Ackerman, Howard with Harriet Ackerman (Part 1)

Kepā Maly -- August 5, 2002 at Kalamawai'awa'awa
Photo Courtesy Of:

Nā Maka o ka ‘Āina
(August 30, 2002)



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.

Howard Ackerman was born at Kalamawai‘awa‘awa in 1932.  On both sides of his family, he is descended from traditional residents of lands between Kalamawai‘awa‘awa and Hōkūkano.  While growing up, Uncle was inquisitive, and spent much of his time out of school traveling the land, working from the mountain lands to the shore, and fishing with elder Hawaiian residents of the Ke‘ei - Kealakekua region.  From his own parents and area kūpuna, he learned Hawaiian customs, practices, and values, which he has lived throughout his life.  He and his wife, have in-turn shared their experiences and the knowledge gained from their elders with youth of the area.

Uncle is a noted fisherman, and in the interview he shared detailed descriptions of fishing the waters between Ke‘ei and Ka‘awaloa, observing that there have been significant changes in the health of the fisheries over the years.  He described various methods of fishing, and the importance of caring for the resources.  Uncle also described the application of the same kinds of values and practice in land use and stewardship.  While sharing the recollections of families and practices, Uncle Howard referenced a number of place names along the coast from Ke‘ei to Kealakekua.  In particular he noted that the near shore pond at Kalamawai‘awa‘awa – Kapahukapu, was always noted as a place of importance, and known for its healing qualities.  He believes that care of the land and ocean resources, and cultural places is very important.  He is also very concerned about the protection of access (native trails and old roads), and protection of shore line for future generations; and laments the loss of these resources to date.

On August 30th, Uncle Howard joined a small group of kūpuna and area kama‘āina for an interview on the shore of Ke‘ei.  For additional descriptions of sites, practices and customs, see that interview.  Uncle Howard granted his release of the two interviews on January 7, 2003.

: …I used to go dive with them and I look at them and I come up and I laugh and I used to tell them, “This guy a good diver?” They said, “Yes,” and I look at them and I laugh… Kids before, I was thirteen years old I out dive ‘em you know. Because I say we were kids and we were diving akule net you know so we used to going down this real deep water.

KM: Yes, amazing! Mahalo to both of you, thank you so much for being willing to talk story a little bit this morning. I want to just ask, it’s August 5th, 2002 it’s just about eleven o’clock now. We’re sitting down here at your home. And could I please have your full name and date of birth?

HA: Howard, that’s all, Ackerman.

KM: Howard Ackerman. But you said you had a punahele name when you were…

HA: Well, you know that was only that bunch, I don’t know why they didn’t give me that name…that’s regardless, nobody really knows that name.

KM: [chuckles] Yes, okay. And you hānau when?

HA: July 23, 1932.

KM: Oh, aloha. You come seventy just last month?

HA: Yes, yes. I just got seventy.

KM: Wonderful.

HA: We had another old house my brother and my sister were born right out here.

KM: You were born down makai here?

HA: No, I think I was the only one, went to the hospital.

KM: Ahh. But your mama and papa were living here?

HA: Yes. There was another old house on the other side by the houses now before.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: We were born over there but all our pictures were taken here on the pūne‘e outside on the porch. Big old house with a big porch.

KM: What ‘āina are we in now?

HA: This property actually was Kahiwa.

KM: Kahiwa, oh.

HA: Walter’s mama. Aunty Sarah you know, and then daddy when live over here. Aunty Sarah them later moved there, she lived there, Walter them.

KM: Yes.

HA: And then we moved there when we were kids and then Walter them lived there from behind in the old house.

KM: I see. Oh.

HA: Before they went to Miloli‘i.

KM: ‘Ae. Oh. And you, now you basically as an Ackerman your family connects also to the Hōkūkano lands like that yeah?

HA: Yes, yes.

KM: But, your papa was part-Hawaiian also?

HA: I think had, because their mother was a Yates.

KM: Ahh. Julian Yates…daughters?

HA: No. Julian Yates, Julian Yates and my father are first cousins.

KM: I see.

HA: And Mrs. Kimi them [thinking] the Wassmans, they all tied together.

KM: Okay. And mama?

HA: Yes, Kaolulu from down here.

KM: Kaolulu, okay. Ohh.

HA: And then she had like Louie’s mama.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Then Kapule, Lucy, that’s Mona them. And then Uncle Joe.

KM: ‘Ae, Gaspar mā.

HA: Yes.

KM: Hmm. So you’ve lived down here all of your life really?

HA: Yes up, and down here.

KM: This is Waipuna‘ula or we’ve just moved into [looking at Register Map 1595]… You know it was really interesting just listening to you talk, describe a little bit this ‘āina here. So basically we’re I guess right around in this area or something? [pointing to area on map]

HA: Yes.

KM: Over here on the map. On the south edge of the bay, in the Kalama lands. I see so Kalamawai‘awa‘awa like that. Did your grandfather them have a… I know Ackermans, you folks, the family did some pineapple and stuff too, right?

HA: When they first came they were at Waipi‘o.

KM: Oh.

HA: Planting rice.

KM: ‘Oia?

HA: Yes. Then later went to Ka‘ū. My father was born in Ka‘ū, now what’s that pu‘u just past Nā‘ālehu, I mean Honu‘apo going toward Pāhala?

KM: Pu‘u‘enuhe and Makanau, Hīlea.

HA: Yes, with the Searles like that.

KM: That’s right in Hīlea.

HA: That’s our family see. And then we used to stop there and he used to sit on the car every time look mauka. So I used to tell my mama, “Mama, why we stop here every time when we go Hilo?” And he always, daddy go outside and sit down and look up that hill? She said, “That’s where daddy come from that’s where he was born and raised.”

KM: Ohh.

HA: And I said, “Oh yes!” [saying good morning to someone] That’s what I…

KM: So papa them was…?

HA: Yes, Ka‘ū.

KM: Ka‘ū.

HA: And later moved here.

KM: ‘Ae. At some point, didn’t Ackerman and Bruner them or something, did you ever hear about the Hala Canning Company like? Fruit canning you know they were into the pineapple and stuff like that? That was pau then by the time you were born?

HA: That was pau.

KM: Yes. Ohh.

HA: There was a lot of things that kind of happened, and my father he don’t talk about it you know what I mean.

KM: I see, I see.

HA: Because I think hurt, because you see my father took care of the lands they had all on that side, before. And the ones who were living in Honolulu and the younger ones they all went to school so he had one sister, Weeks, they kind of took care everything because you know they made butter and stuff shipped to Honolulu and things like that, you know. But, when the mother [Mrs. Ackerman] was dieing in Honolulu, we went on the Humu‘ula but when we got there was too late. By then the land was all pau… [describes division of land and family matters]

KM: Yes.

HA: So when people, like from Honolulu move back and they grumble and they say, “What about this, this…” I say, “Better you don’t talk, you don’t understand,” You know because I say, you know you don’t blame them for feeling hurt because now they come home, from five hundred acres, and then you end up you don’t even have a quarter acre. You have to go live on Bishop Estate land so you can’t very well blame them for getting mad.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: And then you know like the ones that I was raised with before, and their fathers worked for the ranch you know from my father them way before and then you know I was just telling my brother. You know just sitting down here talking on the stonewall, we were all kind of raised together for years. And they go Honolulu work, now they retired and come back and, “You know I meant to ask you whatever happened with the land?” I said. You know my daddy always used to tell me, “This side Jimmy, this side Walter,” And he said, “You remember you was small every time on the back of the horse you and daddy used to pick ‘ulu, you know.”

KM: Where was this?

HA: Down at Hōkūkano.

KM: Hōkūkano, oh.

HA: We go down go pick ‘ulu and whatever. Uncle Sam Ho‘omanawanui used to live down there.

KM: ‘Ae makai. So down in the Kāināliu section?

HA: Yes, yes. And then we used to go you know. Uncle Sam get some small pigs for sell, you know go down there put ‘em in the bag and whatever. Then when he asked I said, “Gee, I don’t know really what when happen I was too young.” Because he said, “You know after that, I no see you, so I just was wondering…” My father, he had about maybe forty percent or so, because there’s a trail going down. Where the medical center used to go straight all the way down…

KM: Yes, yes that’s right straight down.

HA: Straight down.

KM: Yes.

HA: And everybody went down those trails for go fishing, just like over here.

KM: Yes.

HA: You know.

KM: And that was the practice right of the families that lived within these given lands, yeah. They had the access from mauka, makai.

HA: All up here too, we had going up. See this trail right here, go straight up. I come down here go fishing with tūtū Simon, in the morning, early I go up because we milk cows up mauka.

KM: ‘Ae. Above the highway or a little below?

HA: Above Nāpo‘opo‘o School you get the trail, go right over the trail come out.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: We had some cows that we milked every morning. So if I come down here then my father meet me up. When I pau fishing about five o’clock, that’s where I walk go up, catch the trail and then go mauka. But everybody did that.

KM: What’s happening to the trails now?

HA: You see what people do, and this is in a lot of places, what they doing now, they’re removing the walls.

KM: Yes.

HA: And they plant something and then later people don’t know where the trail is.

KM: Right, right, so you’re loosing all of these traditional accesses?

HA: And people take advantage of people, I gave one…trails, I gave ten feet down, ten feet so people can drive in, supposed to be only three of us. You know a thousand feet down and we made the road, big money, make road you know concrete and everything. But then they tell you one thing, and before you know it the houses start to shoot out. Boom, boom, boom.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: Then the next person start grumbling. “Wow, look at this traffic!” I said “You see, people are not up and up.” They tell you one thing they turn around they tell, “Oh, I not there anymore, I sold ‘em.” But that’s not what they told you, “I building this house ‘cause I want to retire here.” They tell you one thing and then do something else.

KM: Yes.

HA: That’s why, that’s where the problem comes from. People are not true.

KM: ‘Ae. When you were young, so you lived basically right here. You fished out here all the time?

HA: Oh, yes.

KM: Did you go out as far as 3Kahauloa, Ke‘ei, Hōnaunau like that?

HA: You see like before with the old people, or when we had hō‘ike or stuff like that. The old-timers like Uncle Richard Pakiko, we go we start from Ke‘ei… It’s a different…we used the ‘upena pu‘u you know the regular cross net?

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: And then there was anchor old net they used and they tabu’d that later.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Called ‘upena ‘eke.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: It was like an ‘ōpelu net you know with plenty ‘īkoi you know so the thing stay open like this.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: And one ‘ōpelu stick on the bottom like this, yeah [gesturing].

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: And two weights. So you go with the canoe and you drop this net down right on the ku‘una, and then two canoe, you just drop your wing. And then the last…not too far. The ku‘una, they all go down, soon as you get ‘em straight the fish all go straight.

KM: Right, right.

HA: And you just drop and then on the top of this net you put one floater.

KM: ‘Ae. So just like holding the mouth open?

HA: Yes. So you go like this you huli your two canoes and come back and one guy in front he just throw stone like this [gestures throwing stones in water]. And the fish come down the two canoe come straight down, the first canoe reach there grab that and pull ‘em and this net closed. And the divers go down, pick up the ‘ōpelu stick, the two ends, and just throw ‘em, and seal this bag.

KM: Yes.

HA: But you know with the floater the ‘īkoi all that, the net stay wide open on the top.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: All the fish go down, to the bag.

KM: So they go into the bag, the ‘eke?

HA: Yes, into the ‘eke. And then you go back and you pick up your wing, and you pick ‘em up. And you see the first time Uncle Richard came back from Kaua‘i, he came with the ‘upena ‘eke. So he told me one morning, “Boy you get up early we go ‘upena ‘eke, early in the morning,” I look at him and I run home I tell, “Mama, Uncle tell, we go ‘upena ‘eke.” Then my brother went get up, he older he say, “I go.” Take Sonny, Sonny know. I used to go before when I was young, take care one canoe, the other take care of the other canoe. And then we go one time we go in the morning, and early we come home, then we start dividing, you know.

KM: Yes.

HA: Everybody get share. And the ones no more no kids, automatic going get half share.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: But everybody.

KM: That seems to be the style of the families here.

HA: Yes.

KM: And when someone went out fish like just when we fist walked out on the edge of your property was the akule fisherman.

HA: Akule, yes.

KM: So the people though before when they fish they go and what māhele i‘a?

HA: Oh yes, everything. Everything was shared. Just like when you, you know like over here they are used to fish ‘ōpelu. But when they come home you run down there help to bring the canoe up.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: But you come home with your ‘ōpelu.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Even over here had Blue Frazier he owned this house before and he go out get ahi so every time when he come in like that you know he call, “Help,” especially when he get ahi or whatever bring the canoe up, this was his place. And then everybody did that, that’s normal.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: That’s why I told people in all the years that I’ve dived on the other side, form young times I knew everybody Kailua all the old people, so loveable.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: We come home I open the cover from the canoe, I sit down little while and the old people come they go straight to the canoe they take what they like. And they come and they kiss me and they go home. Oh that’s what’s happening…because some no more husband.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: And sometimes vice-a-versa, but everybody got to eat you know.

KM: That’s right.

HA: But mama always used to tell me you give, you give, plenty heart!

KM: Yes. Hā‘awi aloha?

HA: Yes.

KM: And then always comes back.

HA: Oh always, always. Then had some ladies that I knew since we were kids and they had plenty kids but their husbands couldn’t swim or something you know. They come, and we…I just call them “Hui, come down,” And they come inside and they say, “Oh brother, how much?” I said “no, no, just take half ka‘au.” “Ho brother plenty red fish.” “Here take some red fish,” they take half ka‘au. And they come and kiss me, “Hey brother mahalo,” and they go. But, as I say I’ve always done it you know what I mean. It makes you feel good.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Like this lady who worked for my mother she was the same thing. She was very strong lady she had a lot of kids but she took good care of me. I used to get headache, sinus from the water, and then she come early in the morning put medicine in my nose. She come, she put ‘ōlena.

KM: ‘Ōlena, yes.

HA: You know I told people, “That ‘ōlena when take care of me for twenty years.” I told them. I go work I rub, rub my head but you know they take care. She said, “Yes, I got to take care of you, bumby I not going eat fish.”

KM: [chuckles]

HA: That was great, great.

KM: You were mentioning on the point on Kahauloa Point basically here, that there’s an old canoe landing right over there. This coral, the lady walking now I guess kind of.

HA: Yes, yes. There was canoes there, there were canoes right here too see right this high rock here?

KM: Yes.

HA: You see right here?

KM: Yes.

HA: That’s another awa too, right there. This awa was made, this awa when this man Blue Frazier bought this house here had a rock in the center. Had the rock blown out and then he made this you know.

KM: I see, I see. Now, your tūtū Annie?

HA: Yes, Au. She lived right here that was Desha, that’s where Uncle Steven lived.

KM: Yes, yes okay. And you said that there used to be a pond there?

HA: The pond was next, it used to be John Gaspar’s.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: He owned that property behind the house, he owned that and he was a school teacher way back. And also the one makai, Uncle…I forget his last name, I was only a kid at that time. Then later, Uncle Richard Pakiko had it. But then the tidal wave came and took all of these other houses.

KM: ‘Ae. But that pond over ther you had a recollection it was brackish, but good water?

HA: It’s good brackish water but it’s supposed to go further back.

KM: ‘Ae. And your recollection, you heard that it was a special bathing place?

HA: According to the old people they said “there was tabu that was for the ladies to ‘au‘au.”

KM: Ahh, uh-hmm.

HA: And that was their private bath. Just tabu and that was only for ladies. And I’m pretty sure this water went all the way back to the back of where the next property.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: I think, and I meant to ask my father, when we were kids, if there was a plank when we used to go down, had Uncle Alec Gaspar. He used to live makai there, Uncle Joe’s brother.

KM: Yes.

HA: And I’m pretty sure had one plank that we used to walk across.

HaA: When __________ was living there, it did have. Yes, you walk right across.

HA: So you know that’s the thinkg you know you kind of poina as the years go by you know but…[shaking his head]

KM: Did you used to walk along the coastline out to Ke‘ei too?

HA: You see everybody mostly even like cousin Lawrence and…

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: And Lawrence, Lawrence especially everybody went this way.

KM: Along the old alanui-alahele?

HA: Yes. Went to Kahauloa then up, up along Keawaiki, Ko‘opapa and then right into Ke‘ei.

KM: Right into Ke‘ei so where uncle Louie mā’s house was before?

HA: Yes. Everybody went, where you go down the hill going down Ke‘ei at Ko‘opapa, go down there.

KM: Uh-hmm.

: But not one time I told her [his wife], “take me down there at Ko‘opapa, drop me off and then come home. I going catch ‘a‘ama and then you can come through.” But then it was cut off, it’s in the ocean now.

KM: So that old alahele has been changed out and cut out too?

HA: Yes. That’s the part because everybody went through. Like you know when we were kids the people used to come through here.

KM: Uh-hmm.

HA: Walk through here and where Walter Kahiwa them stay, the next lot and then over. Because had one gate you know over there. My mama used to walk, wait for her cousin, they all used to walk to church. The small church over here.

KM: Yes.

HA: So, when mama was alive everything was fine, the gates everything was there, even for the church property. The minute mama died, boom, the gates were gone! The alanui used to go in. When mama was, they wouldn’t fool around because every Sunday her and the cousins they all walk to church together.

KM: Walk to church. Was this the little church that was used?

HA: Yes because the big church because of the earthquake you know.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: Fell down so built this small church and Uncle Isaac Kapule them and everybody.

KM: ‘Ae. I was just trying to see there’s on the other map I left for you, Register Map 1445 you’ll see, it’s this one here. It has…it’s really a nice map [opening up map] ‘cause it shows, this map is from 1882. It’s really neat you know. The old Alanui Aupuni you know the main road mauka not the trail. But you see like here even, you know, Kalua’s house, Kupou lets see I was trying to think. Then over here here’s at Nāpō‘opo‘o, Sala’s house, he also had a church out here evidently. You know, Simmerson and then up here is Kāhikolu like that comes into…that’s the point so this would be, this is near somewhere where we are. Got to be.

HA: Yes, yes, right there.

KM: Very interesting. Yes, that’s the point there.

HA: Yes and right in the back, goes like this. And this is Kahauloa already.

KM: ‘Ae, Kahauloa.

HA: Kahauloa, and then Ko‘opapa.

KM: Ko‘opapa yeah. ‘Cause then you come in Hale-o-Lono and…

HA: Hale-o-Lono right.

KM: Yes, mea Pānui mā?

HA: Yes.

KM: The old heiau out here? You hear of Palemanō?

HA: Yes, yes Palemanō. We…they found some…we buried some that came up to the church.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: ‘Cause we used to take care of that.

KM: Yes.

HA: We buried some that they found down Maluhia and whatever.

KM: Yes.

HA: And you know they said oh they going come from Honolulu and they going bury ‘em like that. But you know they can’t just come and do that so we go up and we dig ‘em and we bury ‘em.

KM: Yes, yes. That’s important you know and when I finish up the study that we are doing for the Ke‘ei lands here just a small collection of histories. That same time when I was talking about Kekūhaupi‘o and him swimming at a place called Waipiele…

HA: Uh-hmm.

KM: In that same year 1908 they had an article about Palemanō also, Kamaiko is the name of the heiau. That they found po‘o kanaka and stuff in there.

HA: That’s what we were kind of looking when we were picking up stones for make that Henry Ōpūkaha‘ia memorial, we was just picking upstones that’s what we were trying to look for was this one here, in the back.

KM: ‘Ae.

HaA: Uh-hmm.

HA: By Willy, where Thompson has now [thinking], Nāinoa.

KM: Nāinoa yes, yes.

HA: ‘Cause there’s one other road over there.

KM: Yes. Here it says [looking at map] Limukoko Point. Did you gather limu or anything at that time?

HA: Yes, we used to go over here. But kind of, you know, this place here, you have to be very careful. We go, go pick limu, plenty limu kohu.