Leslie, Fred Kaimalino (with Weston Leslie) (Part 1)
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.
Fred Kaimalino Leslie was born at Nāpo‘opo‘o in 1918. His immediate family (Leslie, Gaspar, and Kamakau) has lived at Nāpo‘opo‘o for generations, and his late wife’s family (Lanui Kaneao and Kua) was the last native Hawaiian family to reside on the Ka‘awaloa Flats, where he also lived for a while in the 1930s. From the days of his youth, kupuna Leslie traveled the land (mauka-makai), and fished the ocean of Kona with his elders. Indeed, he has lived his life as a fisherman. He is an excellent story teller, and in his interview, he shares many accounts of travel between the Ke‘ei-Pu‘uohau region (both on land and by sea). He still makes ‘ōpelu nets, and describes many customs and practices associated with native fishing techniques.
This interview was conducted as a part of a study prepared at the request of the State of Hawai‘i – Nā Ala Hele Program (Maly 2001 - KPA HiAla40-061501), and the narratives are given verbatim—as released. During the interview, kupuna Leslie shared detailed descriptions of fishing customs; the importance of features on the inland landscape to locating fisheries (ko‘a); travel along native trails and historic roadways; traditional practices associated with land use; and of several areas where heiau, ilina, and other important features occur. Kupuna Leslie’s nephews, Gene and Weston Leslie initiated the contact, and Weston facilitated arrangements for the interview. Kupuna Leslie gave his release of the interview on May 2, 2001.
KM: Uncle may I please ask you what is your full name and when were you born?
FL: I was born September 10, 1918.
KM: ‘Ae. A blessing . . . strong. Your full name?
FL: [chuckling] Fred—my Hawaiian name is Kaimalino—Leslie.
KM: Fred Kaimalino Leslie, beautiful.
FL: Yes. That’s what I used to go by, the Hawaiians that were in the village at that time, they all knew me as Kaimalino.
FL: I used to go spear uhu, I used to give ’em. Sometimes I would go just for . . . some of the Hawaiians those days when you go down, you walking on the road. They tell, "ē hele mai, ‘ai!" They call you come eat. When I go inisde there they no more nothing only salt and poi.
KM: ‘Ae, that’s how, yeah?
FL: That’s all they get for eat.
KM: So you go lawai‘a, and then you go share with them?
FL: I go get fish for them, I give ’em. I go spear fish, I give ’em.
KM: Maika‘i. Where were you born?
FL: Down at Nāpo‘opo‘o.
KM: ‘Ae. Who was your mama?
FL: My mama was Joanna Gaspar.
FL: Henry Andrew Leslie.
KM: What did your papa do?
FL: He used to be fisherman and he used to take care the landing at Nāpo‘opo‘o, he was what they call a wharf manager.
KM: That’s Henry?
KM: Was papa hapa Hawai‘i or was he pure haole?
FL: He was Hawaiian and haole.
KM: Mama was?
FL: She was part Hawaiian, some of the family was from Kaua‘i, the Fredenburg family. According to the archives, I went one time to try trace the family. He [Fredenburg] was from New York, he was a skilled . . . you know for build things. In fact he built that you know the sugar plantation in Koloa?
FL: He’s the one that build ’um.
KM: And then mama’s maiden name was Gaspar also?
KM: I have an old map here of the Nāpo‘opo‘o area. This is Register Map 1595, the map was surveyed in the 1890s.
FL: Ohh! Walter Wall, yeah.
KM: Kanakanui originally surveyed the map in 1892. This is the Nāpo‘opo‘o kind of vicinity and in fact I think if we look down here. This is the road, here’s the road come down, here’s Nāpo‘opo‘o wharf right here.
KM: You folks were down this place yeah, Kau‘i? Is that right were you folks down here or were you?
FL: We were more close to the . . . [pauses]
KM: Right by the landing?
FL: About maybe a hundred fifty yards from the landing.
KM: On the makai side of the old road?
KM: You were on the ocean, kahakai?
KM: I see there’s some of these names, because these are the old names, maybe it doesn’t have quite your family name in here. I see Kanepa‘ahana, Lono, Cummings. Cummings had the store I guess, the little store that used to be right by the old wharf over there.
FL: Yes, yes.
KM: Were you by the store area?
FL: On this side of the store.
KM: North of the store.
FL: Not very far.
KM: What did you do when you were growing up as a child, a young guy?
FL: Well, I mostly go to school.
KM: You had to go school. You went Nāpo‘opo‘o school?
KM: And then you went Konawaena or pau?
FL: Konawaena, I went until I was in eighth grade and I quit school. Those days was hard time, plus the Depression years. Then I started go fishing.
KM: Hmm. I hear you folks were famous fishermen, your ‘ohana?
FL: Yes, we were flag line fishing, that is what you call long line.
KM: Long line . . . and so you started going kahakai, you go ‘au‘au, you go dive fish like you said you go for uhu like that?
FL: Yes, spear. Those days we got to learn, that’s our living. We were not that bad, we were young kids yet, when we like fish, we just go get ’em.
KM: Yes, you knew?
FL: The elderly people, had the Ka‘ohu family, they were in their eighties some of them ninety, maybe over. That’s what I used to do, go spear and . . .
KM: Maika‘i, so you aloha the kūpuna, yeah?
KM: You would go out and like you said they call you, "Hele mai ‘ai" and you go, they get pa‘akai . . .
FL: No more, only poi and salt.
KM: Did you folks used to make salt down here, somewhere?
FL: Yes, I’ve known of people going along the beach down Ka‘awaloa side.
KM: On to the Ka‘awaloa flat side?
FL: Yes, on the flat outside by the lighthouse there.
FL: And they get the kind poho pa‘akai, and that’s where we go get our salt.
KM: I guess certain time of the year they would go when the ocean . . .
FL: When rough. When real rough, the water go on top and go inside all this poho, eh.
FL: Then the sun evaporates take the water away and just leaves the salt. Talk about good salt, that’s the best . . . that’s the winner!
KM: I’m going to pull out this Ka‘awaloa map.
FL: I’ve lived in that area for several years.
KM: Oh yeah.
WL: Aunty Annie’s from there too.
FL: Yes, my wife is from there . . .
Group: [discusses Ka‘awaloa vicinity]
KM: . . . Did you hear what the name, Pali-kapu-o-Keōua, what does that mean?
FL: I would say . . . you mean the interpretation?
FL: Pali-kapu . . . pali means cliff, I would say a forbidden cliff.
KM: ‘Ae. For Keōua . . .
FL: The translation . . . Keōua’s-forbidden-cliff.
KM: ‘Ae, cuase he was an old chief, yeah?
KM: They say Keōua was the father of Kamehameha, I think.
KM: Did you hear the name Manuahi?
FL: No. Where is that, over here too?
KM: They said it’s over here also, Manuahi. Maybe the older name before Palikapu . . .
FL: Probably some chief or something.
KM: ‘Ae. How about Nāpo‘opo‘o?
FL: Nāpo‘opo‘o, I would say . . . I would interpret it as a place . . . depressed [gestures with hands—a hollow area].
FL: It’s sunken . . . po‘opo‘o means like that.
KM: ‘Ae, hollow like . . .
FL: Would fit the description because Nāpo‘opo‘o is.
KM: A hollow like, interesting . . . The kūpuna na‘auao . . .
FL: I know one spot up here, if you talk about beautiful. Get one turn in the road and the guy that told me about this place you remember Earl Glass, he used to stay right up here.
WL: The neighbor.
FL: He told me that’s a beautiful spot. So one day I went with him. I say, "Hey you show me that beautiful spot." He said, "here right here." We jump over the guard rail and then walked out . . . oh you look right down at Nāpo‘opo‘o, the curve, beautiful.
KM: Must be beautiful.
FL: Now they talk about view points and all that . . . what you see at Keauhou is nothing. You try look at that . . . oh perfect down. That house somebody building one house, one haole building one house now. He’s going to look right down, I said . . . gee, that’s the best sight I’ve ever seen. But the land is going . . . these haoles buying everything up.
KM: Got to take care yeah?
KM: That’s why we have to talk with the kama‘āina, with the kūpuna so that for historic preservation, to try and balance. Because change happens . . .
FL: Yes, you cannot stop.
KM: It’s important to take care like you said . . .
KM: [pointing out sites on Register Map No. 1281] . . . Now, this road here past Puhina-o-Lono comes up and then the old Alanui Aupuni that you were saying crosses the pali. That’s the one you come down on the pali on top of Palikapu? The old road . . .
KM: Evidently the trail . . .
FL: Get one trail go down.
KM: Zig . . . comes off the top of the pali? Down?
KM: And then does it come out behind the heiau down here . . . Hikiau or something or?
FL: Yes. [thinking] You remember the coffee mill down Nāpo‘opo‘o?
FL: The coffee mill . . . right behind the coffee mill that road used to come out.
KM: Ah . . .
FL: Had one road coming down and you know where uncle Bobby’s house?
WL: Going up the kula, the road?
FL: The one down Nāpo‘opo‘o?
FL: Bobby’s house . . . had one gate over there. You go up that gate, right up to behind the coffee mill and then you get that trail go up the side of the pali.
KM: Did that come out by Manuel’s house, DeGouveia? The old Kealakekua Post Office or different road?
FL: [thinking] Ah . . . Gouveia’s house.
KM: Was more mauka?
FL: Gouveia’s house goes more down [gestures to north].
KM: More over . . . oh.
FL: Gouveia used to work for Greenwell.
KM: That’s right, Manuel DeGouveia.
FL: Yes, Manuel DeGouveia [chuckling].
KM: What they say is the old road comes on top of the pali. Here’s Pali-kapu-Keōua . . . come on top the pali come somewhere out here and then cut down, yeah? Was there a trail that came out by this old fishpond? You know the fishpond down by Hikiau?
FL: Yes, yes, had one trail come down there. That’s the same one that comes down.
KM: Cuts over to Bobby’s house to Lopaka’s house your cousin?
KM: Because see this here Henrique’s . . . this is his place right here [Grant 6345]. Bobby mā.
FL: Yes, Henrique’s that’s where.
KM: Ah . . . okay.
FL: I remember Henrique’s, he sold the place to my uncle Bob. Bobby get two house, one across the road and one more.
WL: Oh, was Henrique’s place, that?
KM: Yes, the one makai was Henrique’s.
WL: Near the ocean, that one?
KM: Henry Enrique’s was that the one with the canoes too, like that. Did he do canoeing or something?
FL: That’s Frank that, Frank Henriques . . .
Group: [discuss trail and Alanui Aupuni routes running north]
KM: . . . Now, your wahine was Annie Lanui?
KM: Was Kaneao?
FL: Kaneao, yes . . . K-a-n-e-a-o, Kaneao.
KM: Oh, Kaneao. Old family down here, they lived down here all . . .
FL: Yes, that’s the last family that was living in Ka‘awaloa.
KM: When did they leave Ka‘awaloa?
FL: [thinking] In about . . . just before the war.
KM: Just before ’41 about.
FL: Yes, they went mauka up a little past the junction.
WL: Old man Johnny Medeiros used to stay down there too?
FL: Johnny Medeiros, when the mother died they came . . . that’s when I was living over there Ka‘awaloa my wife and I. All those kids used to come . . .
WL: Uncle, how you guys get you poi coming across Nāpo‘opo‘o?
WL: Put the flag up and then paddle over across the bay?
KM: For real . . .
WL: The white flag up.
KM: At Nāpo‘opo‘o landing, they hoist up one flag you knew had poi.
FL: Then we go over get the poi.
KM: You paddle the canoe?
FL: Yes. I had one canoe I used to use over there. Those days was all [gestures paddling a canoe].
KM: Hoe, hoe, hoe ka wa‘a. That’s why you strong yet too, even though you smoked you said, but because you out lawai‘a, you paddle canoe . . . the lungs strong ’eh.
FL: I used to paddle, man I paddle all over. I used to go down to the ‘ahi ko‘a, down Keauhou, all paddle.
KM: For real, wow!
FL: Early in the morning, I go.
KM: And you said one last thing here . . . Ka‘awaloa by the lighthouse side has the poho, pa‘akai?
FL: Still there.
KM: That’s where you folks would go make salt?
KM: That’s important. Now, did you folks go to the mountain also to plant or did someone else plant and you stayed makai?
FL: No, we never did.
KM: You folks were fisherman?
FL: Fishermen, yeah.
KM: This is a little hard because it’s the scale but the map . . . here’s Kealakekua, Nāpo‘opo‘o Landing. You would go fish various places all along here?
FL: All along here, yeah.
KM: Even you said the ko‘a ‘ahi at Keauhou? You go that far out? [pointing out various locations on register Map No. 1281]
FL: Yes. By Red Hill, even Red Hill there.
KM: Yes, so here’s Pu‘uohau right, Red Hill?
FL: This ʻahi ko‘a is over here someplace.
KM: This is Keawekāheka, this is Ka‘awaloa, here’s Keauhou here.
KM: When you would go out to the ko‘a . . . how far out is the ko‘a ‘ahi, mile or more or less?
FL: I would think about a mile and a half somewheres around there.
KM: Did you have certain points on the land that you would mark?
FL: Mark, yes we got landmark by what triangulation.
KM: Yes. What kind of areas? If I can ask, becuase it’s important so that you know sometimes now, when the bulldozer come pau . . . they even move the landmarks.
FL: Oh yes, that’s what our problem is now.
KM: How come it’s a problem?
FL: Well, you take before Red Hill ko‘a . . .
KM: ‘Ae, ma‘ane‘i, here’s Pu‘uohau.
FL: They had a name one was ‘Umi. ‘Umi was where if the current go strong Kohala. And in fishing [gestures motion with hands] the fish is always work against the current. I used to wonder why might be easier to catch small fish because the small fish going against the current. Cannot fish so fast, then the big fish catch ’em and eat ’em. I figure that’s why and another theory is by working against the current the small fish going be carried by the current right.
[The ‘Umi Ko‘a and associated land markers mentioned above by uncle, were also described in the 1930s by Nāpo‘opo‘o historian Kalokuokamaile (Kelsey & Kekahuna notes).]
And they say if you was one ‘ahi you work against that. Your meal going come to you.
KM: That’s right, come to your mouth you no need work as hard [chuckling]
FL: You no need bust your [ ] for ’em.
FL: It figures.
KM: The Kohala current, come down from Kohala?
FL: Yes, if strong Kohala . . . especially if the thing pull to Maui. Maui is an angle . . .
KM: Yes . . . angle out.
FL: They going in at an angle and that’s the ko‘a they call ‘Umi.
KM: ‘Umi, in front of Pu‘uohau?
FL: This way of Pu‘uohau.
KM: Kealakekua side of Pu‘uohau?
KM: You said about a mile or something out like that?
FL: About a mile and a half.
FL: That’s only about seventy fathoms.
KM: For ‘ahi?
FL: For ‘ahi.
KM: Oh, maika‘i.
FL: But now if they going put that law and you cannot fish . . . what the Hawaiians cannot go catch, ‘ahi? [ ], I going whether they like it or not.
KM: Yes, because that’s your practice. That’s your traditional way.
KM: And you learned this ko‘a from your kūkū, from your papa mā?
FL: Yes, passed down. They get guys on that committee that don’t know nothing!
KM: On the committee?
FL: They don’t know nothing!
WL: Get ‘Umi get Kana‘a [as pronounced] . . .
FL: Kanāhāhā. [See also Kalokuokamaile’s description of the Kanāhāhā Ko‘a on page 310 of the main study.]
KM: ’Cause Kanāhāhā that’s way one pu‘u on top Hualālai side too?
KM: You triangulate with that pu‘u?
FL: No, not really our best mark was down Keauhou used to get one banyan bush, and then you traingulate ’um . . . You put the banyan bus right on one sand hole and you let ’em up and that’s triangulation this way. Then down this way you can use Nāpo‘opo‘o’s different house on that lighthouse point.
KM: You get that far out where you can see the banyan at Keauhou?
FL: Where the line intersect is it.
FL: That’s triangulation.
KM: And you got to know your land.
FL: Yes, you got to know what house.
WL: What area.
KM: Had pu‘u that they used or sections in the forest?
FL: They get all kinds of markers. On the mountain get one bush, that’s my marker and the bush square you know. You know the Kona Hospital, the square bush you put ’em right on Kona Hospital.
KM: Ah . . . and then you out.
FL: You cannot miss you can see it just stand out.
KM: And what kind fish you get from your ko‘a?
FL: Kaka line.
KM: For kāhala or?
FL: Kāhala, ‘ula‘ula . . .
KM: ‘Ae, amazing! Do you have a special name for your ko‘a for your forest way up there?
KM: You just know ’em.
FL: Yes, as soon I go, I look I know.
KM: You know you’re home.
FL: And I can pinpoint that buggah hundred ten fathoms, boom every spot I hit ’em!
KM: Amazing, yeah.
FL: Good mark.
WL: [chuckling] That’s the kind mark we losing ’em.
WL: All these kind marks, from development.
FL: Then what came in, the development came in they cut the bush down. That’s our old mark, it’s gone, we got to get different mark now. Even the old mark no more the banyan tree, the sand hole . . . that’s part of the golf course now.
KM: Ah . . . Keauhou side . . .
Group: [speaking of burials in the Kealakekua Pali, and previously proposed development]
KM: So when they wanted to build a golf course on top there what did you think?
FL: Got to say, no way!
KM: No way, eh.
FL: I say, "You got to respect people."
KM: Yes, you got to.
FL: They treating ’em just like animal you know . . .
[Speaking of transitions in land tenure and residency—consolidation of ownership under a few large land owners.]
. . . Those days they grab all the land. Nāpo‘opo‘o, you look Greenwells. You know where the park stay now, where the guys selling stuff, all Hawaiians owned that land. They die off . . . Greenwell claim ’em. Now all Greenwells.
KM: Here’s some names this Nawaiehu, this is by where your sister Momi lives, Nawaiehu. Papaula, do you remember . . . this old man Papaula used to be the school teacher in the 1800s. Maybe your grandmother’s time like that, famous name, Papaula, Kauhi, has Kaha, Kaikua‘ana . . . but this was all just what you said though was all native Hawaiian families, kuleana, before.
FL: Yes, that’s right.
KM: Like here this Palau come this side Kahauloa that was Mona, do you remember Mona, she married Kahele, Kapule, Mona?
FL: Yes, Mona.
KM: That was her tūtū’s place I guess over there.
FL: Where is that?
KM: Right here . . . here’s you know Kahauloa . . .
KM: Yes, Kapahukapu, Manini they call now.
FL: Manini beach, yeah.
KM: Kapahukapu that’s the old name.
FL: Yes, I know that place as Kapahukapu.
FL: You know how that name came Manini?
FL: Way back this Julian Yates them . . . I remember he had one boy Jackie. They used to go around and like name the different places. They don’t know the names . . . [slaps his hands] we call ’em Manini Beach! That’s how he told me how the name Manini Beach. I tell ’em hey . . . those Hawaiians they had all kinds of name.