Leslie, Fred Kaimalino with Weston Leslie (Part 4)

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.

FL: Ki‘ilae...where?

KM: Past Hōnaunau.

FL: Oh yeah, by the pali?

KM: Yes, Alahaka you remember Alahaka?

FL: Alahaka, yeah.

KM: You used to go up there?

FL: Yes, I used to go down throw net down the one you go down by McCandless ranch...had reef over there.

KM: Ki‘ilae, Kauleolī, Ho‘okena...

FL: Yes, the next reef, what that?

WL: Kalahiki.

KM: Oh, Kalahiki.  How you go walk feet all the way?

FL: There's a trail going down.

KM: You would drive mauka road and then walk down?

FL: Go down the trail...

KM: ...You know Hikiau and the pond you were talking about?

FL: Yes.

KM: If we come back look at this map here.  This is the Nāpo‘opo‘o and what, look who's name is here, lalua.  He had this in the Māhele his original land before, was over here.  This lalua just like Awahua them, these families spread out all over this ‘āina.

WL: The kind the chanting lady before?

KM: Oh, ‘Iolani Luahine...you look here, here's Luahine over here, and see ‘Iolani, her papa was Makekau.

FL: Makekau, yeah.

KM: Here's Makekau's place right here, Simmerson is above the road.  Makekau just below here that's how they got the ‘āina.

FL: You know something, now you mentioned these things going on.  From what I understand the Great Māhele was which Kamehameha, the third?

KM: Three, yes you're right.

FL: Kamehameha the third...that's when he went divide that land among the people.

KM: Yes.

FL: Now, you know the one grandpa went rap horns with, the Bishop Estate, my dad believed that Bishop Estate stole this land.

KM: What ‘āina?

FL: Then I remember way back, Cushingham used to the bank manager.

KM: That's right, that's why was pilikia.

FL: Cushingham, he had another Japanese guy he was the land...taking care the leases and all that.  I remember distinctly had one family down by...you know where Andrade had one house down by Keawaiki.

WL: Yes.

FL: They used to call that place.

KM: Where is that, what land is that?

WL: The wife was a school teacher,  Vredenburg.

FL: Had one family over there...Vredenburg sold the land to Andrade I guess, or he sold the lease.  But Vredenburg was leasing the land from Bishop Estate.  On that land way back when I was small boy, I was about five years old.  I remember had one family, Hea... H-e-a.  Originally, they from Waimea.  Had kind a...you know the kind haole stay among the Hawaiians...Parker.  I think he related to the Parker that own the Parker ranch.

KM: Sam Parker mā.

FL: Later became Smart, I don't know where the Smart came.

KM: Parker because the wahine married Smart, that's why.

FL: That's how Smart?

KM: Yes.

FL: He came smart! [chuckling]

Group: [chuckling]

FL: Anyway, that guy came down here...kicked them out of the land.  I remember till this day seeing that lady crying putting all her stuff in the kind.  You know the old people used to get this woven basket like.

KM: ‘Eke?

FL: ‘Eke...supposed to be made in China those things.

KM: That old kind, Chinese kind...rattan?

FL: Poor thing, she cried, and then he kicked 'em out.  They actually stole the land.  Now that land was deeded over to Kanele, one Hawaiian by the name of Kanele.

KM: Oh right here ma‘ane‘i here's Kanele right here.

FL: Kanele, I don't know what he was a high chief or something.

KM: So the ahupua‘a of Kahauloa.

FL: That's ahupua‘a land you know, nothing to those...yes Kahauloa.

KM: That's why see this Māhele award, 204...Kanele.  Right across from where Kapule, Palau mā were...Mona's grandpa them, right across there you see.

FL: Anyway...

KM: So they lost that ‘āina?

FL: I remember my dad arguing with Cushingham...my dad said, "You guys stole that damn land, that land get Māhele Award to Kanele.  That's Kamehameha the third dividing his land with the people."  And why he give 'em to certain people, because Kanele used to be in charge of the ahupua‘a.

KM: Konohiki like, he manage, oversee?

FL: Yes, he get one guy and he do the collection of the taxes and all of that for the King, so the king gave him this land.

KM: Was pilau time.

FL: And then Cushingham tells my dad, "Oh that was possessed by the Government from not paying taxes."  Now if that's so, somewhere got to be record right.

KM: You would think so.

FL: If the Government is on the up and up somewhere got to be a record.  Good excuse on his part, yeah.  But where is the record for say it was possessed for non-payment of taxes.  They just plain stole the land that's all.  This Japanese, kick 'em off...

KM: Vredenburg was living there too for a while?

FL: Yes, Vredenburg.

KM: That's Vredenburg.

FL: I don't know which Vredenburg...from Ka‘ū, that Vredenburg [Ernest].

KM: Oh, amazing.  Hoo, you remember so much.

FL: Yes, I don't know...I try.  [chuckles]

KM: Mahalo...[pauses] Plenty of the families here have lost their lands, I guess?

FL: Plenty, plenty.

KM: I see here's your old school Nāpo‘opo‘o school and just a little more mauka was the church Kahikolu?

FL: Yes, Nāpo‘opo‘o school I remember seeing the...you know those days they used to make the building out of coral.

KM: Oh yeah, mortar.

FL: They cook 'em.  They kālua that thing in the imu.

KM: ‘Ae.

FL: And the coral as a certain degree melt and they plaster the stones with the coral.

KM: And that's how the old schoolhouse was?

FL: Yes, it's still there I remember the frame, the window all the opening.  My mother used to go down there when we were kids she tell me, "This used to be our school."  We used to go over there pick lauhala, and she tell me "this was our school."  I ask here "Mama how many kids used to go school?"  She said those days "Only about thirty.  The whole school was thirty kids."

KM: And below Kahikolu, that's Moku‘ōhai the old battle field?  Did you?

FL: Kahikolu...

KM: Is that right Moku‘ōhai?

FL: Moku‘ōhai is more over.

KM: More over.

FL: That's south, that's around Kīpū.  Get one road, you know the road going down where the well is?  There's a well.  There was a road going down that was the Moku‘ōhai road you can walk 'em, a trail you know.

KM: Yes.

FL: The Moku‘ōhai trail, that's a battle field, Ke‘ei battle field.

WL: You know, has one foundation, one high wall and get one opening over there get one big turtle the Hawaiians made.

KM: Just like a stone turtle.

WL: The hump of the back, the legs, the tail and then get some house pads, with the medicine kind rocks.  Nice clean round top, hollow in the top, and then get the piko rock, the Hawaiian kind.  And the kū‘ula rock, the āholehole...

FL: The fish come, yeah.

WL: Still there.

KM: Amazing.

FL: I get one stone, you try look at this stone [goes to get a stone]... I showed him this stone as soon as he look he tell me "polishing stone."  Then he tell me where you get this?  It just caught my eye, down at Nāpo‘opo‘o.  You can see where the finger rest, and then they use it for polishing the canoes.  What a hard life no, you think, now we go with the sandpaper...

KM: And electric too.

FL: I tell you one story about you know the old man Moku‘ōhai?

KM: ‘Ae.

FL: He was one kālai wa‘a, he make canoes.  So this haole guy came one time.  He went stop by Shimizu's store they had this shop right across the road.  He see this guy struggling.  He go over there introduce himself.  This guy was one woodworker from the mainland.  He said what you doing?  Making canoe, All hand power [gestures using a ko‘i, adze or chisel].  The guy, he got interested he stayed there watch he never say nothing.  Then he pau, finally he left he went to the hotel.  Bum by, before he left Moku‘ōhai tell 'em his address, he went back to the mainland he sent him all the tools, all electric.

KM: Ohh!

FL: The kind for inside, half round...oh the old man go with the chisel...

KM: This was Charlie, Charlie Moku‘ōhai?

FL: Charlie, people go over there he tell us the story, he told me the story.  I tell that's one good haole I can tell you.

Group: [all chuckling]

FL: Should be more of that type.  He said he send me all the tools.

KM: Hmm.  That's amazing.  Uncle, mahalo so much...

FL: ...You know the olden days, I remember and you don't see that now.  Certain days, usually summer months, on a Saturday they used to plan and down Nāpo‘opo‘o village, had this family Ka‘io, Louie Ka‘io, I remember him.  He had this special net and we used to go, and they made this ‘eke and two wings open the ‘upena ku‘u, what you call cross net.  They drop the bag and they had this...what you call the kind tree on the lava?  [thinking]

FL: ‘Ōhi‘a...they call 'em lehua but actually the wood is ‘ōhi‘a in some part of the Hawaiian Islands ‘ōhi‘a that's tomatoes.

KM: That's right they call 'em tomatoes.  They were making this and the ‘eke you said was maybe...

FL: Get ‘ōhi‘a stick holding 'em open, and on top, ‘īkoi.  The ‘īkoi is hau, they shape 'em into floaters.  When you get this...the bottom you put those days they used to use stone for led.

KM: Pōhaku for led.

FL: For hold the bottom down.

KM: Yes.

FL: Had this kind heavy, something like this and they notch 'em, put a notch in 'em.

KM: That's right.

FL: That hold the bottom down and on top the ‘īkoi, the ‘īkoi like float.  When you look inside oh nice open.  The pā was the kind...and they no dye the net they leave 'em white cause when the fish see 'em they keep away.  You like 'em do that so then you keep 'em together, then you can chase 'em.  They go certain spot and this guy we used to call Humakū, Ship Humakū.  He used to be the head fisherman.  He go all this what you call ku‘una.

KM: ‘Ae.

FL: Ku‘una mean the where you going put your net.

KM: Set 'em down.

FL: They go there take care the coral so no hihia.  If the coral in the way, they broke 'em they kill 'em that's the ku‘una.

KM: That's the net set place.

FL: They put it in then us we go and then we chase 'em.

KM: Paipai...

FL: We chase paipai and then some guys in a canoe with a long stick with apipe on the end when you hit the pipe down sound like spear, metal hoo, they take off...and they go in one pile when they come by the net the ‘eke they stall.  From behind they dive off the canoe when the one guy give the signal, go...we dive off the canoe when you go way down you make whoa, that kind noise.  The fish take off all inside the ‘eke.  You make that kind noise, whoa!

KM: What kind of fish?

FL: All kind, maiko, uhu, everthing inside there.

KM: And the ‘eke was about?

FL: Big buggah, big like this room [about 30 feet across].

KM: You said had wings out on the side?

FL: Had wings out.

KM: Did you close the net or?

FL: No, when they set the net in front of the ‘eke get this just like one flap.

KM: Yes.

FL: When we chase the fish in, when the fish is inside the ‘eke already, we take this flap and we...

KM: Close em?

FL: And that flap is lead so we throw 'em over the mouth, lock 'em over the net, where the ‘īkoi come across.  And then they go they take the outside, the pā, the net.  Take 'em out, get that and then they bring the ‘eke out.

KM: About how dep was the ‘eke you think?

FL: I think about the length of this room.

KM: As much as 30 feet then.

FL: And about half that size in width.

KM: Maybe about fifteen feet wide.

FL: About that.

KM: Amazing, wow!  That'a a unique style of fishing.

FL: And the fish we catch.

KM: Who was the head fisherman you said?

FL: Ship we used to call him Ship Humakū.

KM: Humakū?

FL: Humakū, yeah.

KM: Hawaiian?

FL: Hawaiian, and a good fisherman that buggah, good net fishing throw net any kind.

KM: Every Saturday you folks would go down certain times?

FL: Not every Saturday, come the summer months.

KM: Ah...were there seasons, were there certain times in the moon too or?

FL: I don't know why, but I know was summer months.

KM: Summer months.

FL: We used to go...where the canoe goes we catch 'em, we had one big canoe.  You remember Kaliko, Judge Moku, he had one big canoe, fill 'em up full.

KM: How you folks would always share?

FL: The amazing thing is you wait couple of months, you go again the fish there, no take long they repopulate.  Why, I wouldn't know.

KM: May I ask you though, when you folks were fishing was it only you folks?  People from different places wouldn't come down to fish and take?

FL: No, was mostly the village people.

KM: So, was mostly the village people.

FL: Some people from more mauka, the Hawaiians mahi‘ai...

KM: ‘Ae.  But see they must have traded, kuapo, when you exchange things like that but they were of this land.

FL: Yes.

KM: Someone from say, Kailua maybe, wouldn't come fish your place?

FL: No.

KM: That's why cause the guy who watching right...they knew when the fish come strong again, not like now you get everybody come they go launch boat your place from Hilo.  And you know pau, everybody fish.

FL: And those days, I remember ‘ōpelu fishing we used to go, go out feed, then usually we get about five canoes out there feeding then one guy would yell, "pehea oe, how you making out?"  The guys say maybe about three ka‘au eating and they ask the other guy how are you, how are you...okay and they say "okay we all ku‘u."  I throw my net, you throw, everybody throw their net.  One time they pull, pau they go home.

KM: Pau, so you know waste.

FL: Today, they go with ice they bang that ko‘a all day so wipe out.

KM: Wipe out...

FL: That's the result, wipe out.  That's the difference, one pull they go home.

KM: They say ‘ānunu.

FL: ‘Ānunu.  Yes that's the word, only thing ‘ānunu, greedy.

KM: They greedy, because they take everything and they no think and then next week they go down the next land, then the next just like your ‘ōpihi or what.  Pau, everything wipe out.

FL: Gone now gone.

KM: Before you folks could go out Ka‘awaloa anywhere go get ‘ōpihi like that.

FL: Before we used to go you know when you get lū‘au, we used to go down thisplace Pōhakupuka, that stone coming out of the water.  And the amazing thing about that stone, the water go right out of the bay until about five hundred yards from shore right outside there ninety fathoms.

KM: Amazing!

FL: How the hell did that stone come there.

KM: Maybe was one old pali before, extending out, left that stack...

FL: There's got to be some definition.  And the ‘ōpihi, you walk on the ‘ōpihi.  When we get lū‘au, somebody get married, we used to go down there.  You pound the ‘ōpihi all day...

KM: Is that Kolo side?

FL: This side of Miloli‘i, you know where the place they call Pāpā?

KM: Yes, Pāpā.

FL: Right down there.  Miloli‘i used to be the same thing, Miloli‘i was noted for their ‘ōpelu.

KM: Now the fishermen all messed up because they come in over there, they say the guys come in with chop-chop or make dog, pilau kind they spoil the ko‘a because they would only go with the pala‘ai like that or stuff.

FL: There used to be only palu.

KM: Kalo.

FL: Pala‘ai.

KM: Then they poison their ko‘a.

WL: Chop-chop to me is a good palu.

KM: As long as clean but if you go to someone's koa and they don't use that then you going change their ko‘a.

WL: There you go.

KM: And that's when the pilikia.  'Cause if the kama‘āina only fish certain way, you come throw something else in the fish not going for the kama‘āina.

FL: I remember the Kailua people used to come down by...you know Nāwāwā...

KM: ‘Ae.

FL: We used to call 'em ‘ōpelu house, had one lonely house by itself and we used to catch ‘ōpelu over there.

KM: On the south side of Nāwāwā or the Kailua side?

FL: On the south side.

KM: On the south side of Nāwāwā.

FL: That's why we used to call 'em ‘ōpelu house.

KM: ‘Ōpelu house.

WL: ‘Ōpelu ko‘a, that.

FL: That's where we used to catch 'em and bait for long line, go get our bait.  In fact there are ko‘a all around, some that we don't know of.  And the old timers tell me outside in Ka‘awaloa right outside the monument used to be the great ko‘a over there, ‘ōpelu.  Today, no more ‘ōpelu over there.  You see along here along the pali all ‘ōpelu.

WL: Uncle Fred, Antone Grace?

FL: Antone Grace, Smoky.  We used to call him Smoky.

KM: He was over here too?

FL: He was one canoe builder, that old man.

KM: Antone Lono Grace.

FL: Antone Grace.  He had one son, Ako, that's the carver.  That Antone I knew him from one baby.  He used to go up the mountain with the tūtū.  The tūtū used to make canoe for people.

KM: Kālai wa‘a.

FL: Used to go up Greenwell ranch and he kālai wa‘a, what they call the dug out, rough, and they bring 'em down from the mountain.  Those days they used to drag em with a horse.  They just carve 'um crude.  Going be roughed up, that's why.  So they rough 'em out.

KM: They drag 'em only?

FL: They drag 'em down.

KM: Did you hear sometime they go up mountain they chant first or they call when they go down?

FL: That old man, they had what you call kahuna kālai wa‘a, that's the high priest for canoe building.  He chant and he get offering.

KM: Antone's daughter is your age, Hannah.

FL: Hannah, yeah.

KM: She married Kawa‘auhau and then marry Acia.

FL: She was down City of Refuge one time.  I happened to go down there she recognize me, "hey!" Talk story with me.  I tell "ai no ‘oe!" She talk Hawaiian...

KM: ‘Ae, oh mahalo...

FL: I was lucky when I was a little boy, my mother and the neighbor they converse all in Hawaiian and I stay over there listening.  [chuckling]

KM: Nanea.

FL: Mama, what that word mean?  She tell me, and I ask, then gradually I learn and now somebody talk Hawaiian I know exactly what they say.

KM: ‘Ae...  Mahalo nui.  I'm so thankful, mahalo to your nephew for helping us meet.  It's important that we talk story.

FL: Yes, good.

KM: Otherwise, nalowale.

FL: Good to talk to somebody like you come like this.

KM: Mahalo, you enjoy those maps... Just like the name, Kanele, you going see all these families.

FL: Yes, that was Kahauloa, the whole ahupua‘a... [asks that recorder be turned off - describes period of Cushingham and Bishop Estate land acquisition..; and events during World War II]

WL: [Asked uncle to tell story about his father, helping the families of the region.]

 [recorder on]

FL: ...My dad he was like that, he used to help 'em and the Hawaiian and he get land trouble he try help 'em, and one day... 'Cause the people down the village they were poor people.  I've known him to go buy their coffin, put them on his truck, take them up to the place where they going bury.  He used to do all that, I don't know how many guys he used to buy.  Morihara Store, that used to be the one used to sell the coffin.  That's the only store used to sell the coffin.

KM: Morihara right mauka, Hōnaunau one?

FL: Hōnaunau junction.  That's the only way you can buy coffin before.  He used to go over there he order coffin.

KM: Your papa would help the families like that?

FL: Yes.

KM: That's what your nephew was telling me before that your grandpa them.  Nui ke aloha...

FL: Yes.

KM: And like you said these people poor, but they aloha.

FL: Talk Hawaiian oh cracker jack, talk Hawaiian.  Go get 'um [chuckling]

KM: Your father?  But he was part-Hawaiian too.

FL: My mother was the same way, she used to give me the can stuff, my dad used to catch the Humu‘ula go all the way Honolulu those days used to be one place up Honolulu called Piggly Wiggly.  He used to go up there he used to buy canned stuff by the boxes, ship 'em up on the Humu‘ula right to Nāpo‘opo‘o landing.  We had one box, the size of this room loaded with can stuff.  And my mother used to give me, "you take this to Leialoha, whoever [chuckling].  Give 'em all the canned goods... He was like that...

WL: Too good.

KM: So the ‘ohana take care.

FL: Yes, good heart.  And fish we surround akule every house we had one ka‘au, one ka‘au is forty akule.  Every house, he mark 'em he get 'em all listed.  That used to be our job take the akule go give this guy, give this guy, give...every time he surround he give everybody.

KM: That's amazing, like you said even before so when you were in the Cannon Company [Army] It's just like your papa and mama.  You follow their nature, you take care.

FL: They come to me for advice.

KM: That's amazing nui ke aloha.

FL: [Uncle had described how he used to write letters for a man from South Kona who'd been in the army, so that he could stay in touch with his wife; and when the woman learned that he had been the writer she cried and thanked him...]  That's what we're here for, to help one another, not destroy one another.

KM: Yes. Uncle, earlier [while the tape was off], you brought up the thing about the graves like that in peoples property.  In the old days I understand that the kūpuna mā when they live ‘āina they bury right there plenty of them.

FL: Right on the land.

KM: You know when you get place where old families used to live you got to expect probably get ilina, grave over there, yeah?

FL: Sure.

KM: 'Cause that's the style.

FL: I went work for one haole one time for take care his plants.  He was one doctor, a rich buggah.  I study this, I look and I know what they used to call kahua, where they bury.  I look at how the stones was set, I tell, "Hey doc you get one graveyard your place."  He asked me can you show it to me?  And the haole he no go look his land he just buy 'em.

KM: Yes.

FL: I when show 'em, this one Hawaiian grave, get one body under here.

KM: You went show him?

FL: I show the guy...he tell me, what shall I do?  I tell 'em nothing but...don't desecrate 'em.  Don't run bulldozer, dig 'em up, throw the bones around like that...Just respect them, respect the place.

KM: That was the old style yeah?

FL: Yes.

KM: You bury around house where they live.

FL: I told him just the thought of...how would you feel if you had a grave over here.  Would you like somebody fooling around with your bones and stuff like that.  He tell, "Hell no!" I tell, there you are, treat 'em the same.  Oh, raining outside.

KM: Ola ka ‘āina...

FL: Yes.  So that's all it takes, just respect...

KM: ...Mahalo nui!  That's why I come talk with the kūpuna...[end of interview]