Nu'uhiwa, Esther Kameakaulana

La‘amea Kanahele


Esther Kameakaulana Nu‘uhiwa.
Photo: courtesy of Kalehua Lima

‘O Clinton Kanahele ko‘u kupunakāne kuakahi.
‘O Agnes Kanahele ko‘u kupunahine kuakahi.
Noho pū lāua a hānai ‘ia ‘o Albert Kanahele.
‘O Albert Kanahele ko‘u kupunakāne.
‘O Linda Brail ko‘u kupunahine.
Noho pū lāua a hānai ‘ia ‘o Curtis Kanahele.
‘O Curtis Kanahele ko‘u makuakāne.
‘O Lehuanani Velasco ko‘u makuahine.
Noho pū lāua a hānau ‘ia ‘o Kuli‘a, ‘o La‘amea, a ‘o Lanakila.
‘O wau ‘o Carrington La‘amea Kanahele ka lua o nā keiki.
E ola ka hāloa o ku‘u ‘ohana.

Esther was born on September 22, 1892, on the Kalahiki channel going from Ni‘ihau to Waimea, Kaua‘i. Her parents Simeon Nu‘uhiwa and Luka Keale, were traveling from their home island of Ni‘ihau to a great aunt’s house on Kaua‘i, where they had planned on having Esther. But she didn’t want to wait that long, so she was born on the boat going to Kaua‘i! She was met on the shore by many loving relatives, as well as her great aunt who was lawe hānai ‘ia -- adopted -- and took her in as her own.

She went to school at age seven in Waimea, Kaua‘i, and went to Honolulu in 1902 to enter a school in Ka‘iulani. Esther graduated from school on Kaua‘i. She was also chosen by Alma Robinson, who owned Ni‘ihau, to go to the old Norman school in Honolulu where she received a teaching degree. Robinson had the intention of having Mama return to Ni‘ihau to teach, but when she later married outside of the Hawaiian race, she could not return.

Esther married Louis John Medeiros who was later killed on the sugar cane plantation. After she was married to Louis, she married John Evangelista Velasco, my kupunakāne kuakahi. Esther finally settled down in Kalihi, O‘ahu, with her husband John Velasco and her children from her first marriage. She had two more children with John Velasco, one of whom is my kupunakāne, Ambrose Velasco.

"He keiki aloha na mea kanu," is a Hawaiian proverb which means: "Beloved children are the plants" (‘Ōlelo No‘eau 684.) Esther Nu‘uhiwa always loved plants and cared for them as though they were her children. In her yard she had many plants, flowers, and fruit trees -- especially mangoes! She had three different kinds of mangoes, and they all were very special to her. She took pride in them because of the many contests she won due to the enormous size to which she was able to grow them. Some mangoes were even the size of her head!

When her children were young, they would climb the mango trees which were literally filled with hundreds of mangoes, and pick one or two for them all to share. But when their Mama Esther came home, she could look at the trees filled with hundreds of mangoes, and be able to tell that a couple had been picked. When she saw that some of the mangoes were picked while she was gone, she would ask her children who had taken them. The kids were amazed that she could tell when only a couple mangoes had been taken out of so many. They learned not to pick the fruit without asking, but more importantly they learned not to lie to Mama, because if they did, they would get lots more than just a scolding!

Esther Kameakaulana Nu‘uhiwa was an excellent example to those who knew her. She was a respectful, hard worker who was loyal and loving to all. But those who have come to know her as Tūtū have loved her as well. She has touched many people’s lives in different ways and because of this, Esther Nu‘uhiwa will always be loved and remembered.