Gaspar, Joseph Keanini with Weston Leslie (Part 2)

Kepā Maly -- February 15th, May 3rd & Jun 14th, 2001


The following is an excerpt from He Wahi Mo‘olelo no nā Ke‘ei ma Kona Hema, a collection of traditions, historical accounts and kama‘āina recollections of Ke‘ei, South Kona, Hawai‘i. It is used with the permission of Kepā Maly, Cultural Historian and Resources Specialist.

The excerpt has been edited by Ka‘iwakīloumoku for typographical errors only; the orthography is presented exactly as it is found in He Wahi Mo‘olelo no nā Ke‘ei ma Kona Hema.

Mr. Joseph Keanini Gaspar was born at Nāpo‘opo‘o in 1905.  His mother's family is descended from the famed Kamakau, who was konohiki (land overseer) of the Ka‘awaloa and Kealakekua lands in the time of Kamehameha I, Nāihe, and Kapi‘olani.  Kupuna Gaspar has lived at Nāpo‘opo‘o all his life, and lives on the same land on which he was born.

Kupuna Gaspar recalled that when he was a youth, people from the mauka lands of Kealakekua still walked the Kealakekua Pali section of the old Alanui Aupuni.  Over the last 96 years, kupuna Gaspar noted that he had observed many changes on the land and in the environment.  One of the most significant changes he spoke of was the decrease in rainfall and long periods of drought.  He believes that they drying out of the land is in part the result of the impacts of development on the landscape - clearing the land dries up the water sources.

During the interview, kupuna Gaspar shared his thoughts regarding various aspects pertaining to traditional Hawaiian practices and the cultural landscape.  Among his recollections are:

Places names are important, and should be preserved and spoken.  Every place has a story, a reason for the name being given.  While we may no longer know many of these traditions, their perpetuation is important.

As a youth, the Nāpo‘opo‘o community (Ka‘awaloa-Ke‘ei region) was closely knit.  Families worked together and cared for one another.

Sharing resources between families from near-shore and upland communities, and taking only what could be used to sustain a family was a way of life.  Kupuna Gaspar expressed concern that many people who fish today, have no thought for tomorrow.

While he did  not personally walk the Kealakekua Pali and Ka‘awaloa trails, Kupuna Gaspar heard of the trails and travel on the land from his elders and others who walked the land.  He noted that in his youth, it was no uncommon to see huaka‘i pō (processions of night marchers) descending from Kealakekua Pali down to Ka‘awaloa Flats.  He has not seen this for many, many years.  He also heard elders speak of there being certain nights when pahu (drums) were beard being beaten at Hikiau Heiau. 

Elders in his family also spoke of Captain Cook's reception as a "god" at Ka‘awaloa-Kealakekua, and subsequent death.  He was also told that Puhinaolono, a small heiau along the Ka‘awaloa Road was where Cook's body was prepared for burial - the flesh removed from the bones, and that a part of him had been eaten (this account is consistent with some historical accounts written by both native and foreign writers).

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 below.  Arrangements for the interview of February 15th were coordinated by kupuna Gaspar's nephew, Weston Leslie.  Kupuna Gaspar gave his personal release of the interview to Maly on May 2, 2001.  Kupuna Joseph Keanini Gaspar passed away on October 7, 2001 - Aloha 'oe.

JG: Yes.  You know, you walk the trail you go up.

KM: ‘Ae.  Interesting.  Smart how you learn about the fish you know so they get their place where they ma‘amau, they go all the time...

JG: Yes.  The Hawaiians call that ku‘una.

KM: Ku‘una, ‘ae.

JG: Yes.  You can set your net away from the ku‘una, the fish not going there.  No matter how you try, they just go on their trail.

KM: Yes, that's right they ma‘a for their alahele.

JG: Just like driving cattle.  Yes.

KM: Ah.  You folks raised pipi down here too?

JG: No, we only had milking cow.

KM: Hmm.  HOw many brothers and sisters did you have?

JG: I have ten brothers and one sister.

KM: Wow, amazing!  So you folks when you went Ka‘awaloa go fishing like that ws there any place you folks made salt before days or would gather pa‘akai?

JG: No, never.  Not over here I never see.

KM: Never.  You never see over here?

JG: No.

KM: How did you kaula‘i your fish?

JG: I don't know where they get their salt.

KM: You don't know where?

JG: I think they have some flat places, they have the holes.

KM: Kāheka.

JG: You see, when I was in Kalaupapa, I had a son over there.  I thought you just go over there and you pick the salt all up.  No, you have to scoop 'em from the water.

KM: ‘Ae.  And then you put 'em on the papa for dry?

JG: Yes.  That's the first time Iknew that's how they fix the salt.

KM: When you were young you didn't go out yourself, make salt?

JG: No.  When I born we already have store.

KM: Hmm, Hackfeld and what.

JG: Yes.

KM: Hmm.  Weston's tūtū I guess, used to take care of the wharf like that too, down there, Leslie?

JG: Yes.

KM: Yes, so his tūtū them.  You get store, you had the wharf, the harbor master like and everything.

JG: Yes.

KM: Was modern times.

JG: Yes.

KM: But how, down here, you folks never have electricity eh?

JG: No more, those days no electricity was lamp [chuckling].

KM: Kukui hele pō?

JG: Yes.  You know those days just like you living easy, you not worrying about anything.  Everything's almost free.

KM: Yes.  You would go lawai‘a, you get what you need there?

JG: Yes.  Come home.  You don't catch more than what you need.

KM: You don't eh?  That was how your tūtū taught you?

JG: Yes.

KM: Your mama them, "Take what you need, leave the rest."

JG: Yes.

KM: Yes, that's really maika‘i.

JG: You know what they say, "Don't waste."

KM: Don't waste...not to be ‘ānunu yeah?

JG: Yes.

KM: No good.

JG: If you waste you get poor.

KM: ‘Ae, that's right.

JG: That's what I see today, the kids.  They don't get any mind of the future.

KM: That's right.  So when you were young, they taught you, "You got to think for tomorrow," yeah?

JG: Yes.  Even in school they do that too.  What your parents teach home, they teach you at school.

KM: ‘Ae, that's amazing.  It's so nice to see you.

JG: Well, good you folks came by.

KM: You are the old kama‘āina for this place, Nāpo‘opo‘o.

JG: I think I'm the oldest now.

KM: ‘Ae, you are uncle, kupuna nui.  Did you hear any stories about how come they called it Kealakekua?

JG: [thinking - shakes head]

KM: Not that you remember?

JG: I don't know maybe that name belong there.

KM: Hmm.  Nāpo‘opo‘o?  You know all these Hawaiian names have meanings, yeah?

JG: Yes.

KM: Stories about them.

JG: Every little spot is a name.

KM: Those names are important.

JG: This Nāpo‘opo‘o is only the landing, it's not the name of the whole place.

KM: Ah.

JG: So they keep 'um thill now.  Then they called the whole place Nāpo‘opo‘o.

KM: Nāpo‘opo‘o.

JG: There's a Hawaiian name for this.

WL: Plenty Hawaiian names.

KM: Yes.  Are those names important?  You think in the old mo‘olelo?

JG: For the old folks.

KM: For the old folks yeah.  So it's good to keep them alive probably?

JG: Yes.

KM: Speak the names so that the history is remembered.

JG: Yes.  You see when we were young we not interested, yeah.

KM: Hmm.

JG: So we don't ask the old folks, that's why we don't know.

KM: ‘Ae, aloha.  Minamina sometimes, yeah?

JG: And now when you think about it, it's too late.

KM: Hmm.  But, a little bit here and there.

JG: Yes.

KM: We were with his uncle yesterday, Fred.  Nice talk story too, just like with you.  Wonderful!

WL: Uh-hmm.

JG: You any relation to Leslie's too?

WL: Yes, Earl is my father, I'm the youngest boy.

JG: Who you?

WL: Weston.

JG: Oh!  I was wondering.

WL: [chuckling]

JG: I was wondering when you call me uncle, like that.

WL: Yes.

JG/WL: [brief discussion about family]

WL: I go fishing still yet.  You heard about us before, the shark bite the boat outside of Ka‘ū, and we swam all night to come home.  We happy we're here today.

JG: Yes.

WL: So now we like talk to the old people about the old days.

JG: Yes.

KM: Speaking of sharks.  Were there sharks out here before, the ‘aumakua kind or something?

JG: There were sharks.  I think our ‘aumakua is the shark too.  Yes.

KM: Hmm.  You go ocean, you no need be afraid?

JG: No.

KM: I hear some of the kūpuna like your ‘ohana Kamakau mā, some of them these families could go out with the canoe and they call the shark would even make the fish come in to them.

JG: Yes.  [pauses] I went fishing with his [Weston's] family.  Ten years, out here.  January, February, March that's all you going catch is shark.  We use long line, fishing line.  That's why you no catch fish, the sharks stick around.

KM: So January, February, March?

JG: By that time the water kind of warm.

KM: Oh, so that's when the shark they come in then.

JG: Yes, come in.

KM: So you no could go fish?

JG: Nut now, I see the sharks coming in shore, eating the man up [chuckles].

WL: But his days, they didn't cut fin and throw the body in the ocean.

JG: Yes.

WL: They let go the whole fish alive go back in the water.

JG: Uh-hmm.

KM: Yes.

WL: Keep the fish.

KM: Then other season you go holoholo, you go fish?

JG: Yes.

KM: What kinds of fish did you folks used to catch?

JG: Pā‘ou‘ou, moano, whatever fish bite the hook.

KM: ‘Ae, whatever kind.  You folks grew taro or sweet potato down here?

JG: No, none... [thinking] Oh yes sweet potato, for the family only.  When World War I time, that's when we started to plant.  The old folks they had taro especially up the hill.

KM: Way up?

JG: You go with the donkey.

KM: Way mauka?

JG: Above the highway.

KM: They make māla‘ai up there?

JG: Yes.

KM: So, that's how they would get their poi, taro like that?

JG: Yes, go with donkey and pack saddle.

KM: Hmm.  Amazing.  So the family lived kahakai but they get māla‘ai mauka?

JG: Yes, mauka.

KM: Regular, they go back and forth?

JG: Yes plant their own taro.  Now you buy taro from the Japanese [chuckling], instead of from the Hawaiians [chuckling].

KM: I know...back when Higashi used to make poi come down...

JG: Yes.  Before the Hawaiians owned the taro [chuckling].

Group: [chuckling]

JG: Yes, a lot of difference.  Different.

KM: Hard time, hard time.  The land changing a lot you know.

JG: Yes... I retired, 1970.

KM: When you retired then you went go holoholo again, kā mākoi like that?

JG: Yes, just a little bit.  Nothing to do, I may as well go down the beach.

KM: Yes, may as well.

JG: Catch crab, make ‘ōpihi, wana, any kind.

KM: ‘Ae.  And who was your wahine, you were married?

JG: Yes I get four boys.

KM: What was your wife's name?

JG: Rebecca.

KM: Rebecca?

JG: Kaolulo.

KM: Oh...Kaolulo?

JG: Yes...

KM: I think I saw the name tough somewhere in here.  [looking at Register Map 1595] Here's the Kāhikolu, here's your school up here.

JG: The old school.

KM: The old school, Nāpo‘opo‘o school.

JG: Uh-hmm.

KM: The hosue where we are now over here, Kaha [LCA 9745], this ‘āina here.  So you had to walk up, go up to school?

JG: Yes, right by Kāhikolu church below.

KM: ‘Ae, right by Kāhikolu here's Kāhikolu church ma‘ane‘i.

Jg: Yes, right below there.

KM: Yes.  So all of these places though, had different names?

JG: Yes.

KM: Do you remember an old man Keli‘inohomoku?

JG: I don't think so

KM: He used to make lā‘au like that I was told before.  Here's Palau [Grant 1566], this is where Kapule mā lived down, I guess they call this Manini beach now.

JG: Oh yes, right behind here.

KM: heard that name Kapahukapu?

JG: Yes, down here.  I think that Manini beach that they call over here, belong to Ho‘okena.

KM: Ah, change the name?

JG: Yes, I don't know how they call Manini beach over here.

KM: So got to take care the place names, yeah?

JG: Yes.

KM: I think so, yeah.

JG: Nowadays you get all new names for the old place.

KM: Ah.  So you go holoholo, pau you get messed up.

JG: Yes, just like up here, Captain Cook, that's Ka‘awaloa.

KM: Nice that name Ka‘awaloa.

JG: Hmm.

KM: Did  you hear what that means?

JG: No.

KM: You no idea, Ka‘awaloa?

JG: I'm not sure.  Unless you look in the Hawaiian dictionary maybe they get.

KM: So when you were growing up did you hear any of your mother or kūpuna them did they chant ‘oli?

JG: No.  Maybe their folks.

KM: Yes, that time, but not your time?

JG: No.

KM: You folks went what church?

JG: I was a catholic.  See the trouble with the Catholic, they only gave one Sunday a month.

KM: Oh yes.

JG: So the folks supposed to go church every Sunday, instead of going out play.  So my mother had argument with the minister, she went pull us out, so we went Kāhikolu.

KM: Oh.  Did the catholic church have a name, Hawaiian name?

JG: No it didn't.

KM: Not that you remember?

JG: No. The church was right up here.

KM: Was right up here.

JG: Around the corner.

KM; Is that the one that was Painted church?

JG: No, that was up Hōnaunau.

KM: Hōnaunau, hmm.  This is nice.  [asking Weston] Do you have some thoughts, some questions?

WL: No, this was nice, good stories.

JG: Nice of you folks coming.

WL: You play music yeah, uncle Joe.

JG: Yes, steel guitar.

KM: Oh?

JG: And sax.

KM: Oh yeah?  So do you have a song down here?  You sing for this place down here?

JG: [thinking] that Kona kai ‘ōpua.

KM: Oh, how does that go?

JG: I don't remember now, long time I never play music.  I kind of forget.

KM: Long time.

JG: They have a song for this place, Nāpo‘opo‘o, but I don't know.

KM: You don't remember a song?

JG: No.

KM: You no more favorite song?

JG: Too many!

KM: Too many.

Group: [chuckling]

KM: They all nice, yeah, nanea.

JG: Yes.

KM: You play steel guitar?

JG: Yes.

WL: And his son play guitar and ukulele.

KM: How nice.

WL: Mostly all of 'em.

JG: Run in the family.

KM: Maika‘i.  Hawaiian music nice yeah, nanea.

JG: Yes.  The old folks favorite music is violin.

KM: Oh yeah?

JG: Yes.  Everybody in the family play music.

WL: When had party down here before, how long the party goes on?

JG: Oh, almost every house you go to, get party.

KM: New Year's time I bet, everyone goes house to house, sing songs, himeni?

JG: Yes, you get tired with your party, you go to the next house and keep on going as far as you can go.  Yes, that's how the people lived over here.

KM: Were there plenty families living right down here?

JG: Yes, pretty much.

KM: Pretty much.  Who are some of the families, you folks, Gaspar...?

JG: The Leslies.

KM: Leslie.

WL: Kamakaus.

JG: Kamakaus... [thinking] Oh, many more.

KM: Kapule I guess?

JG: Yes.

KM: You remember Kalokuokamaile?

JG: Yes I remember the old man.  Walking the street with the newspaper.  Pretty old.

KM: ‘Ae.  That old man Kalokuokamaile was smart.

JG: He write stories.

KM: ‘Ae, and he was a chanter.

JG: Yes.  He lived right across the corner there.

KM: Oh, right across the corner there.

JG: You know where you turn down?

KM: Yes, to go down...?

JG: Yes, Manini Beach.

KM: Manini or Kapahukapu?

JG: Yes.

WL: Had Luahine.

KM: Luahine?

JG: Luahine, yeah.

KM: Makekau too?

JG: Yes, Makekau, the Kamaua.  I remember we used to go around these people before.

KM: Nice.

JG: Yes, they all nice.  They always call you when you walking the street.  They yelling at you...

KM: Come?

JG: Yes.

KM: Hele mai.

JG: Friendly.

KM: Friendly.

JG: Not today, they kick you out [chuckling].

KM: [thinking] Uncle, did you ever hear of any huaka‘i pō?  You know the night marchers?

JG: Oh yeah!

KM: You heard.

JG: You see light, you see light going and  you could see the person without head, that's what they talk.

KM: Where was that?

JG: Oh, they say all around, you see them.  And Ka‘awaloa, you see lamps, like a parade.

KM: On the point, like?

JG: On the top.

KM: Come down the pali come down?

JG: Yes.

KM: Oh!  They call that huaka‘i pō?

JG: That was it.

KM: Night marchers, yeah?

JG: Yes.

KM: What did they say that was, who was that?

JG: I think the old people before.

KM: Ah, po‘e kahiko.

JG: Before our parents time.

KM: ‘Ae, the kūpuna kahiko.

JG: Way long.

KM: Po‘e kahiko?

JG: Yes.

KM: You would see them, still coming off Ka‘awaloa?

JG: Yes.  But nowadays I think, no more.

KM: Now no more.

JG: I don't know.

WL: Some times come.  The Hawaiians, still yet they come once in a while.

JG: Yes.

KM: The ‘uhane they come.

JG: They hear people talking and there's nobody there.

KM: Just like you guys close to this heiau you never hear pahu?

WL: I hear, myself.

KM: You heard pahu?

JG: Not me, but I hear people talk about it, yeah.

KM: You would think so because they said Captain Cook landed over there and they brought him to that heiau.  I guess they thought he was Lono or something, yeah?

JG: Yes.  When Captain Cook landed they thought he was a god [chuckling].

WL: [chuckling] They thought he was.

KM: And then what found out he not god [chuckling]?

JG: Not a god.  They said they ate him up [chuckling].

Group: [chuckling]

KM: Yes.  That's why, you go up that Ka‘awaloa road mauka come out by Paris house?

JG: Yes.

KM: Get that heiau they call Puhinaolono and they say they took his body there and they take the pelapela off, the flesh like that.

JG: Yes.

KM: Clean the bones so they can go kanu.

JG: Well, we hear all kind stories like that.

KM: You hear?

JG: Yes.

KM: Hmm.  Uncle mahalo nui!  Na ke Akua e ho‘opōmaika‘i iā ‘oe.

JG: You folks too.

KM: ‘Ae, mahalo!  You'll enjoy these maps here.

JG: Yes.

KM: Mahalo nui, good to see you.

JG: Yes, pretty soon fall apart.

KM: I don't think so.

WL: You get plenty more time uncle.

KM: May I take your picture?

JG: Okay.

KM: Mahalo.  You look so nice.  And I bet every morning you're up first thing, comb hair everything.

JG: Uh-hmm.

KM: You handsome guy you [taking photos].  Nice.

JG: Good to meet you.

KM: Very nice to meet you.  Mahalo nui... I'm going to take this interview, type it out, and then I'll bring it back home to you.

JG: Okay... [end of interview]