Overview of Information and Recommendations
Recorded in Oral History Interviews (Maly 1999)
The narratives below, provide readers with summaries of the primary information recorded about the historic Puna Trail-Old Government Road, and various cultural and natural resources of the Kea'au-Waikahekahe vicinity considered to be significant by interview- and consultation-participants. Please note, that while the information below provides readers with an overview of the cultural-historical documentation that was recorded as a part of the interviews, the full interview transcripts (in Maly 1999, Appendix A), should be read for further details and to understand the context in which the information was discussed.
John Ka'iewe Jr.
Oral History Interview of July 16, 1998
and Walk Along the Puna Trail- Old
Government Road (November 16, 1998)
John Ka'iewe Jr. was born at Kea'au, in 1929. He has lived at Kea'au all his life, and his family has lived in the Kea'au-Maku'u vicinity for many generations. John's elders lived at Maku'u, Keauhou, Päkï, and Kea'au-Hä'ena, and as a child he traveled along the old Government Road and mauka-makai trails with his family to their various places of residence and on fishing journeys. He and his elders traveled the Puna Trail (and smaller mauka-makai trails in between the shore and the main trail) all the way from Kaloli-Keauhou in the south to Päpa'i in the north. Also, as a youth, John's Tütü Ma'i, still lived at the place of his birth, Päkï Bay, and today, John is among the last few individuals alive, to have lived at Päkï with his elders. This interview provides readers with important historical accounts of the relationship that native families shared with the land.
From his grandfather, Solomon Ka'iewe, John learned that his family used to live at Keauhou Bay. They had houses there, fished the ocean and cultivated taro, sweet potatoes and other crops in the area between the shore and the Government Road, and on the mauka side of the road as well. There were other relatives living between Keauhou and Päkï as well. When John was young, Tütü Ma'i and some of the other old-timers were still cultivating mixed crops in walled enclosures in the pu'e (mulched, mound planting) style, behind Päkï. The 1946 tsunami had a significant impact on this section of the Puna shoreline. Tütü Ma'i's house was destroyed, as were a number of stone wall features on the makai side of the government road.
John recalls that in his youth, and as he was told, in the preceding years, there was a close relationship between his family and the Shipmans (that relationship is still important to family members to this day). In those early years, John described a Konohiki type relationship between the families and the rights which they were granted for use and care of the land, ocean and various resources necessary for sustaining the well-being of the native families. One example shared by John in regards to access and collection of marine resources, was in the area of the present-day collection, "wiping out" of 'öpihi for sale. John noted that before -
&they don't do that. They come in, they pick up, and then when my uncle comes down, he sees them over there, he'd tell them "What you fellas get now, you folks take. Take what you get." That's all. But because of the boundaries, he [Shipman] had from Keauhou. From Keauhou side all the way to Päpa'i& People didn't just come into Kea'au.
He observed that before there were all kinds of fish, 'öpihi, wana and limu, but now, because so many people take so much, the place has been cleaned out. John suggested that there be some sort of rules like before days, to manage how much and when fish can be taken from along the Kea'au-Puna Coast.
In speaking about the old government road and some of the mauka-makai trails, John noted that the mango trees were purposefully planted by his family and others who traveled the trails. The trees provided shelter, and in season, mangoes were always appreciated by those who traveled the trails. Also, Tütü Ma'i and a few other elder members of his family continued to do repair work on sections of the old government road that they traveled until about 1942 - when World War II broke out, access was restricted for a while, and the section of the road from Kaloli to Hä'ena was opened up for military vehicles. John noted that it was the custom of the people who traveled the roads to take care of them. He remembers many trips where he and elder family members would carry 'ili'ili to fill in the road, and that they would also set the larger stones back in place.
When asked his thoughts about increased use of the old government road and the care of native Hawaiian sites, John commented that the trail was very special to him, and urged that the trail be restored in a traditional manner-that it not be paved as some people have suggested-and that the Hawaiian sites be:
Taken care of, as much as possible. I would like to see those things left just as they are&. Within the government's rights, if they're going to make the road, we can't stop progress, you know. But, if they can kind of respect the area& If they could leave it as a historical area, that other people, like interpreters could tell people about&
John did not recall ever hearing of a specific site between Kea'au Bay to Päkï that was a heiau, but he does recall that there were special places that were respected by the old people-there were places with mana (spiritual power). He also had not seen any burials exposed, but from conversations with various elders, he feels that there are burial sites along the coast-some belonging to his küpuna who lived at various places between Kea'au to Maku'u in ancient times. In this century, some members of his family have been buried at the Kea'au (Shipman) Cemetery near the shore.
Further north along the shore line, at Päpa'i, John has heard of heiau and burial sites, and he recalls that there is one area along the trail (not far from the old boundary wall) that the family was always cautious about because peculiar things would happen there.
John recalled that at Päkï, the names etched in the stone (the petroglyphs) were written by several of the old families that lived in the area. His mother also told him that some times, people who were visiting the families living on the shore would etch their names into the stone. It was quite a custom among the people at the time, "Päkï was famous for the names on top of the rocks."
Roy Shipman Blackshear
Oral History Interview at Kea'au Beach, Puna
July 23, 1998 and Site Visit of September 24, 1998 - with Kepä Maly
Roy Shipman Blackshear was born in 1923, at the Shipman family home in Hilo. Roy's grandparents, William H. and Mary Elizabeth Johnson-Shipman (a descendant of the Kauwë-Davis lines) first traveled along Kea'au Beach and the Puna shoreline-between Hilo and Kapoho-on the "King's Trail" in the early 1870s. In the later 1870s, W.H. Shipman and partners in the Hawaiian Agricultural Company entered into a series of lease agreements with the estate of King William Lunalilo for the ahupua'a of Kea'au where ranching operations agricultural interests were being developed. The Shipmans have owned most of the ahupua'a of Kea'au since ca. 1882.
Roy has lived along the shore of Kea'au for much of his life, either as a full-time or part-time resident. During his youth, he traveled along the old Government Road and coastal lands of Kea'au with his family and other Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian families who have lived on the land for many generations. The interview transcript includes rich descriptions of the landscape, practices of the families who called Kea'au home, and historical events, which he learned from elders, or personally experienced.
In his early years, Roy learned about and saw various Hawaiian sites in the coastal region of Kea'au. Among the important places that he discussed in the interview, and which were always respected by his family and the few other Hawaiian families that lived there were:
The Kea'au Fishpond and mäkähä (rights to gathering fish from the pond were based upon work done to repair the pond features and keep the pond in working order).
Two kü'ula (fish god stones) on Kea'au Bay.
The famous stone Höpoe, which was lost in the 1946 tidal wave.
A possible burial site above the Höpoe vicinity, on the mauka side of the Puna Trail.
The old sweet potato cultivating field behind Hä'ena Point
Old house sites and walls along the Old Government Road from Hä'ena to Päkï and Keauhou.
South of a paddock-boundary wall (Site 21269) are two ancient petroglyphs in the forms of a turtle and fish near the high water line.
The old heiau and burial sites crossed by the Puna Trail in Waikahekahe Nui. Roy noted that he never heard of any other heiau sites in the Kea'au Bay-Hä'ena vicinity, and during his youth no one from outside of the immediate Hawaiian families of Kea'au made offerings at any sites in the coastal region of the ahupua'a.
The mäwae where Kamehameha I was attacked, and numerous other sites between the coast and Puna Trail, extending from Kahului to Pâpa'i in the north.
When asked what he'd heard about the early residents in the coastal region of Kea'au, Roy shared what he remembered of his grandfather's description of the area, and the relationship of the native tenants to the land in the 1870s-1880s:
RSB: &I asked my grandfather, "When you first bought the property, were there very many Hawaiian living around here?" And he said, "Not very many." So where the population of Hâ'ena went, I don't know. But he said, "There weren't too many." But he was telling me this fresh water pond out here, he said that after he bought the property, "The Hawaiians that were around here, asked him if they could fish in the pond." I think that it had been restricted before.
KM: Sure, the Konohiki fishery rights of Lunalilo.
RSB: Yes. And he said, "Yes, you can fish in the pond." And he said, "For everyday that you fish in the pond, you give me one day of building stone walls around the edge of the pond." So that's how the walls were built. So that worked out pretty good&
In discussing the Puna Trail-Old Government Road, protection of resources (both cultural and natural), and public access, Roy shared that his family has worked hard to keep the land intact, and in it's natural state:
RSB: &Over the years, you know, we've had people come up to me and say, "You know, you have such a beautiful place down there, I' surprised you don't have hotels and condos and everything else." And I said, "That's why it is a beautiful place. Because we don't have all of that. This is one of the natural spots on the island."
The family is very concerned about growing public access and proposals to pave the trail. Roy shared that much of the concern lies in the fact that already, he and other family members are cleaning up the rubbish left behind by people who carry in what they want, but fail to pack it back out. Also, since 1918, the family has been involved in a nënë breeding program, the oldest of its kind, and one that is significantly responsible for keeping the endemic Hawaiian nënë from becoming extinct. People who approach the nënë-or worse yet, their dogs-can impact the breeding cycle and in the worst case, loose animals can destroy birds. On the shore, it is not uncommon to see turtles and seals hauled out as well. People and loose animals also impact them. Roy also noted that not too long ago, someone had cut the head off of one of the turtles on the shore, and just left the dead turtle there. In these matters, the family has maintained a long-term resource stewardship program with the DLNR-DOFAW, and all cases are reported to the department.
Roy feels strongly that the cultural and natural resources need to be protected, and he understands that the Old Government Road is a public right-of-way, that is ten (10) feet wide. He feels it is important that people know about and respect the sensitive cultural and natural resources, and it is hoped, that trail users will also respect the property rights of the Shipmans.
Albert Kahiwahiwaokalani Haa Sr. (AKH)
and Albert K. Haa Jr. (AH)
November 10, 1998
Oral History Interview with Kepä Maly
Albert Kahiwahiwaokalani Haa Sr., was born at Kapoho, Puna, in 1930, and raised at Kea'au. His father's family had worked for the Shipman family almost since the Shipman's arrival in Hawai'i in the 1850s. Living at Kea'au Beach, members of the Haa family worked the lands of the Shipman Ranch, including Kea'au, Keauhou, and Mauna Kea (the Pu'u 'ö'ö-Pua 'Äkala vicinity). Mr. Haa's great grandfather was the often spoken of "Ioane."
Ioane was a close friend and steady companion of Willie Shipman (see interview with Roy Shipman Blackshear), Eben Low, and many families who had ties to activities in Puna and various lands on Hawai'i. Ioane was known as a healer, and by all accounts, he was very knowledgeable of sites, practices, and customs associated with the land.
During his youth and teen years,
Mr. Haa lived at Kea'au, and it was in those years that he
heard some of his elders speaking about Kea'au. During the
interview, the elder Mr. Haa was joined by his son Albert K.
Haa Jr. The younger Haa was raised by his
tütü (Edward Haa) at Kea'au makai
(and later inland). Together, father and son shared some of
their family history
and thoughts about Kea'au, protection of Hawaiian cultural sites, and travel along the Puna Trail-Old Government Road.
Recalling things he'd heard as a youth, Mr. Haa Sr. shared that in the last century, a number of people lived between Päkï and Keauhou, that there was even a school there. Tütü Ma'i was the last resident in the area, and Mr. Haa often stayed at Päkï with the elder Ma'i. Mr. Haa also traveled the entire shore line of Kea'au, fishing. When asked about walking the Old Government Road, Mr. Haa said he almost never walked on the government road, instead he walked the shoreline trail from Hä'ena to the Päkï vicinity. Going to the north (Hilo side of Kea'au), he recalled that he and his father mä traveled the entire trail from Kea'au Beach past Päpa'i, almost to Pu'umaile in Waiäkea, they ran cattle through most of the makai lands. His father told him about a large cave some where along the coast line, that was so big a plane could go inside (Mr. Haa was never taken to the cave).
Mr. Haa also shared his recollections of the two kü'ula in front of Kea'au Beach; he heard that it was his father who set them there to protect them. Ho'okupu were still made by his father and others throughout his youth. When asked about heiau at Kea'au, Mr. Haa commented:
Well, my father tells us, but he didn't tell me the location. Like I told you, the special, important things, he didn't say too much&To them, it's a secret that goes with them&
Later, Mr. Haa did say that he had been told about heiau near Päpa'i and Päpua'a. Both father and son urge that people not be maha'oi (intrusive - nosy), that they leave the Hawaiian places alone. Proposals to pave the old trail are unacceptable to them.
In response to a question about making public access to the Puna Trail more widely known, father and son both expressed concerns, referencing some of the recent activities that have received media attention. The elder Mr. Haa summed it up in a very personal Hawaiian manner, as one who's family is buried on the land:
AH: &Kea'au, I don't like people to go over there, leave 'em alone. They don't know what they are doing. These guys that have been going down there, they make any kind heiau and praying. But they don't belong there,
AKH: [tears welling up in his eyes] We see that and that's käpulu, that's not what our folks did. My family, we have been at Kea'au for a long time. My uncle Henry Haa is buried there in the Shipman Cemetery, and we are attached to the land for eternity.