Leslie, Fred Kaimalino with Weston Leslie (Part 2)

Kepā Maly -- February 14, 2001. Ka‘awaloa Vicinity, Island of Hawai‘i.


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.

Fred Kaimalino Leslie was born at Nāpo‘opo‘o in 1918.  His immediate family (Leslie, Gaspar, and Kamakau) has lived at Nāpo‘opo‘o for generations, and his late wife's family (Lanui Kaneao and Kua) was the last native Hawaiian family to reside on the Ka‘awaloa Flats, where he also lived for a while in the 1930s.  From the days of his youth, kupuna Leslie traveled the land (mauka-makai), and fished the ocean of Kona with his elders.  Indeed, he has lived his life as a fisherman.  He is an excellent story teller, and in his interview, he shares many accounts of travel between the Ke‘ei - Pu‘uohau region (both on land and by sea).  He still makes ‘ōpelu nets, and describes many customs and practices associated with native fishing techniques.

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.  During the interview, kupuna Leslie shared detailed descriptions of fishing customs; the importance of features on the inland landscape to locating fisheries (ko‘a); travel along native trails and historic roadways; traditional practices associated with land use; and of several areas where heiau, ilina, and other important features occur.  Kupuna Leslie's nephews, Gene and Weston Leslie initiated the contact, and Weston facilitated arrangements for the interview.  Kupuna Leslie gave his release of the interview on May 2, 2001.

KM: All, every place, yeah.  Is it important to preserve place names?

WL: Yes.

FL: Oh yes, at least you know...

KM: 'Cause it's history.

FL: Yes, that's history, yeah.

WL: Landmark.

KM: That's right, landmark.

FL: They should follow those names.  Don't go off, if you don't know the name they give 'em one name, that's not right.

KM: Yes.  And you look at some of these name beautiful Palemanō all these different kinds...Ke‘omo you know beautiful names.

FL: Yes... [pointing to location on map] This was all grass.

KM: On the pali?

FL: All Greenwell's land.

KM: You know on the trails like that when you would, how come you walked over to Pu‘uohau...as far as Pu‘uohau?

FL: I was living at Ka‘awaloa.

KM: So you like to go holoholo?

FL: We used to go hook maiko, you know the process when they take the ink bag from the squid.

KM: From the he‘e, ‘ala‘ala?

FL: The he‘e yeah, the ‘ala‘ala.  You make bait.

KM; ‘Ae.

FL: You mix 'em, that's a secret.

KM: Put on your hook?

FL: Yes, you take little bit you put 'em on the hook.

KM: You going share your secret?

FL: [chuckling]

KM: Your secret mix?

FL: I know [chuckling]...

KM: You put ‘ala‘ala?

FL: Sometime the maiko like 'em smelly certain time certain time they like 'em kind of burned.

KM: Different season kind?

FL: Yes.  Certain time, they eat...what kind limu they eating...even use kerosene.

KM: Yes, I heard pearl oil yeah?

FL: Yes...hair oil, pomade...all kind stuff.

KM: You would go all the way from Ka‘awaloa?  Walk feet?

FL; I walk, yeah, with a pū‘olo.  Over there good for maiko that.

KM: Where by Pu‘uohau?

FL: Yes, over here, Nāwāwā, all over there good maiko place.

KM: And what you folks gather limu someplace here?

FL: Yes, get papa limu outside here.  Out Keawekāheka...

KM: Keawekāheka...yes.

FL: Yes, get one papa limu over there.  By the kind, what you call the papa now [shaking his head]...The Hawaiians before they used to take care.  The limu kohu the worse enemy is another limu, the limu kala.

KM: She grow over everything?

FL: She smother, yeah.  The Hawaiians when they see the limu kala growing they take 'em out.

KM: ‘Oki?

FL: Yes, take 'em out, but now nobody do that.

KM: That's right, so what the limu kohu all...?

FL: No more limu now, you go over there all take over, you see the big ball.

KM: Was that the way you were taught you go you take care?

FL: You take care, yeah.

KM: And what you can take everything today pau no need worry or what?

FL: Well, now days there's nothing to take.

WL: Take what you need.

KM: Yes, so before days your tūtū told you?

FL: Yes, if you see limu kala growing you take 'em out...leave only the...

KM: Good limu.

FL: You can go harvest the limu, then you wait a couple of months, you ready for another harvest cause the papa is well taken care.

KM: Always clean.

FL: Ke‘ei get one papa over there, nobody take care till now.

KM: That's amazing you know.  Not only did they take care of the fish or the ponds or go up mauka to the māla‘ai, but even the papa limu they go clean 'em.

FL: To the Hawaiians limu was medicine.

WL: [gestures] You pinch 'em.

KM: You pinch instead?  Rather than huki the root, otherwise you take the root what?

FL: You take your finger nail you dig 'em out of the base.

KM: Limu were used for medicines also?

FL: Yes, a good source of iodine.

WL: ‘Ahi poke any kind poke.

KM: Yes.

FL: That's for the liver and all, Hawaiians knew that.

WL: Kukui inamona together.

FL: Kukui.

KM: Amazing, wonderful story.

FL: I remember our kid days when you get lā‘au ho‘onāhā.

KM: ‘Ae.

FL: You had for clean you out...just like castor oil.  Soon as we feel upset stomach, our kūpuna tell us hey go get the kaliko...

KM: ‘Ae, ‘ae.

FL: Kaliko...we know Judge Kaliko?  "No, no, the plant."

KM: [chuckling] You thought was the judge.

FL: Then they tell you, show you this you take five, six you boil 'em you drink the water.  No take long you going clean out.

KM: Holo, clean ho‘oma‘ema‘e.

FL; Clean you up, yeah.

WL: He used to make lauhala hat too...

KM: You ulana too?

FL: My kid days, I used to weave.

KM: Where did you lauhala come from?

FL: Those days was depression years and that's how we get our poi.  The Japanese, Higashi...

KM: Higashi come down?

FL: He come down.

KM: Oh.

FL: My mama tell...half a dollar poi, those days half a dollar we get a big bag.

KM: Amazing!

FL: Half a dollar one big bag.

KM: And how the bag last all week?

FL: Those days no more plastic, get bag they sew.

KM: Rice bag?

FL: Rice bag, they make poi bag.  You empty 'em you clean 'em wash 'em out dry 'em...

KM: She go home?

FL: Wait when Higashi come again you give 'em back his bag he give you new bag again, that's how we live [chuckling]

KM: Amazing!

FL: And then I used to watch my mother weave.  I was going Nāpo‘opo‘o school that time.  "Mama, show me how for weave."  "Okay, you like learn?"  I say "Yes I like learn."  She show me how to strip the lauhala, how to take the kūkū out.  I go with her go all different places, go get lauhala.

KM: She'd go to all different places?

FL: Yes.

KM: Kahakai or little bit mauka?

FL: Most, below the mill down here had one big lauhala grove, and down Nāpo‘opo‘o had.

KM: Makai side?

FL: Yes, by the Kalawina church?

KM: ‘Ae.

FL: Was the side down, and you go inside there oh plenty lauhala we used to go climb the tree with a lou and come down.

KM: You hook, pull down?

FL: Pull with the hook.

KM: How[sic] nice kind length lauhala?

FL: Yes, long.

KM: More like your stretch of your arm?

FL: Long...then you cut the head.

KM: The hi‘u, po‘o?

FL: they get it with the crank.

KM: The wili, roller [chuckling]

FL: Wili.

KM: Did you folks used to whiten too or no need, just white in the sun?

FL: No, just natural after that they used to dye 'em and boil 'em.  I remember they used to use the kind haole soap for the washer.

KM: Yes.

FL: They boil the water.

KM: Borax?

FL: Borax, yeah... boil 'em and then they dry 'em come white, nice kind.

KM: Kind of like loulu cause when the loulu come white.

FL: Yes...and that was the life, I used to weave.

KM: You uluna pāpale?

FL: The only thing I never catch on hard, complicated, is the pā.  Get all kind names you know the different process...I know had maka, was when you put 'em on the lona, the block.

KM: ‘Ae, the block.

FL: Put 'em on the block then at first you weave the on top the pā.

KM: The piko, the pā, all different kind yeah, like you said.

FL: Yes, and you gotta run 'em on the sewing machine for lock 'em.

KM: Yes, for lock the piece.

FL: Then you gotta cross one go over, you cross one...complicated.

KM: I bet some of those pā was unique to a family if you saw the pā...

FL: Yes, that's the secret the pā on top.

WL: Some kind of meaning for the family.

KM: If you see that pā you know, "oh so and so went weave."

FL: The lady used to teach where I used to work up Yano Hall, she died already.  Junior Siriaco's wife LUka.  That wahine get some mind...she know all the pā of the different families.

KM: Amazing!

FL: She tell me the certain family this, certain family all this...that's the part to me...that's the only thing I never learn.

KM: But you was smart for the kohe for the brow and everything, hiki.

FL: The rest hiki and all...get hi‘i and the last one is when you bend 'em outside the brim.

KM: You pelu?

FL: Pelu, yeah and then you go back.  Mama used to make the pā and she pas 'em to me [chuckling].

KM: Maika‘i.  Do you remember, did your mama have a name for that pā?

FL: I guess so.  See, was passed down from her mother to her.

KM: Amazing.

FL: Yes, all the girls in the family, in the Gaspar family, all know how to weave.  Yes, that family was all...everyone, too good.  My aunty Annie the one used to stay down Nāpo‘opo‘o she was the one that really enjoyed the weaving.  She used to make hat and sell 'em all to the mainland, all over the place.

KM: Amazing!  And before, hat not big money, yeah?

FL: No.

KM: All that work, yeah?

FL: Higashi come down here we got five, six, ten hats for one bag poi.  The Japanese come rich [chuckling].  And the Hawaiian got to get their poi you know.

KM: That's how, need the poi... You ma‘a, you go all over, but you folks, like you said, were fisher people so you didn't have māla‘ai.  You would exchange or something between people or?

FL: Those days we used to like Higashi poi, we used to exchange...my mother used to make the hats and we exchange for poi.

KM: How about your ‘ōpelu, like now [pointing to the net on the table], this is one ‘upena for ‘ōpelu you making now?

FL: Yes.

KM: Amazing, eighty-three years old you kā ‘upena yet.

FL: My eyes good.

KM: Maika‘i, oh...

FL: Good eyes.

KM: Mahalo ke akua.

FL: I go check my eyes...my eyes twenty-twenty.  Only this eye when get cataract you see the big...I had the cataract taken out.

KM: Wonderful, amazing see get some good modern day stuff.

FL: Yes.

KM: Some pilau, but some good.  You kā ‘upena, how big is your?

FL: This one is one big net.

KM: About how deep would this net be?

FL: This net going end up being about six fathoms.

KM: Wow...and the ‘eke down to the bottom?

FL: This is the ‘eke.

KM: And the top how you make your ‘apo, what did you make the ‘apo with when you were young?

FL: We used the ‘ūlei stick.

KM: ‘Ūlei stick, oh.  Where did you get your ‘ūlei from?

FL: We go down Manukā.

KM: You folks go holoholo all the way out Manukā?

FL: We go over there and you gotta join each one.

KM: About how long was each paukū, each section like?

FL: About like this [gestures length].

KM: Four feet or so?

FL: Then you got to notch 'em and make one pū‘ali they call it.  [gestures, the notches interlocking]

KM: Yes, pū‘ali so she bite in.

FL: So you can tie and you cross and you skip every opposite side...so they bend against each other.

KM: Logical...

FL: Make 'em round.

KM: You go out in the canoe...it's open straight out?

FL: Yes.

KM: Can you describe how you go ‘ōpelu fishing?

FL: Well, ‘ōpelu has...this is what I found out later had this guy used to come and he was what you call...I'll call him fish scientist.  He studied the marine animal and fish, whatever.  According to him this ‘ōpelu ko‘a...actually the ‘ōpelu feed on plankton and small minute shrimp.  He said where you get a heavy concentration of this plankton you going see ‘ōpelu.  That's the idea of ‘ōpelu ko‘a, plenty plankton, you going get ‘ōpelu feed on 'em.  And he told me how you make one plankton net.

KM: Oh.

FL: You know the small mosquito net...you make one net and you throw 'em overboard and you drag 'em, you drag 'em then you pull 'em up you check.  He said sometimes you got to use magnifying glass for see 'em.  Then he say when you get the heaviest concentration going get ‘ōpelu.

KM: But you, you folks already knew where your ko‘a were, you didn't need a scientist to come.  What was your bait, did you go out hānai sometime and not fish?

FL: Actually, yes.  Later on the old-timers used to tell me certain time of the year, usually after January, February one of those months.  Hardly any ‘ōpelu, I don't know why.  But I guess that's the month that not too many plankton.  The old-timers used to tell me they go, they go hānai, they go feed.  And they say when the time for feed you better not go out with one net, he said they turn your canoe over.

KM: Oh yeah, so just like kapu.

FL: Yes, it's a no play thing you know, they're serious.  He said they catch you with one net they turn the...[chuckling] canoe over.

KM: What did you feed them?

FL: Mostly taro those days.  Pumpkin you can use pumpkin.

KM: Pala‘ai.

FL: Pumpkin, taro you grate 'em.

WL: Avocado, pear.

FL: Pear afterwards, avocado we used to use avocado.  I guess you can use anything.

KM: You folks, there's so much pilikia now cause some people go out they make hauna, yeah pilau kind.

FL: You know actually I don't believe in that theory 'cause common sense tell you where you get small fish in the school they going see big fish come around.  Just like you see one nice wahine you going see plenty bulls around [chuckling].

KM: The kumū [chuckling].

Group: [chuckling]

FL: Yes.  They say..they go put chop-chop, they make hauna the big fish come in...not true.  I've known times where during our time fishing when the ‘ōpelu get scarce.  The ko‘a that we use chop-chop get the most ‘ōpelu.  I don't know why.  They say oh I don't know...the Hawaiians believe that you use chop-chop, me I believe plenty ‘ōpelu you going get ‘ahi, you going get swordfish.

KM; ‘Ae.

FL: I've seen swordfish, I've seen ‘ahi in fact one swordfish went right through my net, took one side.

KM: ‘Auwē, in your ‘ōpelu net?

FL: Yes, went right through one side out the other side.  One other time one ‘ahi went inside my net he went follow the ‘ōpelu.

KM: Uncle, some of the kūpuna, the old lawai‘a, they told me "if you feed pilau to your fish though...stink kind bait you going eat that too," right?

FL: Yes.

KM: So that's why you folks you used kalo you said.  Did you use ‘uala some?

FL: Can be used, yeah.

KM: Pala‘ai?

FL: Pumpkin.

KM: And then later pea like that?

FL: Avocado.

KM: You would go out, what kind of depth for your ‘ōpelu?

FL: ‘Ōpelu usually not more than twenty fathoms, they kind of inside.

KM: You drop your net and how...how did you go out, can you describe when you go out your canoe?

FL: Well, you make sure you have your net you put 'em on the canoe and you go out to these different ko‘a and you throw the palu you feed.

KM: ‘Ae.

FL: Then they come, sometimes what they call ka‘awili the long line of school of ‘ōpelu.

KM: Ka‘awili.

FL: Ka‘awili, they call that, some guys different way that they...you know the ka‘awili is one, then what they call holo papa you see 'em down just like one shelf and they all moving.

KM: Together...

FL: That's holo papa.  That's the buggah usually eat the palu, they come for the bait.  Sometimes the ka‘awili they only stay over there they no...I think they eating plankton maybe.

WL: Or waiting till the current change.

KM: Yes.  YOu go...do you have pakā you drop down?

FL: Yes, we have one rag...kind of.

KM: Square?

FL: [takes piece of paper and folds it down in manner used for fishing]  Not a really square kind of offset and one lead in the center then you put the palu inside you fold the corner on and then you throw.  You throw 'em down so far and you shake 'em, you jerk 'em and the thing spill out.

KM: Open up.  And so the ‘ōpelu all come?

FL: They all go for the palu.

KM: You know you go out Kekaha.  Ka‘ūpūlehu side they put lepo inside also with the ‘ōpae ‘ula.

FL: Yes, that's how they use the red ‘ōpae, and it's a special way.  To get the ‘ōpae, they go in the pond...And the secret of that ‘ōpae is how to get 'em, how to catch 'em.  If you go in the day they all in the cracks, and the Hawaiians knew that in the night they float.

KM: Lana?

FL: What they call lana...‘ōpae lana...that's the name of the ‘ōpae, lana to float.  You go in the night they all on the surface, you scoop.

KM: Yes, smart.

FL: That's how they catch 'em.

KM: You folks here didn't use ‘ōpae?

FL: No, we used the palu.

KM: The palu, and you no need use lepo to shadow?

FL: No need.

KM: No need.

FL: You see the trick is if you get about three those small red shrimp we throw 'em in the ka‘a‘ai.  Ka‘a‘ai is the one that feeds.  You throw 'em in the ka‘a‘ai, the three, four ‘ōpae then you get one handful mud you throw 'em inside, fold 'em in and throw.  You see the idea is no put too many ‘ōpae...because hard to get.  The lepo like you said, the mud, you going see all, just like [gestures opening out].

KM: Spread out?

FL: Then the ‘ōpelu going inside that lepo, go look for that three shrimp.  You no grab one whole hand shrimp...[chuckling] No take long, you going get no more.

KM: [chuckling] Yes, yes.

FL: That's the trick.

KM: So in other words the lepo?

FL: The lepo is for camouflage make 'em go find.

KM: So when you huki ‘upena they no see 'em?

FL: Right, two purpose.  When you throw net, when you kūkulu, when you put the palu in the center of the net... You this ‘ōpelu net get the rings coming up.

KM: ‘Ae.  Like three or four...

FL: When you ka‘a‘ai right in the center you shake 'em, the mud going...

KM: Open?

FL: Kind of make 'em hard for see.  The ‘ōpelu go in the mud, he no can see the net coming up around him by the time he know he stay in the net.

KM: Too good yeah...

FL: That's the idea of the mud.

KM: Did you folks do that here, or you no need?

FL: No.

KM: Only your palu enough?

FL: The Kailua people did 'em.

KM: Kailua, yes.  You folks what, you drop the net down, you ku‘u the ‘upena?

FL: Yes, you ku‘u.

KM: And then you throw the pakā?

FL: Then you feed.

KM: And what the fish just stay there and you can pull the net up they no run away?

FL: Well, they're eating.

KM: So they nanea so much eating they don't...

FL: They eating, but they get what they call the school boy, the buggah's been through the mill they know how to run away.

KM: Yes, the ‘au‘a like.

FL: ‘Au‘a, that's what they call 'um, the ‘au‘a...that's what we call school boy they graduate.

KM: School boy he graduate already, graduated from the first net.

Group: [chuckling]

FL: He sees the net, he comes straight up.

WL: That's the one tell you where the fish stay.

KM: Yes, that's right so you no like bother the ‘au‘a maybe.

FL: That's the one teach the new fellow how to eat.

KM: Maika‘i.

WL: Yes, he teach 'em how to eat.

FL: He teach 'em.

KM: Too good.

FL: That's why you go to the ko‘a, you bang the paddle...bang, bang.

KM: On the side of the canoe?

FL: You see the first one come that's the school boy, ‘au‘a.

KM: Because you trained him already, time to eat.

FL: They going train the other one.

KM: That's why you go out hānai sometimes and no fish?

FL: Yes.

KM: So you bang the side of the canoe with the paddle?

FL: And the old-timers they no like catch the ‘au‘a.

KM: Ah...too good.

FL: Yes.

KM: You make your ‘apo, you still would go get ‘ūlei you lash 'em together.  You go out it's straight on the canoe?

WL: Yes.

KM: When you get to the ko‘a you ‘apo.

FL: Yes.  Then you throw.

WL: You throw one in, and one under the canoe, one away.

FL: The head...you poke one inside the ring and then you squeeze 'em then you squeeze the other ring over [gestures with hands a ring being drawn over the two ends of the ‘apo, locking them together as one].

KM: Oh, so you would make rings by that time...too good.

FL: One small ring and one big ring.  First you throw the ‘eke, and it goes down, then you throw the body down, the last going be the stick.

KM: ‘Ae.

FL: Take the stick and the fisherman in front the other guy behind.  You tell 'um one, two...throw on number three.  One, two, throw the outside stick, poke 'um under the canoe, the inside one.  You poke 'em under the canoe and you poke 'um in the small ring then you squeeze the two together.  You squeeze the big ring over, and you let 'um go.

KM: And she go down.  So you drop 'em down?

FL: Drop 'em down to about maybe seven fathoms.

KM: Amazing!

WL: If you rush, not patient, the thing broke.

FL: Broke, yeah!  How many time that happen.  You know, plenty people get all excited, go!  broke the stick.