Kapaona, Anna (Ana) Kahā‘ulelio Kahaleuahi

L. Ke‘ala Kwan Jr., great-grandson of Anna Kahā‘ulelio Kahaleuahi Kapaona


Anna Kapaona and great-grandson Leonard Ke‘ala Kwan Jr. Photo courtesy of Ke‘ala Kwan.

Name: Anna (Ana) Kahā‘ulelio Kahaleuahi Kapaona
Place of Birth: Kaupō, Maui
Date of Birth: March 13, 1892
Date of Death: December 20, 1973
Place of Death: Honolulu, Hawai‘i
Spouse: Moses Kalaukaula Kapaona
Places of Residence: Kaupō (Maui), Pā‘ia (Hāmākua, Maui), Ke‘anae
(Ko‘olauwaena, Maui), Kohala (Kohalawaho, Hawai‘i), Honolulu, Nānākuli (Wai‘anae Kai, O‘ahu)

Parents: Samson Kahaleuahi (K), Anadacia Kealohapau‘ole Pi‘imanu (W)

Adopted Children and Grandchildren:

Luciana Kanoho Kapaona (m. Edward A. Ho, Sr., m. Charles K. Kame‘enui, Jr., m. Felix Fernando)
  Edward A. Ho, Jr. (m. Janet Alo)
        - Valerie, Hiram, Ivan, Aaron, Eric
Elizabeth Y.L. Ho (m. Leonard F.K. Kwan, Sr.)
        - Leonard F. Ke‘ala, Jr., Kenneth C.K., Kevin-Lee K.
Moses K. Kame‘enui, Ruby K. Kame‘enui (Aiulu)
Moses K. Kawai (m. Elizabeth Kapahu, m. Lucy Kekuewa)
  Katherine, Timothy W. LucyLu L.
Joseph H.K. Kapaona (m. Yuri Miyaura)

Ah Christmas, a special time of celebration, joy, and happiness. The Christmas of 1973, however, was one of the saddest times of my life because just a few days before that Christmas, I lost someone so very special and dear to me. Anna Kahā‘ulelio Kahaleuahi Kapaona, my great-grandmother, passed away at the age of 81. A full-blooded Hawaiian whose first language was ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, hers was a simple and productive life, a life of which I was so blessed to have been a part. She lived with our ‘ohana (family) from before the time I was born until her passing, when I was a young man. Much of who I am today is due to her. I am told that as a very young child I called her “Puna,” probably because I couldn’t say the entire word “Kupuna” (grandparent), and that is the affectionate inoa (name) used by my siblings and me for her. Some twenty years later, I found it fascinating that my own children called a dear kupuna, who took them to school everyday, “Puna,” too.

Born on March 13, 1892, in Kaupō, Maui, to Samuel Kahaleuahi and Anadasia Kealohapau‘ole Pi‘imanu, Puna was lawe hānai (given in adoption) to her mother’s younger sister and her sister’s husband, Daniel Puhi. She lived with them in Pā‘ia, Hāmākua, Maui, until her hanai mother passed away. Then at the age of four her hānai father remarried a Hawaiian woman from Ke‘anae, Maui, and they moved to ‘Ōhi‘a, in Honomanū, Ke‘anae, Ko‘olau, Maui.

During a Ka Leo Hawai‘i Hawaiian language radio interview conducted by Larry Kauanoe Kimura, in 1973, Puna described how ‘Ōhi‘a was so lush and verdant. All kinds of fruit and other food grew abundantly in that area. She described the kalo ‘aweu that grew wild in the mountains, pi‘a, ‘ōhi‘a, kuawa, uhi, and pālau. All one had to do was be ‘eleu and work the ‘āina and food would always be available. A caller that evening asked if Puna was familiar with making pāpale (hats) with the ‘iwa fern. Her response was that indeed she was familiar with doing this and promptly proceeded to describe how it was done, including soaking the ‘iwa for several weeks in the lo‘i kalo as part of the preparation process. Puna also shared that she knew, first hand, many other things Hawaiian because she had learned and practiced them while growing up. These were things that many could talk about but few had actually done themselves.

In the same interview she describes chewing ‘awa as a child for her hanai father and how after chewing for awhile her entire mouth became numb. The chewing would end with her biting a bit of kō (sugarcane). I suppose this was done to remove the bitter ‘awa taste. Later, when an aunt visits them, she scolds Puna's father, telling him to ku‘i (pound) his own ‘awa lest the child end up with scaly, and peeling skin, and blood red eyes – the result of overuse of this Hawaiian narcotic. But she loved her kahu hanai (adoptive parent - father) dearly. Puna would tell us of her going fishing with her father on the canoe. Her eyes widened as she described how they sailed far out – until the island could barely be seen. She seems to have been the only child and therefore was taught many things by her beloved father.

One of the most vivid memories of my childhood is of Puna, in her simple, long, “working” mu‘umu‘u, at Ka‘alawai, near Diamond Head, where she would gracefully and confidently swim out in the kai and dive to gather limu (seaweed). She was so comfortable and at home in the ocean. Although her hands bore scars from eel bites inflicted years before, they were still agile and ready to gather the nourishing and ‘ono (delicious) bounty of the sea. That modern saying “No Fear” really isn’t so new, as our kūpuna were fearless in the kai because of their affinity to, and great respect for it. Near shore, Puna would gather loli (sea cucumber) and limu wawae‘iole. She would prepare the loli by scrubbing it against the shoreline rocks and then put them away to be taken home. Sometimes she would sit in the shallows and holding out the hem of her mu‘umu‘u under water, capture the pua (baby fish) in her makeshift “net.” Many years later, I would return with my wife to this same beautiful area and it was incredible how the limu wawae‘iole just floated on the water and gently washed up to shore as if she were there once again helping me gather the delicacies of the kai.

Although Puna was in her early sixties by the time I was born, I have heard stories of her younger days from relatives, especially my mother, whom she took as hānai. Puna worked at the pineapple cannery in Honolulu as a supervisor until she retired. She was known to take good care of the women who worked with her and sometimes have them over to her house for great after work parties! She would often put together lū‘au for ‘ohana and neighbors, with her husband who prepared the pua‘a kālua (pig cooked in the underground oven). She was also a skilled mid-wife, who assisted in the birth of several of my uncles, aunts and other relatives.

Like so many of our kūpuna, the immense cultural knowledge, experience, and wisdom that Puna possessed, has left with her passing. However, I mahalo Ke Akua for having her in my life as an inspirational and powerful role model and teacher for whom I shall be forever grateful me ke aloha nō.