Ackerman, Howard with Harriet Ackerman (Part 3)

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: That’s right.

HA: And that was the biggest mistake.  Well now they put one lock on ‘em.  I said, “Yes because it’s no longer the trail.”  Now the trail is no longer there.  This is their property if they want to put a lock on they going put a lock and you can’t get in.  Because you folks when agree to give up the trail and that’s where the pilikia came from.

KM: Yes.

HA: So they said well, they never know that.  I said, “That’s what happens you know.”  Because these things like that and I said, “They so smooth talking, they say ‘no worry, no worry, no worry…’”  Yes, no worry, yeah right.

KM: [chuckles]

HA: You know now, nalowale.

KM: Nalowale.  You folks had no problem in your youth, walking?

HA: No, no.

KM: …along Ke‘ei out as far as Hōnaunau like that?

HA: No problem.  Because people come through here, walk like that, “Hui, good morning aunty, good morning aunty.”  And you know like us even until today, I work I come over, light company come here eat lunch whoever coming.  The County come over here eat lunch, you know.  Everybody until today they still come.  I never stopped anybody and my nephew like come over from Honolulu I said, “Don’t you kick anybody out of there when you folks are here you know what I mean, because they are welcome to come here and eat lunch.”

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: They no kāpulu, it’s always been open just tell ‘em to come.

KM: It’s so nice, as long as they mālama.

HA: They mālama.  I said “From grandma’s time, everybody was the same way.  So don’t change nothing.”

KM: Yes.

HA: …You know, I come a little hūhū at times but you just got to kind of… Because to me when people go to make the changes it only gets worse.  But what’s happening now what the County is okaying, and what the State is okaying a lot of times, along our shorelines that’s terrible, you know.

KM: Yes.  So to you it’s really important that the shoreline areas be taken care of?

HA: You know now, already people having hard time.  The State don’t…where are all these people going later?  Now look Manini‘ōwali and all that area it’s all gone already now where are they going?

KM: Yes.

HA: You know they went get rid of ‘um fast, because they know people are going to grumble later.  So now they get rid of it fast before these things happen.  Now, how about their kids, their grandkids, where they going?  Where can they go camping?  Like this one girl I was just talking to, “Ho, you know uncle lucky we have boat, we have to go by boat and go stay down Kūki‘o.  Uncle we no can go down by the car, lucky we have one boat so we go by ocean.”  You know like Manini‘ōwali, had one family from way back.  Every summer they used to stay there, you know.  We never used to bother them we always used to see them and they always kept it nice and clean, and then we used to just past them when we stay Kūki‘o.  You see everybody, the commercial fisherman before, the ones on canoe, before used to stay at Kūki‘o, the old house used to be there.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: And then they fish at night they sleep, and then they go Kona crab or something.  Practically everybody did that, you know all the Japanese and whoever.

KM: Yes.

HA: But now what, what can you do now?  You know lot of the old Japanese people I talk to they knew everybody who lived there.

KM: Yes.

HA: We used to go in from Mahai‘ula, my cousin Wilama Weeks, he used to go inside there and fix the engines like that, the old man Polto used to stay there with… [thinking]

KM: Annie?

HA: Yes.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Oh, you know eh?

KM: Yes.

HA: Because you know one time I went over there and you know and I came home and I told mama, “Oh, we stayed Makalawena…at the house.”  She said, “What house, there’s no more house there?”  I said, “No,” anyway we started to argue.  She said, “No, how that house look like?”  I just told her, she said, “No, that’s the schoolhouse.”  That’s the only building the rest is burned.  She told me the next time you go back you go by the hardwood tree she said that’s where everybody’s buried.

KM: Yes, that’s right.

HA: Yes, because see her and daddy they were pretty good friends with Francis Brown.  You know old man Francis Brown?

KM: I see, yes.

HA: He used to come inside anchor every time come up here drink.  Him and his boys he had the two fastest speed boats, before.

KM: Yes, yes that’s right.

HA: And then he and Wilama was good friends too.  I used to go with Wilama before we used to go into Mahai‘ula before we used to fix the windmill.

KM: Uh-hmm.

HA: And he always used to go back for clean the graves in the back.  What was the name [thinking] the people who owned Mahai‘ula?

KM: Ka‘elemakule?

HA: Ka‘elemakule.

KM: John Ka‘elemakule.

HA: John.  We used to go behind there go clean the graves.

KM: Behind?  The back of Pāhoehoe on the rocks?

HA: Yes, yes.

KM: The old cave?

HA: Yes.  We used to go in the back there.

KM: Yes, oh.

HA: Then Wilama, he said, “Oh, they sold this place, 1932.”

KM: Yes.

HA: Wilama used to go all over, there was another Japanese man used to go with us [thinking] and he used to be the cook and he knew everything.  I told him, “Gee, how old you?”  He told me, “When I was a young boy I was the cook on the boat.” Japan ship, he came to Hawai‘i was so beautiful he said he went…

KM: Jump?

HA: Skip, jump ship.

KM: [chuckling]

HA: And he said he used to go around there he knew everybody who lived there way back.  Way back in the early ‘20s and then all the way over.  He picked up so much knowledge from these old people you know.

KM: Yes.  It’s so important though you know to talk story, and hear these little recollections.  You know it’s really neat you know this whole idea.  I get this real sense of family, community you know…Ke‘ei the families between here and what you know.  Everyone just seems you folks worked together and it was interesting you said ‘ōpelu even for the big nets that they hui together buy the nets like that.

HA: Always even, with the akule everybody before…

KM: Akule.

HA: The Leslies like that, they never had enough money to buy all these nets so they went to all the merchants.

KM: I see.

HA: They all threw in their money and my father and everybody else threw in their money.  And so everybody was entitled and they had old man Ushimura, he used to be a judge before, he was a lawyer.  He was kind of the honcho who took care of the payments and the sales and stuff.

KM: Oh.  Japanese man?

HA: Yes.

KM: Oh.  Ushi…?

HA: Ushimura.

KM: Ushimura, oh.

HA: And he lived where the dentist, Nakamaro’s, that house.

KM: Oh.

HA: He and my father was good friends you know that man.  And all the good kama‘āina Japanese from ma uka here.

KM: Yes.

HA: Because lot of them they worked for the mill.  And the people from Kailua used to live here because, American Factors used to be here.

KM: That’s right back and forth that’s right Hackfeld, American Factors.

HA: Because lot of them they used to tell me, “You know we all family.”  They said, “We all used to live Nāpo‘opo‘o.”  They used to come in here for go dive for he‘e like that.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: You know, down here.

KM: Was good he‘e grounds out here?

HA: We don’t have the kind of he‘e grounds all in the pu‘u.  You got to come mālama, no can make kāpulu inside.

KM: Yes [chuckling]

HA: That’s going to happen with all the lobster and stuff.

KM: Yes.

HA: They said you don’t clean, I tell people, “When you hemo, you clean.”  Because that’s when the eel go back in.

KM: Yes.

HA: That’s when he go in and he stay in.  And I tell you know the problem before people if you go and the lobster stay inside you leave ‘em alone.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Because now you can’t get ‘em out you only going kill ‘em and you going and then the eel going in.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: So you wait until it comes out or something.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: We used to go early in the morning before the sun come up we go down the breaker and the lobster still outside, walking.

KM: Wow!

HA: So you only go you catch maybe one, two then pau.

KM: Pau.

HA: That’s enough.

KM: Was there someone, when you were young to teenage years like that was there still someone out here who was sort of looked to as sort of the lawai‘a nui, the main fisherman who when the ‘ōpelu were going or akule kū you know?

HA: The Leslies with the akule, like with the nets.  Different ones like… [thinking] Uncle Pakiko you know, different ones.

KM: Pakiko?

HA: Pakiko lived down here, and tūtū Simon… [thinking] Kalua.

KM: Kalua.

HA: You see all those Kaluas, even if you know the Kalua girls some of them back here from Honolulu.  They were all from here, even the Kalimas, the big Kalimas Jessie, Honey them, they all from here.  They were close with my mother.

KM: Ahh.

HA: And before they come they serenade, and when they pau, they come park their bus in our yard.  They’d stay down for a week or so…

KM: Did you have a favorite song for this area?

HA: No.  There was a lot of entertainers down here, good entertainers…

KM: Nice though.  Sounds like a wonderful community, such a beautiful place.

HA: When you born here, and they come up to the church, and they looking at the graves.  “Hui, looking for tūtū’s grave?”  They looked at me like that, ‘cause they don’t know who I am.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: I never seen these girls in my life too.  They said, “How you know I’m looking for tūtū’s grave?”  I see you walking around they said, “Do you know who my tūtū is?”  I say, “Oh, yeah.”  “How you know?”  I say, “I know you looking for tūtū, she’s up there by the corner by the wall.”  “Oh thank you.”  And I said, “It’s only easy to tell, only easy to tell.”  …  I was telling somebody last night he and I used to drink with this guy Pila Keli‘i very good friends he and I used to be cowboys together and when he first came from Japan he worked for Paris.  And then you know everything was free then.  Milk was free, kill their own meat, the pigs so much pigs you live on all the wild pork.  And he always talk about Uncle Sam.  So they asked me, “Who is Uncle Sam?”  “Uncle Sam Ho‘omanawanui.”  “That’s  his uncle?”  “Oh yeah.  If you tell ‘em otherwise you got to get up every morning six o’clock in the morning to fight ‘em.”

KM: [chuckling]

HA: That’s how this man is.  He came, he worked for the ranch only fifteen years old.  Uncle Sam taught him everything he knew.  And then by then he went go CC Camp, then we came home.  We raised cattle together.  Uncle Sam was a very big man, very good cowboy, the old-timers they were very good.  Like Joe Gang, they all the same bunch, you see.  They all worked for Willie Roy.  Like John Alika he worked for Willie Roy.  Sam worked for Willie Roy and they were the best they had.  Willie Roy used to raise pigs above [thinking] Ki‘ilae, yeah Ki‘ilae.

KM: Ki‘ilae, Kauleolī they had…

HA: …the pig pens

KM: That’s right, yes.

HA: Anyway that’s when Joe Gang was.  They came under probation (from Maui) and they all came here.  He came when he was fourteen years old, according to Alika.  He said “I know all of them.”  And then when their time was up they went back, but he stayed.

KM: He stayed, Joe Gang?

HA: Yes.  That’s why when I go ma uka, when I was supposed to come home, going down the road, he tell me, “No boy you stay up.”  “I got to go home work.”  He just tell somebody when he reach down the road, the boy going stay up.  I used to go up there every vacation before for chase wild cattle, go rope ‘āhius before.

KM: So up, you said you went up, you even built…?

HA: Yes, Komokawai, one time we went up, we hauled all the things from over here, above the shopping center, Sherwood Greenwell’s.

KM: Yes.

HA: We went haul ‘um up to Kahauloa, right above the small Kahauloa, right across, and we took ‘um to Hāpu‘u.  Hāpu‘u is directly across that fence line.  We took ‘um until there, and then later we took ‘um from there up to Komokawai.  So that’s the structure, building, not the Quonset hut, that came up afterwards.  It was all on the mules.

KM: Amazing!  Some work you folks have gone through you know.

HA: I was young you know and go up.  They like young people to go up because they saddle the mules, and every mule you got to watch out.  They all shake hands and they kick you… [smiling]  It’s been a lot of things, like working with wild cattle, it’s a lost thing now you know.  Even like Miki Kato he always talk about it…you know Miki Kato?

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: Miki, because he started off from McCandless.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Talking about the old-timers you know, Carl Hose, they were all good workers way back.  From the old man Hose time and everything.

KM: Yes, yes.  Henry?

HA: Henry Hose.

KM: Henry Hose.

HA: That’s one thing with the old people, there’s so much aloha.  Even you know Pu‘uanahulu when I used to work outside there from 1955.  When Sonny boy them was still going to Kam School and Ha‘o them.

KM: Yes.

HA: I was working on the road, we were bringing in the lines we were digging the holes first.

KM: You were putting in the road?

HA: No the lines.

KM: Was this the one for?

HA: The main power lines.  I worked for Kona Light from way back, in late ’52 then later we transferred and we brought in the lines.  You know those days before everything you dig the holes, you set the poles you put the wire.  That’s where I got to know all of those people up there, and such beautiful people you know.

KM: Yes.

HA: That’s why I said you know all your life, you met so many beautiful people, true people you know.

KM: Yes.

HA: That’s why even her [indicating his wife], one time she was going to Hilo with my little boy, right by Pu‘uanahulu flat tire.  Everybody used to saddle up over there you know.  The Alapai’s, the Keākealani’s, they came, they know my car.  “Hui, hello,” they start talking to her.  They asked her, “Who are you?”  Right there they fix all the tire everything.

KM: [chuckles] Nice, nui ke aloha!

HA: Oh yes, oh yes.

KM: Everyone was just they tied together family and good friends.

HA: That’s why I said, never mind, if only salt and poi, they invite you in.  I said over here, used to have one old couple, they lived right by the gray house, this old, old house.  They were good pig hunters, and they invite you in, even if they only had that.

 You know what I kind of minamina was…like us we went up early.  We got to get up 3:30 in the morning, we go work.  So never had time for stay down.  And my cousins, I wanted to because had this old man Kuohu who lived over here he used to go catch pā‘o‘o. 

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: By himself, and he go out on the canoe.  Big kind pā‘o‘o!  But he used the pāo‘o for bait.  The pāo‘o, the skin hard to come off, and ti leaf.  It’s a kind of lost art.  I wanted my cousins for go for learn because for me I no can learn because for me I no can because every morning I go work early.  But you know lot of them rather sleep then go.  Kind of minamina all of those things.

KM: Who was this old man?

HA: Kuohu…[thinking] what was his first name?  See a lot of these old people, I went bury them.  But those days we was working, but like I said, my mother knew a lot.  But you know, in those times we didn’t think.

KM: I know, aloha.  Didn’t think, yeah.

HA: We never think.  But I used to tell the other ones if you want to know go ask mama she know.  My mother she was kind of good at those things.  She had a stroke like that but lot of things kind of before she was kind of forgetful, then came back.

KM: That’s the really different thing about your mama them’s generation and before, their memory, their ability to recall family history you know.  It is…

HA: Yes, the years, the dates, was mean.

KM: Yes.

HA: You know Thompson, the old man the grandfather from Maui.  I always known grandpa, he used to come over, we lived close.

KM: The old man, Willie?

HA: No, no.  Willie’s father.  Uncle Willie’s father, and kind of look like Uncle Willie, tall, and good looking man, from Maui.  [chuckling]  All these buggas, they were cattle rustlers on Haleakalā…

KM: Now your sister married Willie’s?

HA: Son.  He was a good man.  Uncle Willie was a good man.  He made a lot of good cowboys, very good cowboys.  He made them good really good.

KM: Did you used to drive pipi down, from ma uka down to ma kai Ki‘ilae like that in the old pens they had down there?

HA: We, mostly they alaka‘i those calves down when we first went go up then later we hauled ‘em down with the trucks.

KM: Ahh.

HA: But like Joe Gang he the only man can lead plenty bulls down.  But bulls after a little while they chase your horse all the way in.  But he used, like two mules.  He run ‘em from the first pen, down so far, then they kind of slow down.  He tie ‘em up the thing is how you going make your rope so you can open ‘em as they go.  Then later he bring down two or three, but nobody else can do that.  Then he go back up and he change his mule, but he had practically all mules he only had few horses.

KM: Wow!

HA: But you see once people know, and I think common sense, if you want a good mule you breed ‘em with your best mare.  And that way you always going get one good mule.

KM: That’s right.

HA: He had some good mules, I rode.  I rode one he had was his choice, she was really good.  They’re like horses they can run like horses, they can turn.  He had one was his pet he named Pancake.  She was good because he raised her.  He call, she come to the door and she wait for her breakfast, because he gave her pancake and milk.  But he named her Pancake because he raised her you know.  She was a good mule too.

KM: Hard that kind of ranching, not like out in Parker Ranch kind, with the ‘āhiu and everything?

HA: No but you know they make good cowboys up here you know.  Good cowboys.  They ate well, work hard and you know something when you pau hana you hungry you eat.  Ho they just cut you know the hipa like that, your eye bigger, and then you eat.  You know our house you better eat everything or you going to get a whack you know.

KM: [chuckling]

HA: You know the old people they always make you feel good.  “Boy, the ‘īlio got to eat too, you know.”  Because they make you feel good you know.  So nice those old people.

KM: Hmm.  Uncle can I ask you a question?

HA: Yes, sure.

KM: You know the pali trail here [pointing to the Kealakekua pali section]?

HA: Yes.

KM: Did you ever walk that trail?

HA: Yes, yes.

KM: All the way up top?

HA: Not to the top.  I used to go up there go catch pig a lot.

KM: Ahh.  Along the old trail?

HA: Yes.

KM: That’s what we can see right, behind?

HA: Yes, yes.  According to Uncle Joe he used to tell everybody used to come down through there.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: I go up come down and come down to the mill where the ‘ōpae pond you were talking about.

KM: ‘Ae, ‘ae.

HA: Get trails go up like that too.

KM: That’s right.

HA: And go up and catch that other trail go over.

KM: Yes.  Kīloa and over.

HA: Yes.  Only now if you kind of watch sometime on those trails I don’t know now because, I remember one time the water went kind of wash out one time.  One night I went fall down inside.

KM: Oh.  It’s so amazing ‘cause you know and see that’s the thing sad…this is the old Alanui Aupuni the trail cut down [pointing out location on map].

HA: Hmm.

KM: And the trail you were talking about from Keauhou, but they went move ‘em right, on the Bishop Estate section?

HA: Yes.

KM: Lekeleke like that.

HA: Yes.

KM: Pushed it in.

HA: Yes.

KM: You know.  So the old trail wipe out.

HA: And now it’s theirs.

KM: Yes.

HA: It’s supposed to be the trail moved over and join in, but now they lock ‘em and they say, “Oh, this is our property this no longer exists,” you know.

KM: This trail is some history though.

HA: Yes.  And you know a lot of things…  You see why when I was small.  I lead home the horses with the cattle.  We leave our house Kāināliu and we come gallop across.  We come from Kāināliu and we come, gallop across and we come right above where the service station is up here…

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: Get the Cordeiro’s up there, meet up with them we come all the way down the road and we hit down here by the old Nāpo‘opo‘o School.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: We meet the old man Gaspar them, Vinhasa them, and then we all gallop, come down through the trail come down through there.

KM: ‘Ae, Palipoko.

HA: And we come here.  Then we ship cattle.

KM: Out of here?

HA: Yes.  Out of the bay used to be all white sand down there.

KM: Oh wow, yes.  Where all rocks now.

HA: There, get the big holding pen.  The big holding pen face the small holding pen.  So you know where the heiau is?

KM: Yes.

HA: Right there on the north side of the heiau.

KM: Yes, Hikiau.

HA: Had one pen.

KM: That’s where they hold the pipi for ship.

HA: The big pen up here you see when you come down right below the mill.

KM: Yes.

HA: You see nice dirt.

KM: Yes, yes.

HA: They used to lock all the cattle up here.

KM: Oh.

HA: And then there’s a big holding pen a big wall, high wall behind here.  Right above… [thinking] oh my, Kahauloa.

KM: Kahauloa.

HA: And then they bring all the cattle on to the big pen, the cattle kind of wild.  And then this one here feed the small pen and then shipping horses, shipping out.

KM: ‘Ae.

HA: Because used to be all white sand.

KM: Right.

HA: The sand used to be so white and so shiny and the water used to be so clear that you can’t leave the horse there you know because they get seasick and they would fall.

KM: Wow!

HA: But sometime when it’s rough that’s where the problem is you know, because the rider sometime go off, [chuckling] and lot of these guys cannot swim so they hang on to the horses tail.

KM: ‘Auwē [chuckling]!

HA: The horse will swim ‘um out.  And the guys on the barge, they were very good.  Then, when they pau, they all get drunk so I lead the horses.

KM: You were still shipping to World War II time?

HA: Yes.

KM: After World War II no more or pau?

HA: No, no pau.  But they use small kids, so I just ride the horses home, climb up on the side, you ride.  You know like the old man [thinking] Cordeiro’s horses and old man Gaspar’s horse he ride one over here and then just switch.  That’s the only time he get for change his horses…

KM: Yes.