Ackerman, Howard with Harriet Ackerman (Part 2)

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.

KM: Hmm.

HA: But kind of rough water, no.

KM: Yes.  And you know they say this is a very famous place, Keomo with Moku‘ōhai.

HA/: Yes.

KM: The old battleground like that.

HA: Yes.  A lot of people fish off there too.  We used to dive all through here too.

KM: So go along?

HA: Yes.  And Louie and I we dived this whole area.  And I always go to shoot fish, and she
 [gesturing to his wife] go make limu.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: You know, and like sometimes when she go catch ‘a‘ama and she come back and she can smell night time.  So in day time we go, then we come back and cannot find her.  We go ask people if they seen here, “We seen her early this morning she was outside here.”  And we go find and we find her.  And then sometimes she find ‘um but in the water.  Sometimes limu stays in the water, you know cannot find ‘em.  And then Louie says “no more.”  She says, “No cuz, get.”  And she goes and she find ‘em.

KM: Yes.  You can smell the limu?

HaA: Uh-hmm.

HA: She can smell ‘em.  Even like Honokōhau like that she walk on the sand and she see the limu then she look around.  She knows got to come from some place so she swim out to the breakers and that’s where she find ‘em in the breakers.

KM: It seems like all of you folks, Ke‘ei section, Nāpo‘opo‘o vicinity were all family, yeah?

HA: Yes.

KM: Everyone was all pili somehow you know.

HA: Yes.  You know, funny about these waters.  Like Ke‘ei, just like they know where you are, they have to accept who you are.  Even when I first took her Kāināliu Beach I said, “You watch out this place can kaukau people.”

KM: Ahh.

HA: But with her, the first time she go, but you know her she no maka‘u she just go couple of times she get kind of bust up, until it accepts you.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: You know even we go at night, or catch ‘a‘ama in the rough water, “I said you go up, you go up, the water it comes from behind you.”

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: I said you fall in the water pau you going make you not going get no way of coming up.  You know lot of people drown.  I said, “Cannot come up.”  They said, “No.”  I said, “Cannot come up.”  I know he cannot come up because the tide is up when the tide is up you go you touch the stone certain places and you go right back out.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: You can never come up you have to make up your mind to swim to the next point or something because you cannot come up.

KM: Yes.  Wow! …But interesting you know, to see some of the old family names.

HA: Yes all family.  You know my cousin Lawrence he lived with the grandfather, old man Pānui.  But you know he had one cousin Rebecca, Lawrence’s sister but you know he had thirteen black dogs.  So he set the ‘upena by himself then he whistle, and all these thirteen black dogs hit the water and that’s their kāpeku.

KM: For real!  Draw up the fish?

HA: Chase the fish.

KM: Wow!  Too much yeah!

HA: Thirteen black dogs.

KM: Wow!

HA: You never see one mongoose, they pick ‘em up.  I remember he was working for Maluhia and he found these thirteen little black dogs.  And was good for the girls way back then, because Lawrence has unreal eyes to see, terrific fisherman, and his feel like that in the breakers, pa‘a you know.

KM: ‘Oia.

HA: Pa‘a.

KM: Wow!

HA: And we used to go that’s what I tell, “You see this finger all crooked,” I throw net with this man and you know that’s how, that’s how good he was.  So good, he was.

KM: Wow!

HA: But the girls that came at those times you know, and wait for he pau work with the throw net and they used to carry bag for him and they learned a lot.  You know like how to look the fish, the angle you know.  We’ve gone to [thinking] Ka‘alu‘alu.

KM: ‘Ae.  Ka‘alu‘alu, Ka‘ū?

HA: Yes, Ka‘ū.  “Cousin us go look squid,” so we go look he‘e.  One old man was there see.  “Ah, you fella don’t know.”  He gets mad, he talks very fluent Hawaiian.  So he tell the old man, “If I no can see, you no can see.”

KM: Ahh.  [chuckles]

HA: The old man when try, no can.  Lawrence was mad, but Lawrence if he tell you something you better believe it.

KM: Uh-hmm.

HA: He’s very good at it, and you know he had a good teacher you know the old people because they were raised with the grandfather, you know.

KM: Yes, that’s right.  And that old man Louie Pānui, the old man you know, was so knowledgeable about the history of the land and tūtū Kalokuokamaile you know.

HA: Yes.

KM: I see some of the old accounts, ‘cause they wrote in the newspapers all the time.  Wonderful stories.

HA: Yes.  Because you know they were the deacons of the church, I remember when we were kids when were kolohe, everything is in Hawaiian you know everybody used to gather there early in the morning.

KM: Yes.

HA: So when you make kolohe or something you know, the “Kona Echoes,” the ears all awake, and then all in Hawaiian and we sitting dowon.  And a lot of us don’t understand too much, so we’re just sitting there like fools [chuckling].

KM: Ahh.

HA: But before everybody talk Hawaiian.  My father, people used to say…my father he don’t like people who come to the house because our house we always had party, but he don’t like nothing to go out.  When he come home he see someone like that, he don’t trust, from there on he’ll only talk Hawaiian to my mother and the both of them.  And like this lady Mrs. Hoapili.

KM: ‘Ae, Alice?

HA: Alice Hoapili.  She used to grumble because she comes from Maui.

KM: [chuckling]

HA: And she wanted she said, “I just love to go your house.”  Only trouble you know that father he always talking Hawaiian and she cannot understand.

KM: [chuckling]

HA: Alice Hoapili her and mama were very close.

KM: Oh, yes.

HA: She started to teach right before my mother.

KM: ‘Ae, oh I see.

HA: I think she started 1917, and then mama I think, started 1919, at where the library is now.

KM: ‘Ae.  The old school?

HA: The old school.  And then they taught up here at Nāpo‘opo‘o School.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: … But oh the sad you know, all the fishing grounds before the old people, I go with tūtū Simon we go out hook ‘ū‘ū at night.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Mark all your lines.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: And I don’t know how they really know the bottom.  They tell you, you hold four fathoms, you hold five fathoms everything was stone before.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: You jerk you hemo, and we go only until eleven o’clock, get enough fish for everybody, then you come home.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: If the ‘ūpalu bite, one not too bad, two bite, he go over three that old man get hot then he pound ‘em on the canoe until the thing fly off because he’d rather catch ‘ū‘ū, ‘āweoweo.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: There’s so many things.  Like tūtū Simon, he was on the Humuula for so many years, and when he came home, when he used to come Kailua then he used to call mama you know for send one car down pick him up.  But then I used to fish with him, very good, very good.  All his spots, and sometimes these old people they argue.

KM: Uh-hmm.

HA: Like old man George Moku like that, about sports.  He tell me, “Boy go home to tūtū Annie, cut bait bring outside here.”  Then the two of them go.  He tell me, “You wait for tūtū man over here.”  They go out Ka‘awaloa, go out catch fish.  Because sometime he tell they stay right under your nose.  You know like ‘ōpelu he said I can go right over there by the monument, and one pull I can come back, five ka‘au or something.  He get hot, he tell ‘um they’re under their nose.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: That’s what we learned.  You know, everybody before what you knew, you knew and you wouldn’t spread it around.

KM: ‘Ae.  They took care of their ko‘a yeah and kept it kind a…

HA: Yes, really.  I tell him and that’s why…you know me and Lionel used to stay with tūtū, but if Lionel going outside, go look he‘e or he going by himself he ain’t going take me you know.

KM: [chuckling]

HA: That’s true you know.  But you see everybody kept that you know.  Like cousin Anini, uncle Joe’s oldest son.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: He used to go out sometime, but then he take some of the young kids for go hold canoe.  But what the younger ones were doing they were land marking ‘em.

KM: Ahh.

HA: You know and that’s why you got to be very careful.

KM: So as a fisherman you know you really was in your best interest that you protect your ko‘a?

HA: Sure.

KM: You know because that’s where you were ma‘a to go?

HA:  You see the thing is the people don’t clean their holes like the lobster.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Like Ke‘ei before, right inside the breakers, had these rocks before.  And it’s hard to go and Lawrence…Louie’s younger sister Rebecca, she was Mrs. Andrade, and I go down there and I go call her that time she was single, young.  And come from ma uka I said I going outside pick up lobster.  The boys from ma uka said, “I go, I go hold bag for you.”  I tell, “No, I going take my cousin with me.”

KM: Uh-hmm, yes.

HA: I say, “You folks no can handle the breakers, you folks not used to the breakers.”  I said, “No, I take my cousin with me,” so the both of us.  “But she one girl.”  I said, “She better than all you folks.”

KM: [chuckling]

HA: But you know we go out and we only go for kaukau, and we just go out and we make.  Just like with the fishing we only go for make.  And even with the akule before same thing.  Everything was like the same you know.

KM: Yes.

HA: And now, nowadays you know everybody’s head is like one cash register you know.

KM: Yes, yes.  And you know and see that’s the thing I suppose there’s only so much you know…before when you went out you knew you were going to get fish right.  Now, what, different?

HA: It’s different.  It’s so different people, people’s thinking is different.

KM: Yes.  I like your explanation, their heads like one cash register you know, “thinking of the kenikeni.”

HA: Yes.  You know like when we used to stay on the lighthouse area before we go and sometime I work kind of late so I’m the last canoe come over at night.

KM: From here?

HA: No, no from Kailua.

KM: Kailua.

HA: You know but we go we stay right by the lighthouse we only, you know before used to take us so long to get there, the motors were small.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: Took you long to get there.  And then you were choosy because we never had all this ice to take care of the fish.

KM: Right, right.

HA: So you kaula‘i, if you going stay there for few days like when we stayed.  When we used to go on the other side of Minoli‘i you know.

KM: ‘Ae.  Kapu‘a section?

HA: Kapu‘a section you know, and we go outside…what’s the name of that place now [thinking] oh boy… Anyway, you know if you going stay couple of days, you got to come back and cut and dry.  Cut and dry.  And when you ready for come home, you get little bit fish.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: But you only took what you wanted.

KM: When you were drying, where did you get your salt from out there and you made?

HA: We did.  We always took you know like ginger.  But you can pick up salt you know, on the Pāhoehoe.

KM: Yes.  ‘Cause you mentioned Kalaemanō like out Ka‘ūpūlehu?

HA: Yes, yes.  Kalaemanō, all those areas all had places where you can ‘au‘au.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Always get brackish water.  All along that whole coast same like this side, same thing.

KM: Yes.

HA: Every place you know.  And you know we tried not to leave ‘em kāpulu.  You know, you got to mālama these places, you no can kāpulu.

KM: Yes.

HA: And we stayed all those places from one end to the other end.  But those days I told ‘em you know, I tell people, even our section below Kāināliu Beach, I tell people you can just stand up and shoot fish.

KM: Yes.

HA: You know, people chase the fish, but we were taught to just let the fish come to you.

KM: Come to you… So you could in those days…?

HA: Yes.

KM: You no need go after ‘em?

HA: No you don’t.  And then you only shot what you wanted.  You know like my nephews before, when they go with me I tell ‘em, “the main thing about diving is shooting being accurate it’s not the depth.”  Because the depth will always come natural eh?

KM: Yes.

HA: You know as you get feeling better, you get deeper and deeper and you don’t damage yourself and then you’d be accurate.  I say you only look at the head then you only going shoot the head but you look at the whole body then you might shoot ‘em on the body but you only look at his head.  You know what I mean…

KM: Yes.

HA: And it’s simple things like that just to kind of tell ‘em.  Sometime they say, “Why you tell ‘em that?”  I say, “You know why, because when you say something it stays in the back of their head.”

KM: That’s right.

HA: You know, I talk to a lot of people about conservation, they talking about something, “Oh, we got to correct this problem over here.”  Then I just tell ‘em, “If I was to solve that problem, I would go to the sources of supply, I don’t wait until it comes to millions, I’d break it down into stages.”  I said, “But I don’t know how you folks do it.”  They say, “Why you talk like that to them?”  I said, “You know why because now they going home and think about it.”

KM: That’s right, plant seeds yeah?

HA: Yes.  It’s simple things, you know like the kids, like we always had, young boys came when I would kālua pigs.  We killed and everything the same day.  We had about half a dozen to kālua, we’d kill the six pigs and kālua.  And we kālua a lot of pigs.  Sometime I start off with what happen maybe supposed to be only four maybe we end up with nine.

KM: Hmm.

HA: There’s no more room I put ‘em on the top you know my father he get mad he go home and he’s grumbling… But where does the heat go?  Heat rises.  And I teach them how to build imu and I always tell them, “Whatever you do, it’s you the one doing it.  So you have to have confidence in yourself you know.”  Whatever you do and I said, “This is not one stove where you can burn the fire out.”

KM: That’s right.

HA: And if the fire is low you cannot turn ‘em up.  So you make the fire hot and from there you can correct it, you take care of your heat.  That’s the only thing you have to know.  “But how long you going burn ‘em?”  That’s how tight you make ‘em…and everything is common sense…You have to have confidence in yourself.  So the ones I taught they asked me about anything I say whatever I know, they know.  Whatever we went, we shoot fish with the kids I said, “You clean all your fish, if not you no come.”

KM: Yes.

HA: You know no take ‘em home for mama.  We go hunt we do the same thing.  And all the kids that came and stayed with us and you know things like that, we taught is not to abuse.

KM: Yes.

HA: You know we caught one pig I said, “Now we go home.”  We used to come home early in the morning, we come home one pig we skin ‘em, hang ‘em up.  A couple of young boys with us.  We had breakfast then we go down and we shoot some fish.  Like get one now he’s older than the rest and he said, “You know the first job I get?”  Boy, you know your job?”  “Yes.”  “Make the fire.”  First, before we jump in the water.

KM: ‘Ae.  ‘Cause you knew you were coming home [chuckling].

HA: Yes, because you not going stay in the water.  You not there to shoot the whole ocean you know what I mean.

KM: Yes.

HA: You figure, when the fire is down we come out.  When you fish, that’s enough.

KM: Yes.

HA: Like Pila.

KM: Keli‘i?

HA: Yes.  That man for his age he was so accurate and he tell me, “You come pick me up early tomorrow morning.  Only us two now, only two.”  “Okay.”  He tell me the kids from Honolulu called.  They all going to one gathering, baseball game or something.  They need fish, “oh, okay.”  So we go down Kawanui, and that’s his ground, Hawanui.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: We go light throw a couple of big kiawe we walk.  We jump in the water by Kawanui and go across, come across the cliffs, by the time we come back to the fireplace, the line full, his one full we on our own we come back throw a few fish on the fire, eat.  Put ‘em in the cooler, tie ‘em down everything.  We come up with the jeep, hit ma uka, throw ‘em in my car, go straight down the airport.

KM: Wow!

HA: His son-in-law work down the airport.

KM: Amazing!

HA: Straight in Honolulu.

KM: Gee!

HA: That’s the good days.  Because this man he only shooting the fish when fat.  Like when we used to go to the lighthouse a lot, lot of boys never know that ground very well.  We shoot one section from here to the fence, “Oh, ‘nough, ‘nough, out of the water in the boat, in the boat.”  They say, “Plenty fish over here.”  “No, no if you going shoot fish, put ‘em in a different cooler.”

KM: Yes.

HA: Why?  ‘Cause over here I got to fish.  You got to know the area.

KM: Yes.

HA: I remember Pila, we used to go Kalaemanō go shoot fish and one time we were going over Kalaemanō, and on the way over he tell me, “Boy, I hear story the kole, big kole.”  I said, “Yes, somebody tell you that kind story.”  He tell me, “Yes.”  He said, “You the guy know ‘em.”  I said, “Who went tell you that funny story?”

KM: [chuckling]

HA: He tell me, Alfred Delpino.  We used to dive together years ago.  I said, “Yes, he told you that kind story?”  He tell me, “Yes, you ask him.”  So on the way over I tell him, “You make all your things ready.”  So going over I told Ako, go inside here, I said, “Right here, right here.”  They all said, “We going with pops.”  I said, “No, you folks all stay on the boat, no, no, no, no.”  We go down the other side Ka‘ūpūlehu poke fish.  I said, “Don’t worry about it he’ll be fine back there.”  When he came back, we see the smile, the people see the kole big.

KM: Wow!

HA: I said because this is the only section we have you know on that coast, all they way up.  The kole maka onaona.

KM: Maka onaona, ‘ae.

HA: Big like that.  Because only Kohala and other places get the big kind kole like that.  But over here no more only certain sections you know you see the kole big.  Like for the pali before when we pick we only dive along the pali [pointing to the Kealakekua section].

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: The kole in the pali is small but ‘ono, soft.  For ‘ai maka like that, that’s the best.

KM: Yes, oh.

HA: And even the pāku‘iku‘i like that you go, plenty fish, but the people just ‘ānunu.

KM: ‘Ae.  Now that’s the pilikia you know if you keep taking too much, too much you know, and you don’t let it ho‘omaha too…

HA: …Just like out here, plenty before, we take, then now, the people don’t go day time they go at night now so what they cannot get they’ll get it at night.  It’s going to wipe out everything.  Even like you look Kohala now plenty people, plenty fish Kohala.  But now you see the fish is in the market, like pāku‘iku‘i in the market and no spear mark, got to be with net.

KM: Yes.

HA: But if you ‘upena ku‘u, you cross.  You have to catch the pāku‘iku‘i the pāku‘iku‘i going wait until the other fish hit.  The minute he shine the pāku‘iku‘i going turn around come back.

KM: [chuckles]

HA: Unless he hit and the net goes down the pāku‘iku‘i going over.

KM: Ahh.

HA: But the pāku‘iku‘i not one lōlō fish.  So how they going catch ‘em.  They got to go at night because the pāku‘iku‘i don’t sleep in shallow water.  I tell the people, “When you dive night time you see pāku‘iku‘i?”  I bet you no see pāku‘iku‘i, because the pāku‘iku‘i sleep outside deep so how they catch ‘em they got to go out there and catch ‘em with the net.  You see these little things that happen.

KM: Yes.  Well it’s like the technology has made it so easy you don’t need to have any smarts too, yeah?

HA: You know before when you dive, free dive you’re accurate because you’re not going to go down forty feet and miss your shot.

KM: Yes.

HA: So, I tell them, “You got to know what you’re going to shoot before you leave the surface and be accurate.”  What’s the sense of going down forty feet if you going miss?

KM: Yes.

HA: But I don’t know everything changes they making it too easy they make all this easier things, make the fins bigger.

KM: Yes.  Out swim the fish [chuckling]

HA: And then they have these divers, and they’re scouting the grounds at the same time.  And the tropical fish is the worse one the State is so far in the back, that the tropical fish people been taking fish for the past twenty years.  They went wipe out this whole area.  Kāināliu beach used to have so much fish.  I used to tell people, people would tell me, “Oh brother I like pāku‘iku‘i.”  You don’t have to dive you can just stand right on the rock like that and just shoot ‘em like that.  And I’m telling you, you go down there now, you only see humuhumu.  “Oh but it’s coming back.”  I said, “If you had a thousand fish over here and you took away nine hundred and then all of a sudden you let ‘em rest and now went back, but now get two hundred inside.”  “But the fish is coming back.”  I said, “Yes but how about the other eight hundred you took before that?”

KM: Yes.

HA: “Where is it, it’s gone!”

KM: So the amount has really changed?

HA: Yes.  And they tell, “It’s coming back.”  I said, “Like hell, who you think you talking too?”

KM: Yes.  Well, and that’s the one thing about when we were talking earlier about these maps and the Boundary Commission, you know.  So many of the kūpuna said you know, “This ‘āina, the fishery extends out to the sea,” they had to know the boundaries of their land because each people in their ahupua‘a were responsible in the old days, to take care.  So you knew how much you could take right?  If you took all today what do you eat tomorrow?

HA: Yes, but you see what is happening now with boundary lines when the equipment goes in, they’re scattering the wall.

KM: ‘Ae, ‘oki and cut ‘em up.

HA: You see that’s why because now they going say, “What wall, I didn’t see no wall, I never see no fence.”

KM: Yes.

HA: Because it’s gone.  I seen things over here people they come and they ask me, and I tell ‘em how big it is you know around here because I kind of used to this.  So they ask me, “What happened?”  Well, the other side when claim ‘em.  I said because the surveyor didn’t find the original pin, so he started making his own stations and shooting from there.

KM: That’s right.

HA: So now you have all these pins.  So they ask me, “Do you know my boundary?”  Oh sure I take ‘em to their boundary, so I tell ‘em “Okay when I go home I tie one ribbon up there.”  I say all these lots supposed to be because they were all one lot, and later they went get ‘em back.  So they ask me well how many do I have, because you short quarter acre, the balance is over here.

KM: That’s right.

HA: And there’s so many like that you know that went wrong.

KM: You know like you said the old walls and where the old pā hale like that for the lots.  And you ‘oki those, everything gets changed then and then they put a wall where shouldn’t be like across your old trail or something.

HA: There’s so many that’s happening you know.  Like below Honalo you know.  And I went down after so many years one time going back down, we had these problem these boys took off so they asked me for go look for ‘em.   So I went down and I looked for ‘um in lot of places that people don’t go no more you know.

KM: Hmm.

HA: All the old kuleanas.  And I went down there and I was sad to say this when I came up I talked to one of the land owners.  I said, you know when these people come back from Honolulu, the old people die.  How they going to get in, they locked out, they locked out.  Because these people took the trails, they took all the trails.  And then the ones like down Keauhou, coming into Kawanui from the Keauhou side.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: You see had the old trail, yeah?

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: So they went talk to the landowners inside, if they can move the trail to the ma uka.