Leslie, Fred Kaimalino with Weston Leslie (Part 3)

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: ‘Auwē no ho‘i, so pau you go home.

FL: Then we make 'em out of iron.

KM: Ah, so forget the ‘ūlei make iron kind now?

FL: Iron kind.

KM: [chuckling]

FL: Plastic now.

KM: Plastic, you mean the p-v-c kind, pipe now?

WL: Fiber glass.

FL: Fiber glass.

WL: Before those days, was real strict.  The ‘ōpelu, when you feed time, everybody had their turn to feed.

FL: Yes, we take turn no, no buck ass.

KM: ‘Ae.  So was there a main lawai‘a nui out for you folks here?

FL: They say according to the old-timers, usually the village get one what you call the head fisherman.  He decide when to fish, and when they go out they get agreement, they call one another.  How you doing, I get three or four ka‘au easy, then they... [gestures, pulling up the net and returns to shore]

KM: Who was the lawai‘a nui for you folks?

FL: Acutally, by our time we never had.

KM: Oh was pau...but people still aloha?

WL: The fish, two, three weeks, you got to feed before you go get 'um.

FL: Yes, yes.

KM: That's how you trained them though, yeah?  So then you tap the side of the canoe?

FL: You bang the paddle.

KM: Bang the paddle and they already knew, come, yeah?

FL: Yes.  I remember going with...when pau shcool we go home.  We go down by the beach we watch the canoes.  And I ask if they need ka‘a‘ai man... The ka‘a‘ai man, he is the one feed.  He said, "Yes come, go out."

KM: Hmm, you go holoholo.

FL: You even go help them carry the canoe, they give you ‘ōpelu.

KM: ‘Ae, hāpai wa‘a.

FL: Hāpai wa‘a.

KM: So whoever would come, kōkua.

FL: Yes.

KM: They māhele i‘a.

WL: They give you ‘ōpelu.

KM: How nice yeah.  when everyone kōkua.

FL: Yes.  Now you go, ala!

WL: They look at Washington [dollars].

Group: [chuckling]

FL: Before the old-timers, when their time for feed, they feed alone and no fool around, they're serious.

KM: This is wonderful though, maika‘i kou no‘ono‘o, ho‘omana‘o ‘oe.

FL: That's right...

Group: [discusses changes on land, and impacts on fisheries]

FL: ...You see, the early days the Nāpo‘opo‘o here, we used to get mean floods you know.

KM: Oh.

FL: You know the coffee mill down here?

KM: Yes.

FL: It almost got inundated with water.

KM: You're kidding so big ua, mauka, kahe ka wai?

FL: The ranches mauka...that's the Greenwell ranch up here.  One section there, what they did they went bulldoze.  They had the bulldozers up in the mountain.

KM: Way mauka?

FL: Nobody knew, they were bulldozing up there, same thing...after that one of nephews you know, Butchy, he was working with the ranch.  I used to go hunt pig with him up there.

KM: Kealakekua?

FL: Up Kealakekua Ranch.  Then when I went up there with him I look... [shaking his head]

KM: Ahuwale, everything open up?

FL: This is where the flood came from.

KM: So, this was after the war then time?

FL: Oh yes.

KM: So way after the war time.

FL: When I went up there I said, this is where the water was coming from.  They were doing exactly what they did down... [thinking - points north]

KM: When Hōkūkano went bulldoze.

FL: Hōkūkano.

KM: You open up the land, the water just going flow when rain.

FL: You see what hold the land together is the roots.  You get roots, trees you take that away and you get one big rain that's what going be.  Everthing going...up here bare rock you can see the base rock.

KM: What happens when the mud all wash into your old ko‘a, your fisheries?

FL: What happens?

WL: Run away.

FL: Then no more.

KM: The fish no can, live... Oh mahalo nui i kou lokomaika‘i.

FL: I respect those days.

KM: You got to respect the old times, yeah?

FL: Sure.  But now what they doing, look over here, they caught 'em already.  Now they finally admit.

KM: Yes...Hey uncle, you made me think, did you folks have a shark out here that used to help you folks do you remember ever hearing about one shark?

FL: Yes, the Hawaiians used to call him Ka‘ilipulapula.

KM: Ka‘ilipulapula...ohh!

FL: It's not a superstitious thing, what they called that, is a whale shark.

KM: Big!

FL: You can swim with 'um, he not going bite you.  'Cause why they call 'em whale shark?  You know the whale, whale is a big thing.  Get big mouth and all that but the throat you no can put your fist inside, you no can ram your fist in the throat.  They only eat small things, plankton...

KM: Hmm.  So Ka‘ilipulapula?

FL: That's the one spotted...

KM: That's the shark for this place?

FL: The scientific name is Grampus.

KM: Oh you na‘auao.  This Ka‘ilipulapula was the shark for you folks?

FL: Yes, the Hawaiians say thats kū‘ula like, our fish god.

WL: Sometimes, I'm out there fishing, it comes by me.

KM: You see that fish?

FL: That's true you know.

WL: Come by my boat.

FL: You see that shark come the school ‘ōpelu follow.  They follow the bugga, for protection, I guess.

WL: Rub the back under the boat.

FL: Yes, he come rub the back, some guys they scared they think the buggah going attack, but I tell you...

KM: Big eh, maybe 30-something feet?

FL: Yes.  I don't know we have one boat about twenty-seven feet long, grandpa's small boat, and the buggah was longer [chuckling] than the boat.

KM: Amazing!

FL: He go under there rub his back.

WL: [chuckling] Itchy, the back.

KM: Did you ever hear, did the kūpuna ever go kahe clean the shark or feed it?

FL: My father-in-law used to tell me he used to...first he was scared then he said his father told him, "No that shark not going bother you."  The old man Lou.  He said when they do that that thing, the coral Hawaiians call 'um ‘āko‘ako‘a.  The ‘āko‘ako‘a grow on the back, the thing irritates 'um.  And that's the time he come he rub his back on the canoe.  So when he sees that, he poke 'um with the paddle broke the ‘āko‘ako‘a, take 'um off.  He going like that.

KM: That's right.

FL: And then my father-in-law said "Yes, the more you poke, the more he like come."

KM: Just like one ‘īlio, how the dog like come, you know, you scratch the back.

Group: [chuckling]

FL: Yes.  I've seen that... Grandpa and I used to chase aku on his small boat.  We used what you call the makau pā, made out of pearl.

KM: ‘Ae, the mother of pearl, pā.

FL: The mother of pearl the plate.

KM: You folks used to make your own?

FL: Yes, I get some under the house someplace.

KM: Wow...uncle take care of those make sure that someone who will appreciate it.  I don't know if your nephew or somebody or otherwise nalowale, pau.

FL: Yes, I used to make 'em...

KM: Please that's important...and what you make olonā you tie 'em.

FL: Tie 'em with the hook.  But the old timers used to use the bone hook eh.  The shin bone [gestures down to his leg].

KM: From the shin bone...the barb.

FL: The Hawaiian said, "you get the kind leg no more hair..." oh they like that.

KM: Lucky me!

Group: [chuckling]

FL: The bone strong.  Some of them they ask 'em "if you go make I can have your shin bone for make hook?"

KM: When 'ohana, not bad, maybe 'ohana the kūpuna like help.

FL: Yes.

WL: Too good.

KM: Amazing...so good, you still made pā like that?

FL: I know how to make the pā.

KM: You go out you used to go out for aku?

FL: Yes, used to go out and chase school aku.  I've seen the Grampus, the whale shark, I see what the aku used to chase the pīhā, like minnow.  They all group up like one tight ball and then I see this Grampus, we pass I look gee, "grandpa look the shark."  Grandpa he look he tell me, "Oh that's old Ka‘ilipulapula , he going eat fish" [smiling].  The buggah he go down he stand on his tail in the water, he stand like this [gestures with arm, the shark standing up on the surface of the water], he come up and the pīhā all spinning, scared the aku.  The ball spinning, and the buggah he come up and open his mouth... [chuckling] The buggas come all one time.

KM: Get 'em all one time?

FL: He get 'em and all the scales coming out from the gill.  I stop the boat, I watch, I see all the gills.  Sparkle, eh?  That damn buggah went stand up.  [chuckling]

KM: She come straight up, amazing...kūpaianaha!

FL: Hoo, the mouth big you know...you see white.

KM: That is amazing... [end of Side B, tape 1; begin Side A, tape 2]

WL: Too good no.

FL: The buggah with the mouth, you can jump inside...the mouth bigger than the icebox.

KM: More than six feet across, more big.

FL: Yes...he scoop the whole school.  Interesting...I remember that year, I never see so much pīhā...

KM: Interesting, yeah.

FL: [speaking to Weston] You remember the year the fire fish they call that, that year the thing went we used to see 'em outside, we go flag line look like one reef. 

WL: When the volcano erupt.

FL: Look like one reef.

KM: What you call that fish, ‘alalauā?

FL: ‘Alalauā, that's baby ‘āweoweo.

KM: Yes, that's the one?

FL: No, this one is I don't know just like one hage [the Japanese name for the fish].

WL: When the volcano erupt, come.

FL: Yes.

KM: What color is that fish?

WL: Gray, yellow, black.

FL: Yellow dots.  when you go look 'em outside there just like one reef floating.

KM: Amazing...

WL: All make in the water.

FL: Millions.  Then they die off, no more nothing to eat I guess.  Then I remember me and daddy them, we go by the ‘ōpelu ko‘a, all by the ‘ōpelu ko‘a, they come pile up on the shore.  By the wharf, there, loaded!

KM: You folks had ‘ō‘io out here too?  You go for ‘ō‘io?

WL: Yes.

FL: ‘Ō‘io used to be our raw fish, oh that's a winner.

KM: That's what I heard...Leslie family famous.

WL: Awa, ‘ō‘io, still yet, in the bay.

FL: With onion.

KM: ‘Ae, inamona, pa‘akai little limu.

FL: That and poi 'nough.

KM: Lawa yeah...good, when you can off the ‘āina you go make pa‘akai you get your i‘a.

FL: Yes.

KM: Someone come, ‘ohana come bring pa‘i ‘ai.

FL: Come from the mountain, bring taro.

WL: I was telling you about Nāpo‘opo‘o you know where the mud pond stay.

FL: Hikiau.

WL: They get all the alā rock, they when set in that pond way before, daddy was talking about.

FL: Yes, that's why, when you go in the pond, guys say you go inside you going sink down...no, the inside all alā stone.  All set.  Had one old lady, Masuhara...old lady she all kuapu‘u, she go inside with a... [thinking]

KM: Kāē‘ē, net go?

FL: Yes, the kind pole net.

KM: Get ‘ōpae?

FL: I remember I go inside there I ask the old lady, I pity her she small, old.

KM: Was she Hawaiian or pure Japanese?

FL: Japanese...Akira Masuhara that's the mother.  They had one house inside there, then.  That's during the flood time, the flood when take the house and throw 'em in the ‘ōpae pond.

KM: Aloha.  Do you remember the name of the ‘ōpae pond?

FL: I don't know the name but I knew the heiau, Hikiau.  In fact one time we was working for the county we went restore that thing.

KM: You did restore it?

FL: Yes.

KM: What is your mana‘o, you know uncle like these trails or like the heiau.  Is it okay for people to travel the trails if they respect, do you think or should?

FL: Sure, if they respect but no go around and take things over there and what.

KM: Yes, so just like the heiau or something if they take care, clean up...for like you, when kama‘āina that's good, yeah?

FL: Yes.  After all the human being, that's not an animal.

KM: Yes, yes.

FL: In a sense it is an animal but we educated not like one...

KM: Supposed to be educated [chuckles].

FL: Supposed to be [chuckles].

KM: Some, they no treat people nice...so that's the thing you know as we're looking at this we're trying to figure out for the historic preservation with the trails and things here.  If it's okay for people to use the trail but they need to be smart.  They can't just go ‘auwana anywhere, touch anything?

FL: Yes, sure you know.

WL: Take care.

KM: Yes, mālama, aloha.

FL: Take care.

WL: Don't destroy...

KM: May I ask you, did you ever go out Ki‘ilae side?