KM: He would make that, mix up?
JK: Uh-hmm, mix it up and then put it in the poho niu, and then cover it with the tī leaf he used to wrap the ‘ala‘ala. Of course, he would make his own hook because the store hook would not really meet that angle that they needed to penetrate the brain of the fish. This hook was made so that the point of it...I was told that maiko and manini do not feed from under the hook, they feed from the top. They come down on the hook. When the come down on it, when they close (their mouth), you feel that weight and you just flick and the tip of the hook would penetrate the brain.
KM: Could you draw the alignment of the hook right here?
JK: It’s a simple thing. This is the critical angle. Sometimes...
KM: The barb side?
JK: Yes, and this is without the barb.
JK: Without a barb.
KM: Was he making it out of iron or nail or?
JK: No. He used to use those old tires. They used to have those wire reinforcements. The edge of the tires?
JK: In there used to have those steel wires, these were the ones that he used. Like I said this is the critical angle.
KM: Okay, so the outer side?
KM: This is the line up here?
JK: This is [end of Side A, begin Side B] ...the end of the hook. The line is wrapped around here tight and it goes up to the pole.
KM: Yes, about how big was the hook?
KM: Big hook.
JK: He would make it so that it would be easy to readjust the angle and then after this thing was shaped and filed, then he would put it in the fire to heat it up and quickly cool it.
KM: To temper it?
JK: Temper it.
KM: That was his, he like go kā mākoi with that? He would dip the tip of his hook little bit into his palu?
JK: His palu was put on what we call that stick, it’s something like in that hi‘a.
KM: The hi‘a, a net shuttle like? Was it a bamboo?
JK: Made out of bamboo with, just shaped so that it’s wider at the part that you put the bait on. You put it in your mouth. So it’s just a matter of getting the tip of the hook. Just a little bit put on to cover the tip and that was it.
KM: ‘Ae. And the fish jump on that hook, I heard sometimes. They’re really ‘ono for that.
JK: Yes, if it’s made right you have no problem. The combination of what you used was real critical. Each person had their own way of making it, the ‘ala‘ala. Some would use a little kerosene for whatever purpose, and some would use chili pepper and nutmeg or things like that.
KM: ‘Ae. Did you hear they use ‘alani, too?
JK: I heard, but I didn’t see.
KM: You didn’t. Your papa had his own mix?
JK: Yes, he wouldn’t go into kerosene or anything because he felt that "this is food." [chuckling]
KM: ‘Ae, that’s right. Now that’s an important value, because today, we have people go out lawai‘a and they use pīlau stuff, so what are you going to eat?
JK: That’s right.
KM: Pīlau right? Then you wonder how come ma‘i.
JK: He made it a point to tell me "when you make this don’t...When you make it right, you pule and take care."
KM: Papa, he would pule?
JK: Even before we start fishing he would pule. And we had more than enough.
KM: ‘Ae. And how was his manner when he would go fishing and when he taught you folks? You take everything, or you take what you could use. And did you share back?
JK: That’s right. Take what you can use and then we share what you get.
KM: ‘Ae so you hā‘awi aloha, you give some and what next time lo‘a?
JK: Lo‘a again. ‘A‘ole nele.
KM: ‘Ae. So you folks would go for maiko, manini out here. Were there places where you could gather limu as well?
JK: Yes, limu pāhe‘e was down during the winter months then it was easy to come by.
KM: ‘Ae, mōhala come up?
KM: Down Ki‘ilae like that, too?
JK: Ki‘ilae. In fact, down here at Ke‘ei, too. Moinui, and all those areas. Those are nice areas for limu pāhe‘e.
KM: Wonderful, thank you so much...Thank you so much for being willing to share. I don’t suppose that your papa and you discussed the kinds of taro or sweet potatoes that they grew when they were young?
JK: He did mention, of course, they had their mana and the double eye, and he called it the mana maoli, the mana makoko, mana ‘ele‘ele.
JK: And then the poi taro we used to raise, was the waiākea...
KM: ‘Ae, oh.
JK: You familiar with that?
KM: I don’t hear many people use that name anymore.
JK: [chuckling] We used that.
KM: So you were growing here, too?
JK: We did, in fact up till about maybe five, six years ago I used to have some growing in between.
KM: Māla‘ai, wonderful!
JK: Didn’t do too good down here because of the weather, it’s too hot.
KM: I guess so, that’s why I understand where your kūkū’s place was, nice because it was a little higher elevation.
KM: I guess you’re maybe thirteen-hundred feet or something.
JK: At least.
KM: If you get the malu, the ulu ‘ōhi‘a or kukui or something, a little bit scatters shade, like that.
JK: If you get the ama‘u and hāpu‘u and stuff.
KM: ‘Ae, keep everything moist, yeah.
JK: Right. We used to raise taro. We lived up here, too bad you can’t see it now. We used to go up Bishop Estate property, we leased properties up there. We used to raise our taro.
KM: Ma uka, Ke‘ei?
JK: Ma uka Ke‘ei, we had just about...[Mrs. Keli‘ipa‘akaua comes out to offer coffee]...Like I said we had ‘ele‘ele. The ‘ele‘ele for poi, we preferred the ‘ele‘ele and waiākea. The waiākea was the favorite, for one thing the color.
KM: The color is purple, deeper?
KM: Similar to lehua kind quality.
JK: Right. After that this variety that looked like waiākea to me was called lehua.
KM: That’s the similar thing you know, this is something, did your dad talk to you about planting seasons, as well?
JK: That’s right.
KM: The reason I just bring that up, and then I’m going to ask you about that. You go different districts, locations, even different islands, sometimes what they call lehua maybe someone else called waiākea.
JK: That’s right.
KM: What you call ha‘akea maybe someone calls haokea.
KM: Or the different nights of the moon maybe one district calls it this, you know?
JK: That’s right, it could have been that.
KM: Yes, maybe almost the same, but some people call it this.
JK: We had that taro that smells fragrant.
KM: A‘ala oh, sweet, good?
JK: To us that was an all-purpose taro.
KM: Table and all kinds.
JK: Table and poi, no matter how you do it.
KM: Kāī‘ala. They might have called it Kāī‘ala or was it just ‘ala?
JK: I cannot recall.
KM: Kāī‘ala is how it’s often referred to.
JK: I know it ends up with ‘ala.
KM: Maika‘i, good. How many acres did you folks keep here, was it an acre or less?
JK: I think...it wasn’t measured actually, it was the māla‘ai. We planted at least about five, six hundred huli at a crack. When that was done and after so many months, then we would again open up another area and then get ready for whatever huli that’s coming up from the ones that we pulled.
KM: For the next cutting. That way you rotated?
KM: And you would always be able to have the ‘ai.
JK: Yes, we always had our own huli to keep us going.
KM: ‘Ae, maika‘i. Smart, this simple system of working on the land and knowing. Did your father talk to you about planting by the seasons or months or nights?
JK: He did. He talked to me about using the moon as a guide because, according to him, not every moon is good. You had moons that might...he calls palemo for certain things, like bananas either was planted on moon with [thinking], I cannot recall the right name right now. What happens is that the banana will grow, will bare but just before maturing it’ll drip the whole bunch, would just drop out.
KM: Did you hear the name muku?
JK: Muku [nodding head]
KM: That’s one, not supposed to be too good a night, I guess, for...
JK: Yes. This happened...it doesn’t happen every month but there is a month that you stay away from planting the bananas. Taro of course...māhealani according to him was a good moon to plant.
KM: ‘Ae, that’s the full?
KM: All the juices come up.
JK: I tried it and it works.
KM: It’s logical because when get light all the time, full day sun, full moon light, all those nutrients.
JK: At first, I was one that was kind of hesitant about it.
KM: Skeptical a little?
JK: Skeptical [chuckling].
KM: Yes, dad, that’s right.
JK: "What?" But after listening and then trying it and seeing the results, there is something to it.
KM: Yes. If you think about it, do you remember your dad talking about a moon when it was shaped up having a difference between a moon that is shaped down? You know, crescent down? Like everything pours out or everything is held in?
JK: Yes, he did mention that because he would look at the moon and it was facing up, he would say, oh well, I guess we will not have rain for a little while.
JK: That was one of the things that he mentioned. And then if it was facing down, he say, oh it looks good, we going to have some rain. He would mention...there were a lot of things that he told me about the moon that...
KM: If only you had a nice little recorder back then [chuckling]?
JK: I’m thankful that he told me the names of the moons and he gave me an idea as to how to get the moon at the right stage.
KM: You knew when to go plant or maybe even to go kahakai?
JK: Right. Those days we used to go lamalama. Not every night that we’d do it, the nights that we did go, we did good. We used to go lamalama.
KM: These must be things that papa learned while he was growing up at Ki‘ilae, too, and experienced from his own papa and the ‘ohana?
JK: Yes. Like I mentioned, anything and everything that he did, there was always a prayer before. And of course after.
KM: ‘Ae, noi mua, you ask first, and you ho‘omaika‘i when you pau. Aloha...
JK: Lot of people used to say, you go night time like that, it’s scary because you have all those kepalō.
KM: Or huaka‘i pō, the night marchers come.
JK: Yes, the night marchers and all of that. [chuckling] Never did bother because we going there for one purpose with aloha, we not going to kolohe, hana ‘ino.
KM: ‘Ae. I can see in your mannerism how kanaka makua you are, your papa must have really instilled in you that you aloha, you respect, you take care. Take what you need, leave.
JK: That’s right.
KM: You always share, too?
JK: That’s right.
JK: We used to get plenty, and then you have plenty so why not...
KM: That’s right.
JK: If you don’t eat it...you know those days we didn’t have refrigerator, not like we do now.
KM: That’s right and pohō, yeah. And I know I’ve heard the kūkū say something like, "a‘ale e ‘uwē ‘ana ka ‘ai iā ‘oe, e ‘uwē ‘ana ‘oe i ka ‘ai."
KM: The food not going cry for you, you going cry for the food, so no waste ‘em. You remember something like that?
JK: I remember that [chuckling].
KM: Interesting, yeah.
JK: My father used to say, "You take what you can eat, and eat what you take."
JK: You want some more, go get some more.
JK: But no hana ‘ino.
KM: ‘Ae. Mahalo nui! It’s so nice to meet you. Thank you, I appreciate that you were willing to let me pop in.
JK: No problem.
KM: I think you’ll enjoy this, your family. I kind of got a sense from your daughter’s answering machine, she’s interested in history. She started out with a Hawaiian saying also about that you aloha...I think that your ‘ohana will enjoy this interview that we were able to do here. Thank you...nice to meet you.
JK: I enjoy talking with you, too.
KM: Mahalo...I will take this mo‘olelo, and transcribe it. It will take a little while...[tape off, then back on in discussion about gathering salt.]
JK: ...we learned.
KM: So certain areas, you can go and gather salt that’s another reason why the kūpuna wanted to make sure that you don’t hana ‘ino someplace or you don’t hauka‘e or something.
JK: That’s right.
KM: Maybe the next guy going come and want this salt or something. There were areas...do you remember were there any places along the shore at Ki‘ilae that you could gather salt or were there other areas when you went?
JK: There were places at Ki‘ilae, we did and there were places here at Ke‘ei beach that we also did that. More especially, Ke‘ei beach I remember, we did go there very often.
KM: Oh yes, you were here so it was easier, quickly. Like you said there was a week when summer school break, your father dedicated one time you folks would go kahakai. You would stay ma kai?
JK: At that time he was leasing a property at Ke‘ei beach and there was a house, a shack there that was useable. That’s where we stayed and from there we would walk all the way out to Kīpū, Moinui and those areas.
JK: And then fish backwards by the time you reach, by the time we got tired we already close to home.
KM: Smart yeah, you don’t need hāpai the load all the way. You go out this way, catch, catch, catch, and then when you come home, lō‘ihi...
JK: [chuckling] That’s a load to carry.
KM: Kaumaha...that’s funny. Papa was basically a fisherman, he worked for the county when work was available. WPA which was a really neat program. He worked on the road?
JK: Yes, on the roads here and also in Ka‘ū area. He was a foreman, too. Every little bit helps, and when there’s no jobs we’re all out in the field, māla‘ai.
KM: You have to. Hard life...but you folks learned plenty?
JK: We appreciate it. I tell my grandchildren about that life that we had. We didn’t have a car until I was...after I graduated from high school.
JK: We couldn’t afford it.
KM: Yes. Strong so you walk. You were living down here?
KM: How did you get up to school?
JK: The buses, I used to walk up to the intersection and then the buses would pick us up, they wouldn’t drive down this way, we walk up the intersection, caught the bus. Got off the bus in the afternoon rain or shine, we walk...
KM: ...Again, thank you so much...it’s nice to connect.
JK: I enjoyed it, too...[end of interview]