Kapule-Kahele, Moana Kapapakeali‘ioka‘alokai "Mona" (Part 1)

Kepā Maly -- August 5, 2002 at Kīloa


Moana Kapapakeali‘ioka‘alokai "Mona" Kapule-Kahele, (Aunty Mona), was born at Kapahukapu (Kahauloa-Nāpo‘opo‘o), South Kona, in 1921. As a child, she was raised by her grandparents and brought up in a household where Hawaiian language and cultural practices were the way of life.

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.


Moana Kapapakeali‘ioka‘alokai "Mona" Kapule-Kahele, (Aunty Mona), was born at Kapahukapu (Kahauloa-Nāpo‘opo‘o), South Kona, in 1921. As a child, she was raised by her grandparents and brought up in a household where Hawaiian language and cultural practices were the way of life. Kupuna Kahele is known throughout Kona (and Hawai‘i) for her knowledge of the Hawaiian language, native traditions, and practices. During the interviews (cited in this study), Kupuna Kahele shared detailed accounts of travel along the traditional ala hele (trails) and historic Alanui Aupuni of the Hōnaunau-Nāpo‘opo‘o-Keauhou region, practices associated with collection of resources from sea to mountain, and traditions of place names and land use. As a youth, her family and others of the region still maintained upland agricultural fields where kalo (taro) and other plants were grown in the shelter of the forests. At Maunalei (Kahauloa), there were two springs which the families relied upon for water and for their crops and drinking source.  They also kept fields of sweet potatoes and crops on the kula (middle lands) and near their shore residence. Fishing and agriculture were their mainstays.

Kupuna Kahele’s genealogy (under the names of Kalokuokamaile, Palau, Kapule, and Ka‘ilikini) ties her to the lands of the Nāpo‘opo‘o-Ke‘ei region and other locations in Kona. For nearly 60 years, Kupuna Kahele walked the trails of Kona. She believes that respect and care for the land is the responsibility of all who travel the trails and touch the land and sea. She encourages continued use of the native trails, but believes that such use must be educated. People need to understand the sacred nature of the landscape to the Hawaiian people and travel with respect.

During each of the interviews in which Kupuna Kahele participated, she shared detailed accounts of place name origins and historical sites of Ke‘ei, Kahauloa, and the larger Kealakekua-Nāpo‘opo‘o region. Kupuna Kahele granted her release of the interviews on December 5, 2002.

KM:      ... ‘Ae, mahalo kūkū, aloha hou, aloha iā ‘oe.

MK:      ‘Ae.

KM:      We’re going to look at these maps, like you were just looking, this is Bishop Estate Map No. 824 for the lands of Ke‘ei.  You were just saying you have a different name for it?

MK:      Yes.

KM:      What is supposed to be the name, what do you understand?

MK:      The name that we know of was Kūlou.

KM:      Kūlou, ‘ae.

MK:      Because the people; over there had a habit of bowing.

KM:      Ahh.

MK:      They never look at you straight in your face when they meet you. They always bow first.

KM:      Hmm, I see.

MK:      So that’s why it was known as Kūlou.

KM:      Kūlou.

MK:      But Kiei, Kiei.

KM:      ‘Ae, Kiei.

MK:      Well that’s a different thing, that, that’s peeping tom.

KM:      ‘Ae. To peer, to peek, yeah?

MK:      Yes. Because when they see the wa‘a going outside, and they want to know who’s that. So they run in their shack and pull the thatch on the side and look who’s that.  Whether good or bad people.

KM:      Ahh.

MK:      So, they had the habit of doing that, Kiei.

KM:      ‘Ae.

MK:      And then whoever took the name down, they think they heard Ke‘ei.

KM:      ‘Ae.

MK:      And Ke‘ei no more meaning.

KM:      ‘Ae. But that’s your understanding, that’s the name?

MK:      That’s what I know.

KM:      From your kūkū?

MK:      From my kūkū, and kūkū [thinking]... oh my goodness, Kaua.

KM:      Kaua, Pānui?

MK:      Yes.

KM:      Ohh. Yes, that was Louie or...?

MK:      No, no, we only called him kūkū Pānui, that’s all.

KM:      Yes, so kūkū Kaua Pānui.

MK:      Yes, Kaua.

KM:      Ohh. Very interesting.  This is a wonderful map of the Ke‘ei or Kiei section because it’s the ma kai area and it shows... [opening map] Like we had talked before, tūtū, about the different names and areas of the land.  This shows you, if you actually look on this big section.  Here’s Palemanō.

MK:      Yes. [looking at map]

KM:      You told me about that before. And it has to do with the shark?

MK:      Uh-hmm. Palemanō is about the shark, too, and that’s where the sharks live.

KM:      Ahh.

MK:      Because was a cave on the outside.

KM:      On the Nāpo‘opo‘o side?

MK :      The ocean side.

KM :      Ocean side?

MK :      Yes.

KM :      You see there’s a little inlet even right in there.

MK :      Uh-hmm.

KM :      The point there, nuku, yes.

MK :      So where the ship crashed is right around here.

KM :      Ahh. Somewhere in this vicinity here on the point. Yes?

MK :      Yes, uh-hmm.

KM :      ‘Cause you were telling me about the Spanish, yes?

MK :      Yes.

KM :      Ahh. And that’s, here’s the little area where the one, the sandy beach was.

MK :      Right.

KM :      And the stone Haleolono, like that.

MK :      Oh boy, have you been down there lately?

KM :      No.

MK :      Nice now.

KM :      Is it, oh good.

MK :      All this area.

KM :      Cleaned up?

MK :      Hmm boy, when you look at it you don’t know whether it’s gonna come back again or what.

KM :      Hmm.

MK :      There was a heiau here.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      And people were stealing the stones.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      Take ‘em home for garden and...

KM :      Did you hear the name Kamaiko?

MK :      Kamaiko, yes.

KM :      Yes. Still has a little bit.

MK :      Kamaiko.

KM :      Okay, Kamaiko.  ‘Cause you walked around this ‘āina when you were young?

MK :      All, all the way down.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      Until Kīpū and beyond Ki‘ilae.

KM :      See it shows Kīpū here.

MK :      Yes.

KM :      And Ki‘ilae goes all the way out past Hōnaunau.

MK :      Right.

KM :      Yes.

MK :      And they had people you know, living here.

KM :      Oh?

MK :      Yes.

KM :      Ohh.

MK :      Yes, I think was Kelekolio.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      [thinking] I think Kalili family.

KM :      Ahh.

MK :      And another family.

KM :      You think out by Kīpū or further towards the Hōnaunau section?

MK :      Going towards Ki‘ilae.

KM :      Ki‘ilae, yes, so at Hōnaunau, Keōkea, Ki‘ilae, going in like that.

MK :      Yes.

KM :      Hmm. You had shared with me tūtū too, you know, if we have Palemanō here.

MK :      Yes.

KM :      And then has Moku‘ōhai Bay where I guess a battle took place, at Moku‘ōhai?

MK :      Yes.  Supposed to be Mokuoka‘e.

KM :      Ahh.

MK :      But people, who ever wrote it down never write the right way.  They think they hear or they do it their own.

KM :      Yes.

MK :      Moku‘ōhai, no.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      There’s no ‘ōhai tree there.

KM :      ‘Ae. [chuckles] Oh, very interesting, though. I guess when you were young, families were still living out here, yeah?

MK :      Yes.  They had, I think I can remember some [thinking] going towards, let’s see, Kīpū side, the Kimi family, of course tūtū Kaua folks, and my aunty were living there.

KM :      Yes.  Who was your aunty?

MK :      Ka‘ula.

KM :      Ka‘ula?

MK :      Yes.

KM :      Ohh.

MK :      She married to tūtū Kaua’s hānai son, Louie Grace.

KM :      ‘Ae, Louie Grace.  Ohh.

MK :      And then we... well we always go down to their place because my mother, she get farm up ma uka.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      Kanu kalo.  So every time when they ku‘i ‘ai like that, she get ‘em on her horse, she go down, take for her family.

KM :      So she would take down to her sister, Ka‘ula mā?

MK :      Yes because she had a lot of children.

KM :      Ohh.

MK :      So had tūtū Kaua, and they had another hānai girl, Hattie, that’s Kaliko’s mother.

KM :      Ahh yes, yes.

MK :      And then there was, who else was there... [thinking] it was such a full house.

KM :      A lot of people living down here.

MK :      Yes, in one house.  My aunty and her children, they lived with tūtū Kaua and they lived in the front house.  In the back, there’s another small house in the back, and then have these other children.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      And [thinking] I forgot her name. His wife, anyways, lived behind with these other children.  And then once in a while he go in the back and stay with them.

KM :      ‘Ae. Ohh.

MK :      That’s how they lived.  So the ‘ai came from my family.

KM :      So, ma uka, Kahauloa ma uka, that section?

MK :      Yes.

KM :      Where you folks were telling me about the māla‘ai.

MK :      Maunalei.

KM :      Maunalei, ‘ae.  And so they kanu mea ‘ai like ‘ole...?

MK :      Yes, all up there. When time for get, she goes to get.

KM :      And were these ‘ohana, were the ‘ohana living down here in this Palemanō section, lawai‘a? Po‘e lawai‘a?

MK :      Well, for their livelihood, that’s all.

KM :      For their own family?

MK :      Yes, that’s all.  Because my uncle was working for the county.  But you know, those days, they go work when they feel like it.

KM :      Yes. And...

MK :      So it was a problem.

KM :      [chuckling] So you would walk along... did you ever hear that there were ilina at this Kamaiko heiau area or out along this point?

MK :      They had, they had out there, I remember one place that we couldn’t go and climb up there.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      They had all these fences like that. But there was nothing on top.

KM :      You mean?

MK :      Up here had all the ‘ili‘ili and that was nice, eh.

KM :      ‘Ae.  That was out here by the heiau section?

MK :      Yes.

KM :      Ahh.

MK :      We couldn’t climb up there, got to stay away.

KM :      Tūtū, you’ve shared your mana‘o about ilina is pretty much to leave alone, you don’t bother?

MK :      Leave alone, yes.

KM :      That’s important. I guess like you said Mokuoka‘e or what they call Moku‘ōhai, there must have been a lot of pā ilina out there or pū‘o‘a from the battle, right?

MK :      Yes, has one at Kīpū.

KM :      ‘Ae, ohh.

MK :      And that one there is a strange one. Way inland and they have one place just like one punawai big, big area like this [indicating the size of her living room -- about 20 feet across.]

KM :      Yes, yes.

MK :      And then in there have all the colored sand that you would think that’s glass.

KM :      Hmm.

MK :      But that’s not, it’s sand. It’s red, white, green, blue, all different colors in this puka right there.

KM :      Uh-hmm.

MK :      And then, oh when we were kids, we dig, dig, dig, we want to se the bottom if different color but no, the same thing.

KM :      Oh?

MK :      And it’s deep down.  So at that time we didn’t know what it was.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      And then on the outside of that they had a wall and this wall go up and then go down almost to the cliff.  And then the other side, too, it comes to the trail and stops.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      Just like the other side, so the trail goes up that way till it goes in the back of that, and then comes down with this side corner, see.  And right in the front of the cliff there’s a wahine, all pāhoehoe.

KM :      Oh?

MK :      Laying on the pāhoehoe her hair nice, all nice and her arms up like this [gestures arms up] two arms, and the legs hanging over the cliff.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      But all naked.

KM :      Stone form?

MK :      Yes.

KM :      In stone form?

MK :      All stone.  And then they have that over there. We cannot walk on top that.  If you want to go pound ‘ōpihi, you either... if you’re brave enough to go underneath well, some places you have to swim.

KM :      ‘Ae, ohh.

MK :      So we never took a chance unless you come on a canoe.  And most times if we go on land we never go down that place.  We always go in the back and then go down the other side.

KM :      Yes.

MK :      And, at that time Mokuoka‘e had some little, you know, overhang, the lava?

KM :      Yes, yes.

MK :      They had some bones in there.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      Yes.

KM :      Yes.

MK :      Then we used to think that’s animal bones, we never bother. But yet we never had cattle over there.

KM :      Right, right.

MK :      Because all what they had over there growing was the pili and what else... [thinking] pānini.

KM :      Ahh.

MK :      That was all.

KM :      Yes.

MK :      Nothing else. But of course, Kīpū had coconut trees.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      And that was the only place that had coconut trees right there.

KM :      Yes, yes.

MK :      And then the rest down, no more until you get almost to Ki‘ilae.

KM :      ‘Ae, ohh.  Yes, in fact it says even on this 824 map, Coconut Grove here’s at Kīpū. [referencing locations on BE Map No. 824]

MK :      Uh-hmm.

KM :      Then you get A‘ala, Ke‘omo.

MK :      Ke‘omo, yes.

KM :      Kahinu?

MK :      Kahinu, Kahinu was it Kahinu? [thinking] I think it was Kainu.

KM :      Oh yes.

MK :      Not Kahinu.

KM :      Ahh.

MK :      I don’t know the way the Hawaiians say it, you know when they say it fast.

KM :      Yes, hard to tell, yeah.

MK :      Kainu... so. That’s what I know it as, Kainu.

KM :      Ke‘omo, I guess this is the area basically where the battleground is supposed to be.

MK :      Yes.

KM :      This section over Ke‘omo Point, like that.

MK :      Ki‘eki‘e.

KM :      Yes, Papaki‘eki‘e.

MK :      Mokuoka‘e.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      And then down.

KM :      The little bay, this is where there’s a house back here now.

MK :      Uh-hmm.

KM :      The Maluhia, the YMCA camp?

MK :      Right.

KM :      Was put into here?  Today, this is where Pānui’s place is. So Kaliko mā, you know?

MK :      Uh-hmm.  Pānui, I think they still have that place.

KM :      ‘Ae, they do.

MK :      And then Greenwell is...

KM :      Well, what’s really interesting, too, here tūtū, you see this one here just below the old Alanui Aupuni this section here [pointing on map.]

MK :      Right, right.

KM :      Makaiahai, and then this lot, kuleana was to Kekūhaupi‘o.

MK :      Yes, that’s where the Japanese used to live.

KM :      Hmm.

MK :      I think was Saiki, that was the Japanese that was living there.  Either he was leasing that place or what. And then on this side was... [thinking] I forgot that Hawaiian family, so long, then they went away and you never see them no more.

KM :      Hmm.  Nice though, yeah?

MK :      And I think Dr. Mitchell owns that today.

KM :      Ohh.

MK :      This and... yes, that portion, Dr. Mitchell.

KM :      Even had an old school, there was an old school right here, this is the old school lot.

MK :      They had a school and a church.

KM :      Yes, yes.

MK :      And the cement was still down there.

KM :      Oh yes.

MK :      I don’t know if it’s still there yet.  But we used to play around in there, play hide and whatnot [chuckling.]

KM :      Uh-hmm.  So you folks, you would go holoholo, lawai‘a, visit family like that?

MK :      Yes. Oh that’s the best place for catch ‘aha‘aha.

KM :      Oh yeah?

MK :      Oh my, so easy.

KM :      This side or all around the point.

MK :      All these places.

KM :      Oh yeah, ‘aha‘aha?

MK :      Yes. Especially where they had all the sand and all that.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      That’s where ‘ōhua, and all that.

KM :      Wonderful! There’s a point here called Limu Koko.

MK :      Yes, that’s right because over there had limu koko like rubbish.

KM :      Oh.

MK :      And there’s a stone sitting outside in the water.  But when you go over there, you pick all what you think you have enough, go away.

KM :      Ahh.

MK :      Because if you don’t, the water going come up, up, up.

KM :      ‘Ōkaikai.

MK :      And then you won’t be able to jump up.

KM :      Oh interesting.  So you go ‘ohi limu?

MK :      Yes.

KM :      A pau, ho‘i i kula?

MK :      When you see the waves kind of slapping against that rock, that’s time for you to leave, you have enough already.

KM :      Interesting.

MK :      Uh-hmm.

KM :      I was thinking that you had talked to me a little bit about Kekūhaupi‘o before.

MK :      I only know that he owned that place.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      But what happened after that, we don’t know.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      So many things happened that nobody knows, and you know how people didn’t know how to read or write. And that was the pilikia, now they come with their palapala all in haole.

KM :      ‘Ae.

MK :      And then maybe they explaining to you, it’s not what’s in the palapala, it’s different.

KM :      That’s right. Did you hear how Kekūhaupi‘o died? The old one under Kamehameha?

MK :      [thinking] No, I don’t think so. Maybe I did but, oh so much.

KM :      Yes, so long ago, too.  I know I’m so amazed when we sat down and the times we’ve talked story.  Your memory is so wonderful you know, and these things that you recorded, remembered from your kūkū mā talking story.

MK :      Yes.