Manaku, Rosina Kaleionehu

Kealohapau‘ole Ho‘omana-Heffernan, Kaleionehu’s Granddaughter.


Kalei posing for a newspaper article about her job as a street sweeper.

Name: Rosina Kaleionehu Manaku
Date of Birth: May 8, 1906 Honolulu, Hawaii
Date of Death: July 27, 1971 Honolulu, Hawaii
Parents:John Manaku and Rose Kealohapauole Iopa
Siblings: John Jr., Rose Kealohapauole, Emily, Kalani Manaku,
Daniel Iopa, Iopa, David Kalani, Daniel Iopa
Spouse:John William Hoomana
Married: February 10, 1938
Places of Residence: Honolulu, Hawaii
Children: Rosina Kaleionehu Hoomana, John Williiam Hoomana Jr., Matthew Kalani Chong. (Hānai)

On a warm spring day in May, one of God’s faithful servants was born. My grandma, Rosina Kaleionehu Manaku was born to John and Rose Manaku on May 8th, 1906, in Honolulu. My grandma was known as “Kalei” to all her friends and family.

Of humble beginnings, she was raised in Kalihi on Akepo Lane. Hawaiian was the language of choice in her younger days, but for some reason, she never spoke to her children in Hawaiian. She attended Kauluwela School where she mastered the “neatest penmanship in the world” according to my dad. She married John Ho`omana (Sr.) at Kawaiahao Church when she was 32 years old. When my dad was just 3 months old, my Grandpa passed away. This left Grandma Kalei to care for two small children on her own.

With very little experience in the job field, Kalei took on a position with the City and County of Honolulu, as a street cleaner. She would wake up at 3:45 in the morning and go with seven other women to sweep the streets of Honolulu. They were appreciated by some and ridiculed by others. Kalei worked for the City and County for 25 years.

Kalei’s job as a street cleaner attracted much attention. There were several write-ups in the local newspaper about the women street sweepers of Honolulu. A quote by Kalei in the paper said, “ We all like it (the job). Of course, there are some who turn up their noses at us, because they think we look dirty, but we don’t care.” Despite her simple, unpretentious career, Kalei was very proud of what she did. She was proud that she took care of her family and made an honest living. She raised (hānai) her nephew after her younger sister passed away.

Kalei was described as a “strong woman, one of great presence and dignity”. Her younger brothers and sisters recalled her leading family meetings; “When Kalei spoke…you listened”.

A big part of Kalei’s life was Faith. She attended a small church in Nuuanu and later moved to Kaumakapili Church in Kalihi. Kalei passed the importance of Ke Akua (God) to her children by requiring them to go to Kaumakapili Church Sunday School. It was through her determination and faith that our families’ beliefs and morals were formed, a belief that still lives on in the Hoomana ohana today.

Inadvertently, two of Kaleionehu’s great grandchildren are named for the very traits that she possessed. Ha‘aheo and Hilina‘i were both born in 2002. Mahalo e tūtū Kalei!