Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Elizabeth Kauahipaula- Photo: Courtesy

It was to Keaukaha that the Hawaiian immersion class went with kupuna Elizabeth Kauahipaula because she was raised there. Shortly after they went to Leleiwi because it was where the kupuna also lived in the summer. There were many temporary shelters as if they were campers but the kupuna said that they were vagrants. They didn’t live in a solid house; just lived here and there. As soon as the children saw the “camp” they were surprised. They were surprised because they had just seen and discussed the reason for the homesteads of Keaukaha.

At Leleiwi, Kauhipaula said, “We camped here during the summer.” And the students exclaimed, “Wow!” She said, “My father cultivated plants, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and watermelon on that hill. He fished with a throw net or fishing pole. I played on the boulders and looked for limpets and sea cucumbers. Sea cumbers were the favorite of my mother, that and eels. If she got loli she was very happy.” Her father would gather sea cucumbers to sell at the Chinese store. Her mother would gather lau hala to make mats and hats to sell in town. When they had sufficient funds, they would buy sugar, crackers, and perhaps bolts of material for the family. The family’s task was to make a living. They didn’t just go to the beach to relax.

After Leleiwi the class traveled to Kīlauea and after that to Punalu‘u because Kauahipaula also lived in Ka‘ū. There she told stories. She said, “The families of Nā‘ālehu came down when the turtles came ashore. At that time there were many turtles. We camped out in a temporary shelter. The men searched for turtles outside in the deep sea or upon the pāhoehoe lava flow. The women searched for seaweed, crabs, and fished in the shallow water.” The amazing thing to the students was that kupuna got drinkable water from inside of the sea! The kupuna said, “My responsibility during my childhood was to fill the water-gourd with water for drinking.” According to her, that kind of living was fun except that she didn’t like the killing of the turtle. They cried. She couldn’t just lounge around in the shelter.

The homeless of these times are unfortunate. They cannot stay in one place. They are always chased away by police. They go about and shift to and fro. They cannot grow food. Nor can they weave lau hala, look for sea cucumbers to sell, fish, etc. The family of Kupuna Kauahipaula did not have lots of money but they were blessed with land and sea to subsist on.

This is a remembrance of Elizabeth Kauahipaula