Audio Recording of Interview of Colette Higgins by Chantellee Spencer, Cultural Specialist, Cultural Surveys Hawai‘i
Interview Date: October 14, 2021 at Waikalua Loko I‘a fishpond
Parts 1 and 2
Dean of Academic Affairs, Division I & Academic Support
Windward Community College
[Interviewer’s Background (Chantellee Spencer) and
About Hawaiian Studies Immersion Program at Windward Community College]
00:00:14.800 –> 00:05:17.300
CHANTELLEE: – Um, so just to tell you a little bit about me, I’ve been working in Cultural Surveys Hawai‘i for about four years now. Okay, Um, I work in their Hilo office which is very much smaller than the main office here in Oʻahu. Okay. I graduated from UH Hilo. I got my degree in Hawaiian Studies and Anthropology. I wanted to… I wanted to have a job like this. You know? When I got out of college I was working at the hotel -Right- and it’s just…it doesn’t feed the naʻau.
COLETTE: Ah good, yeah, yeah, yeah. Hawaiian studies, you said? Yeah, wow. So, youʻre… you can speak um, Hawaiian? Or fluent?
COLETTE: Oh, good for you. Oh gosh.
CHANTELLEE: I mean, you know, when people ask me if I can speak fluent, I’m like “I’m okay. I’m okay,” like I wouldn’t say I speak fluent cause I’m still kind of rusty
COLETTE: Yeah because we are always looking for teachers to teach in our Hawaiian immersion/early college program. Oh my gosh, we need teachers. If people can get their degrees, so they have their Master’s in whatever, right? And then they can speak ʻōlelo. Ah, that’s like a…that’s like a gem. We want those people. Right? Because we have our Hawaiian immersion/early college program? And those are really hard teachers to find, yeah.
CHANTELLEE: Right? I wonder why though?
COLETTE: Because there’s not enough people who are fluent in the language and has met the MQ’s of the Master’s degree in whatever the field is. Those are rare. Cuz like, I teach history, right? Or I used to teach history and you need a master’s at the community colleges, right? So you’re looking for someone who has a Master’s in history and can ʻōlelo. That’s hard to come by. That combination is hard to come by. You can find people with Bachelor’s degrees in ʻŌlelo. You can find people who can ʻōlelo, but try to find a combination of the Master’s plus ʻōlelo, that’s hard. That’s a hard one. So if you know of anybody can who can ʻōlelo and they got a Master’s degree, send ’em my way. I probably got some work for them. Especially if they can teach online. Cuz we have this online program that’s fully online…um- Hawaiian Studies degree, and it’s fully online, eight-week courses and it’s cohorted. So we promise you that in five semesters, you’ll get out. And every semester you’re taking four classes, but only two classes at a time, Yeah, and so that’s all online. So we got- half of our students are on the continental U.S.
COLETTE: That’s cool, huh? They’re Hawaiians living on the continental U.S. Think of all the Hawaiians who moved away, the diaspora, right? Yeah, so we just started it during the pandemic, in Fall of 2020. So we’re gonna start our Fourth- Fourth Cohort will start uh… in Spring, Spring 2022, and then our Fifth Cohort, which is our maximum capacity of 200, and our Fifth Cohort will start in Fall of 2022. Hawaiian Studies: online, fully online. *laughs* Yeah – That’s great. I mean the pandemic, a lot of… you know, it hit bad for some people, but also a lot of good came from it -Right, right, and then we found out that we can hire people- we can’t hire people to teach online from the mainland, or from the continent, but we can hire people from neighbor islands to teach online for us, as long as they live in Hawaii, So that’s cool. It’s online classes…
CHANTELLEE: My mind is already like “Who can I call?”
COLETTE: Who can you call, right? So like, when we need to fill, like think of the whole degree of what we have. And so…yeah. So we start off with Hawaiian language, um, so all the way up to 202. So you got- in two semesters, you can be pau, because we got eight weeks at a time, right? So you do your Hawaiian 101 first eight weeks, Hawaiian 102 second eight weeks. Second semester, Hawaiian 201, Hawaiian 202. You can finish all the way to 202 because of the way it’s laid out. So as-as a full-time working adult, it’s mostly- the people who are attracted to it are the older students, the non-traditional students. They got kids they’re raising, um, and they got work and whatnot. So they like it. It’s online, asynchronous. So they can do it in the middle of the night if they need to, right? And they can get through you can get through it like that. Weʻre promising that weʻre gonna get you those classes and they’re gonna be posted for you. So you can actually finish in five semesters. Yeah -The freedom and flexibility… -Yeah, yeah. And it’s great because you’re only focusing on two classes at a time, yeah? So you can manage that if it’s an intense 8-week course. If you only got two at a time, if you got four classes in 16 weeks, that’s hard, right? But if you got only two at a time just focusing on two at a time and you can actually move faster. So this- it’s- the model, it’s the best practice model for returning adults. Yeah. Returning adults who want to return to school and get their degree. And so many people miss
their Hawaiian roots. So many people born on the mainland, they know that they’re Hawaiian, but they don’t know about the culture, or history, or the language.
COLETTE: And others have moved away, because you know the cost of living, right? So they move away, then they’re raising kids over there, but they really want to be able to pass on that knowledge, but they don’t know it themselves. That’s who we attracted. This is the pandemic, it’s a good thing of the pandemic. *laughs* It’s amazing students. Absolutely amazing students. So, it was just an idea I had back in July, 2020, and then we launched it in, um, October of 2020. Crazy, huh.
COLETTE: That’s Windward! That’s Windward for you. We do that kind of stuff, right? And it’s helped our enrollment for our Hawaiian Studies degree. It’s amazing.
CHANTELLEE: That’s great…
COLETTE: Yeah, it’s kind of amazing. But anyway, I’m getting off track. I’m not talking about the fishpond. *laughs*
CHANTELLEE: Um, So we have- we have like some set questions…
CHANTELLEE…that I’m gonna ask, but if it prompts something in your head.
COLETTE: It’s go off? It’s okay? It’s okay to go off-script? Okay, talk-story kine?
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, yeah.
[Colette’s Background and Relationship to the Fishpond] 00:05:17.300 –> 00:11:33.200
CHANTELLEE: But there’s just some key things that I need to hit Um, so… I guess the first question is: what is your relationship to this loko iʻa?
COLETTE: Okay. My relationship to this loko iʻa. So, officially, I served on the board. I believe it was….uhh. When did I serve on the board? It was during the whole transition of when they went from Waikalua Loko Fish Pond Preservation Society, that’s the board I served on, and we transitioned to give it over to Pacific American Foundation. So we dissolved our board so that we could actually handover the Pond to the Pacific American Foundation, because they had a HUD grant to purchase the land. Um, so I think I’m trying to remember when that was that I actually served on the board. I believe it was only for about…Okay, wait. Can I cheat and look at my phone?
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, of course!
COLETTE: I’ve got my CV on top my phone. And I’m getting to the point where I’m
CHANTELLEE: Let’s get the facts.
COLETTE: Ah, yeah. I’m getting to the point where it’s like, if I don’t look at the official, um, the days, I’m gonna forget. Because if I tell you when it was and I don’t actually go look at the official days, then that’s not good, right? *laughs* Right? So let me see… Hold on, hold on, hold on. My bookmarks! So I actually have a website, right? because- and then I put my, um, I put my stuff there on the website Uhh, because I did my- I traveled in the footsteps of Queen Kapiʻolani. I retraced her footsteps. That was my sabbatical back in 2016. All the way to London. So it’s, “In the Footsteps of Queen Kapiʻolani, Retracing Queen Kapi‘olani’s Journey to London in 1887.” [see: https://inthefootstepsofkapiolani.wordpress.com/]
CHANTELLEE: Thatʻs crazy!
COLETTE: Yeah, I did that! That was my sabbatical. My CV’s there. So I served on the board of…uhhh….Where is it? Waikalua Loko Fish Pond Preservation Society! I served on the board from 2011 to 2015. Okay, so 2015 is when we transferred it over. That’s why I stopped in 2015. We transferred it over to PAF. Pacific American Foundation. So the board was dissolved. Yeah, so 2011 to 2015, I officially served on the board.
However, I actually learned about the fishpond way back when I, um, did the, um, NAPALI, the National Pacific American Leadership Institute. I did that um, one….it was like a one-week institute back in June of 2005. And that’s when I met Herb Lee. So, Herb came and he spoke to us, and he told us about this fishpond calling to him. The kahea of the fishpond, right, calling to him, and I had heard about the fishpond. I kind of had learned about it or knew that it existed, but I never really learned about how it called to him, and that whole story associated with it. So that was in June of 2005, when I went on that one-week NAPALI leadership experience, which kind of blew my mind and kinda shifted the way I think about leadership. And I kinda moved towards servant-leadership and so that kind of influenced me in what I wanted to do.
And so, I think it took me, about, to 2006 before I finally showed up at the pond. So I had heard about it. I learned about it from Herb. It was sort of calling me but then I was ignoring it for about a good year and a half, I say, I think. Until finally, I came one day at, um, for a work- a work-day. Y’know where they do these Saturday work-days, and I was just hooked. I think that was 2006 or so. And then I just…I couldn’t get enough of it. I kept coming every single work-day when they’d have them four times in a year. It was on a Saturday morning. Just come, spend the time here. And I just enjoyed it so much that I started bringing my students.
I was teaching Hawaiian History at Kapiʻolani Community College [KCC] at the time. So I did 24 years teaching there, at KCC. And so, I started bringing my students, servant-leadership. We were…or not… Well, servant…uh… service learning we called it for the students. And then when I brought the faculty, I would call it…it was servant-leadership kind of a thing, right? So I wanted them to learn by doing. And so, we would come on the work-days and we would go out there and I loved to pull the seaweed, or the limu, out of the pond. There used to be tons and tons of limu. So over all the days from, I guess 2006, when it first started it, to 2015, when I say I stopped on the board. I guess I’ve spent many of Saturdays coming to the pond. And every time it got to the point on the board meetings, when we’re dividing up the tasks, like who’s gonna lead which task, they never even have to ask. Yeah? ‘Cause it’s like “Colette: Limu, right?” “Yeah, yeah, limu, limu!” I just love limu.
So, I tried all the different jobs, y’know, over the years. I tried pulling out the mangroves when we first had mangroves way in the back area. And they were like the little keiki, smaller ones. So you could actually reach in and pull ’em out. So that was kind of like my first job I ever did. That was a stinky job, because if you’ve ever pulled mangroves. Oh my God. You pull it out, and it’s like, it smells like sewage, right? And we’re not too far from the sewage plant, right? So it’s like- like “Ah, this is stink.”
But that was my first task, and I remember doing that with my former teacher. So, um, I used to be her student at KCC and then my teacher:… She kind of started the whole service-learning program. She was a botany teacher and she did this whole service-learning thing. Um, and so I didn’t do service-learning when I was her student, back in the 80’s. But by the time, I came back to teach in 90’s and then I was teaching Hawaiian history by ’97. By the early 2000’s, she’s still doing service-learning with her students And now I’m coming out to the pond with her. So my first experience here in 2006, was working alongside my former teacher:…. , um, who’s since retired, right?
And we’re pulling out mangroves. That was my first job. And I got- I got- I got addicted. So even though it was stinky, it was lousy work. I was- I was muddy. I was wet. I was- it was yucky, but it felt good. There was something about getting my hands in the mud, getting my feet dirty, I think. I grew up in Kaimuki, in Honolulu. A city girl, right? I, y’know, that graduated Kaimuki High in ’84. So I’m a city girl.
I didn’t get enough mud, I think, or enough dirt. I never had hands in the mud, right? So it was- I don’t know. It was something about the pond. So after that, I was- I was hooked, right? So that was I think 2006, after that, I’m hooked.
[Serving on the Board of the Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society] 00:11:33.200 –> 00:15:45.400
So by 2011, I guess they saw me at every single work-day? So they ask me “Colette, do you wanna join the board?” Right? I said “Why would you want me on the board? I don’t know nothing about being on the board?”
CHANTELLEE: Your presence, your commitment.
COLETTE: It’s just because I like pulling out the…um…I-I eventually got to the- I did the seaweeds. I tried mangroves. I tried the other mangroves. Many different jobs we’ve done, or I’ve done, over the years. But it was the limu that I loved pulling out. And so we got pictures of me standing with the crew, right? And with all these mounds of tons of limu we pulled out on a, y’know, four-hour work-day. So it’d be pretty amazing. I was just addicted to it. Yeah. And I just loved getting … There’s something about this pond that just called to me. You know? I just had to keep coming. So, now we know: it was 2011 to 2015. Four years on the board. But prior to that, it started in 2006 when I first came out here. Yeah. And I brought students. And I brought faculty. And they got to experience it too.
CHANTELLEE: What about your family?
COLETTE: Well, no. So my husband, he not into the getting dirty and muddy. He said I can do that at home if I’m just working the yard. “Too much for yard work. No, you can go.” Very supportive that way. I only managed to bring my son one time, even him, he’s kinda like “Eh, nah. It’s your thing,” right? But he did come one time, when we had- it was kind of a closed Saturday. It wasn’t open to the community. But it was a special Saturday. We had invited certain people. And it included somebody who was visiting the islands and, um, she was like a snowboarding Olympic champion or something.
CHANTELLEE: Oh wow.
COLETTE: She was like this amazing person, and she just happened to be vacationing in Hawaii and her friend said “Why don’t you come to the pond with us?” And so we were pulling out limu that particular Saturday. That was the one time I was able to convince my son to come. Otherwise, not so much. But it’s been sort of my thing, and they support me in that way. Cuz they know. You know, I come home and I’m cleaning off all the mud that’s on me, and washing down my tabis, and all of that. So they’re always supportive, but I could never get..except for that one time with my son. I could never get them to actually come and help me…My husband would come when we had potlucks here. *laughs* Just like the other- the other board members. They would bring their spouses too. You know, but without… not- not into the ‘working’ bit of it. But that’s okay You know? You get too much of the cutting the trees under, and it works out, because nah. Too much of that.
CHANTELLEE: So now that the loko is under Pacific American Foundation (PAF)?
COLETTE: Oh, it’s amazing. Yeah… That was the goal. Right? So when I joined the board
CHANTELLEE: To save it, right?
COLETTE: To save it. So when- we were just preserving it. So it’s funny because we had a board, and our kuleana was to protect it, to restore it, to do all that, but we didn’t own it. So the goal was always to try to own it. And so
CHANTELLEE: That must have been scary.
COLETTE: Yeah, because every single- Oh my gosh, the board meetings that we were on because I was on the board from 2011 to 2015. So we were talking about this transition. They already had the HUD grant. And it had a limited uh…time that you actually had to complete the project. And so, Herb, he’s been kind of amazing. He got that grant, so he had the money to purchase it. But this pond has gone through multiple owners, right? So Herb knows the whole crazy history about all the owners of the Bay View Golf course, right? And over time… So it was the Church. [Windward Church of the Nazarene]..A church, it was a church that had purchased it, and they were the ones that allowed us, and they were working this deal to allow us to buy the pond. And then, um, it worked out because when the Church was trying to sell and whatnot, they- they basically- the agreement we had worked out where we get access to this and that this would be preserved was something that they built into it. So whoever would buy it afterwards would know that we have this. So this is pretty amazing that we’re able to work that out. So it took- Oh, poor Herb Lee, he knows the stories of all the crazy owners of this pond. And so he’s got that- I mean, you talk about oral history, that guy’s got it- he knows the whole story, right? I only picked it up as you know, as a teacher coming in, kind of experiencing it, bringing in my students, bringing in other faculty to experience it. It was just learning by doing, yeah? It was all about learning by doing. That’s kind of what we’re up to *laughs* Learning by doing, and so that’s what we did.
CHANTELLEE: Thank you.
CHANTELLEE: And so now, what is your role now with the fishpond? Now that you’re off the board? Now that it’s under PAF?
COLETTE: Yeah, so I don’t really- I’m not really involved and I haven’t been since the board kind of- We handed it over, and that was the goal. Cuz we always knew it. That we weren’t going to exist forever. We would have to..The idea was to hand it over to whoever owned it and that would be PAF, right? That was the point. Um, so I haven’t been that involved…
[New Role as Dean at Windward Community College and Diminishing Limu at Pond]
00:15:45.400 –> 00:17:34.000
In 2015, I went on- I started my sabbatical, right? So I was on a year sabbatical: 2015-16. So Spring of 2016, I went on my big journey, all the way to London, Following in Queen Kapiʻolani’s footsteps. When I get back from that journey, I left KCC and I got my job at Windward. So I’m a dean at Windward now. So I haven’t been teaching since…the last time I taught was Spring of 2015. Which is probably the last time I was here, involved at the pond. Um, so I’ve been crazy busy as dean. I haven’t had any students to bring out to the pond, cuz I don’t teach anymore. Um and so…
CHANTELLEE: You have different kuleana…
COLETTE: Yeah, it’s so- I kinda miss the pond. I’ve come back a few times since then for work-days, y’know, and just kind of jumped in to do work-days Um, but that’s about it. So it’s been actually at least 2 years that I’ve been here. Now I’m looking at it when when I walked on the wall earlier, it’s like oh my gosh, the wall is so amazing! Cuz they’ve really built it up in the time that I’ve been gone. So I think it’s been two or three years since I’ve been here. It’s been a while. So, um, yeah different kuleana and it’s kinda took me away from the pond. And we didn’t have necessarily- we didn’t have a board anymore.
That was sort of- On the board, before, it was like a working board. So when we would meet, and we’d meet at Windward Community College in the conference room. And when we’d meet, we’d kind of divvy up the work and plan for the work-days. That was kind of our whole kuleana. Was make sure what needs work? Do we need to work on the wall? Do we need to work on the mangroves? We thought we’d never get rid of those mangroves and this year they finally got rid of the last mangroves, right?
COLETTE: We had so much limu. Now the limu doesn’t come into the pond anymore. Something happened with the limu. I don’t know. I think it was during the whole king’s tides or all the changes in the climate. Something happened. But we used to pull out tons of limu before. Now that’s not a thing. So, um, I haven’t really. So it’s kind of amazing. It’s been so- a while since I’ve been here. Um so, I’ve just- I’ve seen Herb Lee at different functions and whatnot. Okay… *laughs*
CHANTELLEE: Sorry, we might have to move.
COLETTE: It’s some of these passing showers again, right? What do you think? You getting wet? CHANTELLEE: Yeah. COLETTE: It’s gonna pass? Okay, we go. You wanna try and stop ’em?
*End of Part 1 Audio*
[Service-Learning by Students and Their Families at the Pond]
00:00:00.000 –>00:05:42.500 (Restart of audio time stamps)
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, it’s…Yeah, it’s recording
COLETTE: Okay, okay.
CHANTELLEE: Okay… So you said you grew up in Kaimuki?
COLETTE: Yeah, I did.
CHANTELLEE: What do you think about the relationship of this fish pond to Kāneʻohe or its importance of being in Kāneʻohe?
COLETTE: Ah, I think it’s-
CHANTELLEE: Cuz you live right across…?
COLETTE: Yeah, I live over there! So I moved into that home- we finally bought our home in ’98. So we moved in Yacht Club Terrace, right? I can see the Yacht Club… all the ships right now. Just on the other side of that Yacht Club is our- Yacht Club Terrace, where we live, since ’98. But I would- I didn’t leave KCC until 2015… until 2016! Right? When I got the job at Windward?
So I grew up in Kaimuki, I went to, um, KCC, Kaimuki High, then KCC. And then UH Mānoa, and then, um- but I was bringing people from town to this fish pond, right? Cuz I was working at KCC and I was telling them to come out here for service-learning. To come out here for ser- So it’s more than just a Kāneʻohe thing, right? I would argue that a lot of people who live in Kaneohe know about this fish pond because either one of their kids or themselves came on some kind of a work-day with the school or on a Saturday. So lots of people kind of have had their hands in this pond and have worked here. Um, so I think people, in general, know about this pond as sort of that educational experience, or anybody’s welcome on the Saturdays. You can come. And then I think other people from beyond Kāneʻohe know about it, cuz us teachers would bring them out.
So like my teacher, that I was working alongside, Nelda Quensell, she taught Botany, and she was bringing her students out here, on service-learning. And then the other person that would bring her students here, she taught Cultural Anthropology, Ulla Hasager. Ulla Hasager. She taught Cultural Anthropology, and she and Nelda kind of started the service-learning program. And so she would bring her students out here. And they’re all from- Oh, actually, um…What’s her name?… Ulla’s students were actually from not just KCC, but she also taught at UH Mānoa, and she taught at Chaminade, right? So she would have multiple students coming here, and she would always kind of- I’d often serve as her rep [representative] to just sign off on forms because if she couldn’t be here because she had another one going on the same day. They often were busy every Saturday because they had different events going on.
So this pond is not just important to Kāneʻohe. I would argue that it’s important to the island and more people- I would argue- more people from throughout the islands has come here. Then to, let’s say, Heʻeia, or to other fish ponds that are- Because other fish ponds have more limited access, I think. But this fish pond has been known- This is where you come for your classes. We’re always welcome to bring your classes here. To have your students do service-learning here. So I think it’s more than just Kāneʻohe and I like that over the years, over all these years, was so many work-days that all those many, many hands have been involved in this pond. So I’m just thinking of all the years even since I’ve been involved in 2006, there must be kids who have grown up now and they remember coming as a kid to the pond right, and that means that if they remember coming as a kid to the pond, it means that they’re- the next generation will probably remember too, right? Because they’ll pass it on, and they’ll bring their kids worked many of work-days where we had families coming, right?
Cuz Kamehameha Schools would have that requirement where parents have to go do work-days with their kids. I don’t know how many service hours they had to do. Sometimes they were very enthusiastic. Sometimes they were not. But they would be here, with the whole family and the kids loved it! And it’s like, what an excuse to come outside, get all muddy and dirty and it’s okay to get muddy and dirty. Your parents are part of it. You don’t have- you don’t have the cellphones. You don’t have the earphones. You don’t have the squares and the electronics stuff, and you’re actually doing something together as a family, right? So those were always fun times when the families would come. Yeah?
And they “Oh, I remember. I came when I was a kid!” right? -It all kind of fits into what Herb was saying about the seventh generation… -Right? We are passing it on. And the more kids come out here, the more they’re going to remember it, and if they remember it and- If even one time here- they’ll likely preserve it. so in the future, going forward, they will pass it on to their kids. And they’ll bring their kids here, “Oh, we gotta go do one day at Waikalua!” Right? Just so they know, and so it’s just kind of amazing, this pond. It’s just sort of- addictive, yeah? *laughs* –
Yeah, and I haven’t much visited loko iʻa here, on Oʻahu, but.. -in Kāneʻohe. I think we only have… -That’s what I mean…- This one, we have this one. Heʻeia. We have Kahana, I think, has theirs, right? And then we have out in, um, is it Moʻoliʻi? Or the one out in, um, that’s owned by uh…by the ranch out there, Kualoa Ranch? They own a private pond, right?
And so I think Heʻeia and the one out in the Kualoa Ranch, those ones try to produce food…um… fish, right? Ours: not so much, right? We had so much sediment. We had so much sort of, um… You know, there was that stream on that side that’s, uh, was most polluted, right? That stream just on the other side of the pond. So it’s more of an educational pond rather than making fish. -No, yeah. Just looking at it, it has the space. You know… -Yeah -…to hold a lot of people: volunteers, helpers… -So what I was just heard Herb say when we walked out to the um, to the mākāhā out there, when we’re walking on the wall, he was saying that they gotta remove a whole bunch of sediment in the pond, a lot of sediment has washed in, right? So it’s just so deep, so if you walk in, you know, you’re sinking down to your knees or whatever, right? It’s really deep. So you gotta remove a lot of that sediment, I guess before you can make it a productive pond again and, I don’t think we have freshwater coming in Cuz normally, it’s supposed to be brackish, right? You get the freshwater with the ocean water, mixing. But we’ve cut off the freshwater supply for quite a number of years, so it doesn’t have that kind of mix anymore. The stream doesn’t flow into the pond, so I think, yeah, when he said seven generations.
[Preservation Efforts Now and in the Future] 00:05:42.500 –> 00:12:27.500
COLETTE: There’s multiple things that need to be done over time But because I think so many kids have been here, so many families have been here, so many people have been here over the years. I think, and now because we own it. I think it’s the only owned pond that’s privately owned, right? Non-profit owns it. It’s the Pacific American Foundation that owns it. So that’s pretty cool. That means it’s always protected and maybe one day we can get fish in there again *laughs* -Oh, yeah -Yeah? Except for the big crabs we pulled out, or the eels that are in there, Or the, um, what is it, um, barracuda? That they had in there… -Barracuda?! -*laughs*
Yeah, I think so…You gotta look at the list of the fish…It was a long one. That’s the long one that comes and he goes… Yeah…Right, right. Cuz if predators can get in, cuz it’s not yet your official mākāhā with keeping them out. So it’s not functioning like a fish pond should function, right? Itʻs been changed over the years. Um, so it’s not exactly, um…You can’t raise fish just yet *laughs* Right? Not the right- -Not this generation. -Not this generation, maybe the next, yeah? Maybe the next one. Could be…yeah, could be…
CHANTELLEE: Okay… -I think we kind of touched on this next question but: How have you seen the loko iʻa change since it being taken over?
COLETTE: I guess from when you served on the board to now that it’s under PAF…? How- and even before Herb got involved with… -I don’t know because I’ve never seen it since, uh… My first time here was 2006, so I don’t have the older history the way Herb does. Where he remembers when all this wasn’t open. But just from the time that- From 2006, when I first came, to now, what I see is that back in that area, in the way back, that’s mauka side of the pond, that used to be all mangroves back there. So I remember when we were first pulling mangroves, it was all back in that area, so now it’s been opened, right? -Yeah, it’s very open… -Very open. And then, I remember when this rock wall was not as nice as it is now. This is beautiful, right? So at certain points, like when had high- king tides, it was flowing over the wall, right? So this is a beautifully done restoration of the wall. And for a while, I think they were trying to use the bluestone because we’re getting donated bluestone from the Quarry, but that wasn’t great. So it looks like they- Herb said they brought in rocks from the Westside. These are the kind of rocks, you need the big rocks of… So that wasn’t as nice, so those, uh- That rock wall wasn’t as nice.
And then all back on that end used to be all mangroves. And, so over the years I’ve seen it been- So you know, the pond itself has gotten, looks like it’s gotten larger and larger, right? Because we’ve removed, and removed, and removed the mangroves. So only this year, he’s actually, he says what they’re doing is they got permit to-to burn the-the dried mangroves. So they’ve trapped off all the mangroves, they’ve piled it there, and they can burn it. Which is a wonderful way- cuz what we used to do is haul it all away. The guys would be on the chainsaw and they’d be cutting it, and we’d be passing all of these… -That’s a lot- a lot, a lot of work. -Yeah and we’d be passing it like, make a chain gang, right? And you’re passing it from one person to the next, everybody’s muddy and dirty, and you’re trying to get it to shore. And then they would bring the truck behind to actually haul away the dried, once it’s dried up, right? Then they would haul it away. Or the chippers would come, sometimes. And we’d hired the chippers to come and just chip all of the wood. So all that back end, we couldn’t see that back end, now you can actually see it. Right? Cuz, just beyond all of the dried ones that they’re burning now… All of that’s open when before it wasn’t. I believe that, um, Dave Krupp and others had taken a drone up. And then they’d taken pictures of it so we could kind of see over time, I guess. How we’ve been- it’s been- all that mangroves have been taken away, right?
So in 2006, it was not like this. No… So every time I would come, you would see, you know, you’d think that you’re not doing enough work because you do four hours of work on a work-day, maybe three or four hours- and…and it’s like you feel like you didn’t even make a dent, right? And so it’s really multiple hands, multiple days, over the years and so you have to- I told my students when- At the end of the shift is oftentimes my students would ask me “I don’t think we made a dent here. It doesn’t even matter what we do.” I’d say “No,” I said “You have to keep coming back. You have to come back, and come back multiple years, because if you come back over time.
I can tell you. Cuz when I first started coming, we had all those mangroves back there. That’s all gone. When I first started coming, we couldn’t even see the back end of the pond. All of that was like half the size of what it is now, right? So, now you can see the back end of the pond. Before, the only time you could see it was you’d have to walk on the little path that you go back there, and you could see where it was on that back end, but you couldn’t see through this side because it was all blocked by mangroves. So all the mangroves are gone now. That’s amazing, I thought we’d never get rid of the mangroves. So many so many work-days; so many, so many people I got many a cuts and scars from all of those dried mangroves, if you’re ever trying to pass it. I’ve never liked mangrove crew. That was a lousy job. *laughs* –
CHANTELLEE: You said the limu, yeah?
COLETTE: -Limu! I love the limu. I love the limu. That was…wet and muddy and fun, so it was- Even on a hot day, you feel cool because you’re in the water, right? And that was always better than being out in the hot, sweaty, sort of passing those mangroves…But I’ve done all the jobs, I think. I even did the rock wall one time.
The one time I saw it, when we brought enough people. We had over a hundred people on that work-day, I think 120. -Wow! -It was the most we’ve ever had. And so… and we- and we had- had plenty rocks came and got delivered that day. So the point was to actually do it to-to do it like the old days. We had everybody lined up from this side of the wall, all the way to the other end, and we were just passing the rocks. And I was like super amazed because it was the first time I’d ever seen that happen at the pond. I don’t know what day it was, but it was amazing cuz you could see the whole line of people and go “This is how the Hawaiians built it.” You got a gang of people, a whole bunch, you line ’em all up, and it’s not as much labor if you have many hands, right? And you just have to- the goal was to just stand still and just go like this, and you twist, and it’s like good exercise, right? And you going like this, and you’re just twisting from one end to the other. But the point is to not step. And if your stepping, that means you got not enough people, right? Cuz, you want to really just have a chain of people… And that was working really well for a while, until the kids started bailing on us, right? So, all the adults were fine, the old were great at it, but the kids they all need to go take bathroom break, they gotta go get water. Next thing you know, you’re walking two or three steps to get your rock over and you’re going “What’s happening here?” You know? But that was a fun day cuz that was- We actually- All we did was just pass rocks, right? And that was pretty cool. And that was an amazing day.
CHANTELLEE: Yeah… Do you know or maybe just from being a teacher, do you know any moʻolelo about the area or…?
COLETTE: -Hmmm…I’m…No, I’m not really great. I haven’t done the history on this pond and I haven’t- And I don’t know the moʻolelo, um, of the pond. I think that- I’m hoping that Herb and others know and they’ve done the research…Although, it’d be kind of fun…Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, no..mine is just from the actual just coming and doing. -Yeah -Mhm. Mhm… Okay… Why is preserving the loko iʻa important, um…for the community? For, you know, for the seven generations?
[The Importance of Preservation By the Next Generation] 00:12:27.500 –>00:18:33.600:
SHANTELLEE: Why- Why is preserving the loko iʻa important?
COLETTE: -I think it’s important because 1) It’s one of the few fish ponds left, right? Kāneʻohe Bay used to have plenty. I think now, we have about five left, right? And I think Kāneʻohe Bay used to have what, 40 or something? So much of it has been- I mean just look on this side and you see all these homes. I mean, there used to be all kinds of fish ponds all around Kāneʻohe Bay, right? Um…So we’ve- most of them have been filled in, after the war, right? After WWII, I think they started filling in a lot of those ponds. So you look at old maps and how there were so many, right? It’s like Pearl Harbor, on the other side, used to have plenty fish ponds too, right? These were the two places on this island and now, it’s like none in Pearl Harbor side. And now we only have about five left on this side. So it’s like it’s important because it shows us what our ancestors could do years ago.
But you know, now, everybody talks about sustainability, right? And how we gonna continue to feed ourselves and when you think about a large population before contact in 1778, right? And how were we able to sustain a large population? These fish ponds were pretty amazing and our ancestors were kind of amazing to be able to pull that off, right? To have all of this fish, right? To have these ponds. There just ingenious sort of, engineering feat, right? So I think that if we can get them working again, and we have the potential of not just remembering the history of what our ancestors did, but learning from our modern science and our modern ways of doing things as well to use both, somehow, so that we can actually bring fish ponds like this under production again to see that- So we can feed our people so that we don’t have to rely on those Matson containers to bring in all the food, right?
And so our ancestors- I always think it’s funny, yeah, that, um, peoples- they’re looking to, nowadays, they’re looking to our ancestors, to the indigenous people, for some knowledge, right? That we have forgotten over the years, cuz we bought- in our ancestors had to change with everybody else, and we abandoned all these ways. Cuz we- you know, it’s easier to just get them at the store, it’s easier to do it this other way. We forgot the old ways of doing things. If there was something to it, they could support a very, very large population, and these ponds were part of that solution, right? The taro patches as well, right, was how we were able to feed our people.
If only we could go back into that, and this pond- there’s a potential to do that, right? And I think- we were hoping at one point, we could grab the…uh…sewage plant behind, right? Cuz they abandoned that, right? When they redid the whole sewage thing. So they abandoned that, and they used to have these huge tanks, right? And they’ve since demolished it, but we were hoping at one point that we could actually use those tanks and have sort of an aquaculture- You have the traditional right next to a sort of modern aquaculture- They had these huge tanks, right? So we were hoping that we could do that. And then we find out that they went and demolished it. That’s like “Aww…*laughs* …There goes that idea.” But, you know, if you could do that, imagine, if we could bring these ponds back… I know Heʻeia already doing. I know that- What was it? Moʻoliʻi? Ah, Kualoa Ranch. I think they’re already doing it, bringing it under production. Trying to raise fish there, harvesting it. But we haven’t yet, yeah? But it’s a solution, it’s one of the solutions for sustainability. I think, so we can actually eat, without bringing in Matson containers.
Right? Cuz, I think we on Oʻahu, especially, will be in big trouble, I think the neighbor islands are better, Hawaiʻi, Molokaʻi Kauaʻi. You know? I think theyʻre a little bit better. Maui got some…kinda like us sometimes, with the over-building with the tourism. So I think we depend too much on those container ships, and going to the store. And we don’t know how to grow our own food. So I think this is part of the solution of those. Probably not our generation. It’s probably going to be the next generation that tries to get food out of this- this pond. That would be amazing…
So it’s more like an educational pond, at the moment, right? So this is the pond that you have the most- It seems, to me, that people have the most access to, right? So since Kualoa Ranch is owned by private, right? So you gotta make arrangements and pay to go over there. Or…You can…I have made arrangements and I have taken students out there. But you have to make arrangements with their Educations Department. It’s a privately owned one. Heʻeia, also owned by Kamehameha schools, right? So they’re bringing that up- And it’s a beautiful pond, it’s huge, right? Heʻeia Fish Pond. But they have other goals as well. But it’s not- It’s- part of it is production and part of it is education. This pond has only been education, for now, right? So we haven’t quite gotten it to production. But I think, even if we ever do produce fish from it, I don’t- I get the sense that it’s not going to be for money. It’s going to be- If-if we make money off of it, it’s only going to be to go back to support the pond and the people, right?
Because say when we pulled out all the limu, we pulled out tons of limu, and we let it dry in a big pile out there. And then the farmers would come and grab it, and then they would use it for their loʻi. Cuz it was good for fertilizer, for the loʻi, right? So we recycled it like that, and it didn’t cost them anything. We didn’t charge them for that. We said “Oh, it’s good. We didn’t want it in the pond and you can use it.” Right? So this pond, to me, is always going to be there for education, um, probably first. And then, if we are going to ever produce food for feeding, I don’t think it’s going to be for like high profit or anything. It’s probably going to be for the community, right? Which may not be true for places like Kualoa Ranch or Kamehameha Schools, cuz those are different, right? It’s not a non-profit that owns it. They have to make money. They have to pay their bills, right? It’s a little bit different from this pond, who’s really just here for, um… It was this pond that started the whole kahea and that, um, educational…What is it? The curriculum they do, right? They did that here, right? And then it got kinda picked up at the other ponds, right? It was here. So that’s kind of the purpose, I think, of this pond, primarily. It’s mostly educational, I think. Come, and do, and see, and learn. I think that’s it.
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, awesome
[Colette’s Contribution: Connecting Students, Faculty, and Families to the Pond]
CHANTELLEE: What personal contribution are you most proud of?
COLETTE: Oh…What personal contribution am I most proud of?… With this pond? Mmm…uh I don’t know… It’s not something that you can see… with the eyes here. It’s probably just the people I brought here. Yeah? And so, I think it’s probably the students that have come and worked alongside. I just…I remember… Yeah, it’s pretty amazing, some of the students who have come out here with me. And then we get back into class, and the relationships that are formed in class because you’ve served outside. Um, so that service-learning model…I would never make it required for my students, because I don’t want people to come here, um, resentful that they have to be here. Give up a Saturday morning, you know, to do this kind of stuff. But I would make it optional and give them an optional assignment they could do that would replace another assignment if they came to the pond. So I made it an incentive, but it wasn’t required.
So the people who chose to come, um, didn’t mind getting dirty and they could bring their families, which was always wonderful. To get to meet their spouses and the kids. And then…So the people I had introduced the pond to because I said, “Come.” And “Come and serve in the pond.” And we’d get alongside each other, we’re getting all muddy and dirty together. We’re part of a work crew or team. And that I think is…I’m hoping that they’ve had experience- And it’s not just the students that I brought, but the faculty. At one point I was- I was in charge of developing like a professional development leadership program at KCC for Native Hawaiian faculty and for faculty who didn’t know anything about Hawaiian culture, to introduce them to Hawaiian culture. And my thing was all about “ma ka hana ka ʻike.” “It’s in the learning that you’ll do, so come with us to the fishpond. And let’s go out and work together!”
And then working alongside people who are not from my discipline, history, you know, maybe they teach English or math or science or whatever, right? and then they’d never come to a pond before, but because I invited them to come, and because I put it in the context of “This is professional development, let’s talk about it afterward.” And we have these discussions afterward of “What did you learn?” Right? And people- people- It was always amazing to me what people would learn from coming to the pond. And it had all kinds of metaphors and all kinds of other lessons that you never expected. So I’d always tell people “Don’t anticipate. Don’t have these high expectations of ‘I’m going to learn all kinds about fish ponds.'” You know, and all of that.” Come just to experience it. If you come and experience it, I tell you- Afterwards when we talk about it… all kinds of stories come up, right? All kinds of stories, right? And metaphors and teamwork, experiences, and all of that. So I think it’s… I think…I would hope that by introducing people to this pond, in terms of educational concept, uh, contact point, or a professional development contact point, that they will, this somehow- this pond is part of their memory of how Hawaiians used to do it. How we can, in the future, continue to do it. How just an organization and great leadership of Herb Lee, you know?
And that- the organization of doing this… It’s possible, right? Hawaiians can still do it. And we have done it in the past. And just this- This is just your physical touchstone to history, right? But also, to provide sort of guidance and how you should work as a team. How you should get to know each other on a different level. How you can- oh, so many different lessons out of this pond. And when I’d read my students’ reflections and when I’d sit around with faculty and talk about it, I’m- I was always amazed at how everybody got something different from the pond. It’s like the pond had a lesson to teach them, that they just needed to be here to experience, and sometimes it was just to get out of the house and stop looking at a computer and just relate to other people and in an actual place, because it gave us a purpose or something to do, while we were here, and you know, we had to figure it out while we were here.
I would hope that that’s…that’s what people remember or that’s my connection to the pond is that I brought other people here. And that they learn something from this pond. So even if they’ve never come here again, they came here that one time, and hopefully that made a difference to that if, in the future somebody is talking about, you know, not restoring ponds, or getting rid of ponds, or whatever. If-if in the future, everything-anything comes up where they can have a say in it, they’ll remember “Ah, we came out to the pond. It’s important.” We should remember this, how the Hawaiians used to do it before, right? They had something going here. Let’s make use of this, like, somehow. So I don’t know, it’s just those people that I introduced the pond to. It’s nothing I can see, I don’t- There’s many- much limu, but the limu is gone now. Some mangroves, but the mangroves keep growing back up again, right? So that stuff is always not…I think the people who built the rock wall. They probably- They can actually point and say “Hey, look what we did!” right? I mean *laughs* The rest of us, as you pull limu and as you pull- as you take out mangroves, it’s like it all comes back, right? So unless you keep at it, it will- if you don’t maintain it, those mangroves will come back, right? Because we see those seedlings, they come up and they’re everywhere, right?
But, I think it’s the people I met along the way. I can’t remember all their names I can still picture their faces, especially the students, right? But I tell you, the relationships that happened in the classroom as a result of the shared experience outside of the classroom, and this was a shared experience outside of the classroom, that then made the difference when we got back into the classroom, the different kinds of questions, the different kind of relationships. Cuz, we saw each other all sweaty and dirty and muddy, right? And we start asking people questions that we never thought of when we’re in class. You never have time to talk story in class, you find out that so-and-so grew up over there.
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, yeah, it’s just business in class…
COLETTE: Right, right! You only have time to do this stuff, right? But when you come here, you can start talking, because you’re- kinda boring, you’re passing stuff, and you think about what Hawaiians used to do, whether they’re making tapa, or whether they’re carving out something, right? Or whether- whatever the work is- I think that the work of our ancestors, a lot of it was side-by-side, just doing it together. A lot of manual labor goes into it, right? But all the talking and the sharing that goes with that. It’s never really quiet, it’s kind of whether, you know- Whether it’s an official kind of passing on knowledge and chants, or whether it’s just talking story and telling stories and just relating to each other on a different level. And that’s what the pond gave to my students, I think, who were in my class. Cuz it was different, I think, by the time we come back into class. It’s like they’re more…They relate to me differently too, because I’m not just a teacher.
You know, it’s the funny thing about working in-in the pond, I used to joke that both the limu- working in the pond and working in the taro patch, and I’d take my students to the taro patch, too. Interesting…The look of everybody working looks the same, yeah? We’re all bent over with a butt in the air. We all look the same, so at that point, you know, from the highest-ranking person, right, to the lowest-ranking person, it don’t matter, right? We’re all equal at that point. All of us got butts in the air as we’re bending down, working. And what are we doing? We’re working the land. We’re working to care for this place that’s more important than us. There’s a sense of equality in that, right? That shared experience of everybody with butts in the air, right? And then we all know what it’s like. We’re all sweating, we’re all working together.
And you get to see the personalities, that some people seem more bossy than others. They don’t really work as a team. You know? We brought different groups out here, even the NAPALI leadership institute, we brought the students out here. I’m on that board now, right? And they- we brought them out here, you could tell we got a whole bunch of like- you got 16 people who all think that their leaders. Oh my God, they’re super funny, right? They’re super funny because…who’s gonna emerge as the leader of the leaders, right? And the different groups we brought out here…some were great, they would work as a team, right?
There’s leadership and teamwork, and then others- You can tell the bossy ones went start saying “You do this, you do that.” And it’s like “Oh” Interesting, right? And so you have to kinda work through the difficulties, figure it out, and I would watch multiple times as we’d do like the line or the crew. Cuz I’ve-I’ve done enough of the work crew, passing mangroves, to know that if you do this this way, it’s going to be easier. If you do it this way, it’s not going to be as easy. So the basic difference was when those who knew how to work as a team knew that if we just put ourselves at the different spots than the person over there passes it to the person over there and you’ll figure it, right? But you all have to work as a team for that to work and people who were so independent, they didn’t want to do that, would grab the mangrove and haul it all the way to the shore by themselves and I’d look and I’d watch and I’m going “Okay, that doesn’t make sense.” All you have to do is unite another ten people with you, get on this crew and this line and everybody do it, but some people refuse to be part of that crew, part of that line. And they just wanted to do it themselves, and so they’re struggling and the effort of pulling it and dragging it the whole way-
CHANTELLEE: And then they’ll be exhausted…
COLETTE: Exhausted by the end. It’s like this doesn’t make sense. And then I try to explain to them “Why don’t we try it this way?” Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don’t, and you just have to, sometimes, let them learn by doing it, right? Learn by doing and then they watch and they see. So one line would be like our line and the other side, the other team is like…crazy. They’re all dragging, right? And you kind of- You hope that they’ll learn, right? But some are just- some just refuse to. And so everybody got- everbody’s gonna have a different lesson to learn, but there’s a lot to be learned about teamwork at this place, yeah? And as a team- as a crew leader, cuz I’d- sometimes we’d- they’d send me out the different ones, right? Eventually they just- “Collette, just give her limu.” But I’d- with different teams, it was so funny. Some would listen and some would not.
One time, they sent me out with a bunch of Castle High school boys. Oh my God, teenage boys…
CHANTELLEE: Teenage boys…
COLETTE: And they gave each of these teenage boys, um… a knife, right? Or like a..So it wasn’t a knife. It was sort of a U-shaped tool that we were gonna use it. We were gonna use to, uh- to what would they call it? Uh, we were just scraping away the outside bark around the mangrove, so…We found out that there was a better way to get rid of mangroves rather than cutting it down with a chainsaw and hauling it. If you actually take the mangroves that are standing and you girdle it! That’s what it’s called! You girdle it. You take this tool and you girdle. So you create this band of about an inch-and-a-half or two inches, around the whole- So you girdle around, you get all the outside bark out for a full inch-and-a-half or two inches. And then if you just let the tree stand in place, it will die, on its own. And so now you have a line of all these dead trees that are easy- you just leave it in place until you can haul it away, right? So they’ll die in place- It makes them easier to haul away because they’re all dry, compared to wet mangroves that are hard to haul.
So they sent me with a crew of about 10 boys, high school boys, from Castle High School into the mangroves, right? Each one with a tool to go and girdle the trees. My goodness! If you get a bunch of fourteen, fifteen-year-old boys, with a tool, it becomes a weapon, at that point. And they start playing sword-fight, right? And they start doing all this stuff. They start calling me ‘auntie.’ It was the first time one of them called me auntie. And I had to stop and think “Well I guess so.” They’re about my son’s age, right? So “Auntie…” “NO! Just girdle the trees, just do this.” No, I said next time- after I got out of that- okay “Next time you got a bunch of high school boys, send them with a guy. Send ’em with a guy that’s gonna just be hard on them because I was just ‘Auntie’ and they weren’t listening to me and they’re having sword fights along the way. And it’s like “Oh my God. They all signed the waiver, yeah? I think they all signed the waiver.” It’s like oh no, I don’t wanna do that again. So I think some people are better with that age group and I think if they had like a larger man that could kind of tell them what to do, they might have listened. With me, I was just ‘Auntie,’ and they weren’t listening to me and so I thought, “Oh, that was a lousy job.” *laughs* “I’m not doing girdling again. Not with high school boys!”
Those boys were- They’re rascals, you know? But they were good, in the sense that they didn’t mind doing whatever, right? So those were the same boys that would go jumping into that deep-end, where it comes up to your waist, all the mud comes up to your waist, and then you just can’t move after that, right? They just dive right in, right? It’s like “AHHH! What am I gonna do?” So many of the teenage boys, they just wanna- Learn by doing, making mistakes along the way, too, but I’ll never do that again. Taking a bunch of teenage boys to go girdle some trees. Give them each a weapon *laughs* It’s a tool, but they see it as a weapon. It’s too funny…
CHANTELLEE: A weapon- a toy…
COLETTE: A toy, yeah, yeah…It’s too funny.
Lots of stories, I guess. Lots of people. It’s interaction. This is just the backdrop for the interaction with people, right? I think they’ve even brought out- I wasn’t the one that actually would help out the crew- all the women- the Women’s Correctional Facility. The women from the prison will come and they would work on the back-end when we built like a..there was at one point, they made like, um, a gate? I guess. They took all the old mangroves and they made, like, uh, I don’t know… a protection area back there. They had worked on that and then they helped on the rock wall, as well. They used to bring them out on our community workdays, but that got a little complicated…
CHANTELLEE: The workers?…
COLETTE: The workers- The women from the Women’s Correctional Facility? The prisoners. They’d bring them out in these work crews, um, and they would come out and they’d help out on our pond. And they were really great. They used to bring them out on our community workdays, but then that got a little complicated, right, because the interaction between. And then, I remember, at one point, one of the women would say “Oh, so you know so-and-so? You know my son?” or whatever, and then I don’t think they wanted that interaction going on, um…So afterwards, they started coming on their own private days. And then Uncle Fred would take them and they always did beautiful work. They were so proud of their work on the rock wall and on that back end. I’m not sure if it was rocks that they did, but at one point they had built these, um… They had taken all the mangroves and they built this- like a fence or something back there. I’m not sure what it was, but they had worked really hard on it.
CHANTELLEE: Wow, that’s great- It’s almost therapeutic…
COLETTE: Yeah! They loved coming out here. Most of the women in Women’s Correctional were, uh, are part Hawaiian, and this was so important to them because it’s like they’re out, working as a team, and they had- they were in the community doing something- some important work. To help restore.
CHANTELLEE: It’s visual, too, yeah?
COLETTE: And you can see it, so you come back on a regular basis. I think they would come out, like… I forget how often… Was it twice a month? Um… They had to get all the right clearances and the permission, and Uncle Fred would be the one that would and he would buy them plate lunch, right? And so- Cuz they would work super hard, and he always was real good with them. And they just loved just…being out here. You know? And doing- It’s like the way I bring my students out here, I mean- But the women are so much better, yeah, before they have to go back in again. That they get to do this work…
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, yeah. It makes them, I don’t know. I guess feel normal…
COLETTE: Yeah, yeah. And they seem like such- so- so nice, but I think at some point- I’d watch sort of this interactions going on and I think that they didn’t want ’em coming on the same day as the workgroup because they thought if so-and-so were contacting so-and-so, and that’s the mom or whatever, I don’t know what goes on. And I have no idea, but I think it was better once they had their own day, to themselves. They could come out on a regular weekday. Nobody else was here. It was their day to do their work and they always took such great pride in their work.
CHANTELLEE: Their day, their space…
COLETTE: Such great pride in their work they did, you know? They really did… Um, they did- So I’m not sure how much is still left of what they did, but you know, they do come out.
Mhm…It’s a beautiful day now. Look it-
COLETTE: You get nice sun. We got no rain. It’s gorgeous. Look at that. Coconut Island. The Koʻolau Mountains- I love the Windward side, even though I grew up in Kaimuki. I’ve been living on Windward side, moved out to Waimanalo in ’88 and then I bought- we bought this home, my husband and I, ’98. So I’ve been out here for probably longer than I grew up in Kaimuki *laughs* Yeah- So it’s more my home now…
CHANTELLEE: Yeah…I have ʻohana in Waimanalo. That’s where my *inaudible* grew up…I mean, but I’ve never been here, but it’s a beautiful space…
COLETTE: Yeah, and people don’t know it, right? But once you come out here, it’s good, and then you’re like always part of this and you know, right? But it’s- it is a beautiful space. Lots of different work we’ve done here. It’s so beautiful that they’ve done, you know, so much work…Yeah, so much work- And that’s the group meeting over there, right now- the video. That’s interesting. How they- That’s why they have so many cameras. *laughs* Yeah…Okay…
CHANTELLEE: Is there anything else you want to share? Anything that…
COLETTE: Anything else I want to share?
[Looking to the Future] 00:33:39.600 –> 00:40:17.500:
CHANTELLEE: As an oral history project, you know, if- if someone is gonna listen to this or read through the transcript ten, ten years from now? Twenty years from now?
COLETTE: What would I want them to know?
COLETTE: I want to- I guess I want them to know of the many, many hands that have been here. This place is here because of all the volunteers, right? The community that has- and anybody’s welcome here, and we’ve met so many different people who come here and there’s so many different jobs you can do that if you keep coming here that you’ll just, you know, you’ll figure it out. I’ve done all the different jobs, right? I mean, from the little ones, like, I remember when we had, like, little toddlers coming, you know, with their parents- Cuz I love it when the families come cuz you got- Sometimes it’s the- the grandparents and then the parents and the keiki, so you got three generations. But most often, it would be the parents and the keiki. And the little ones, like- So you can’t- you- you don’t have a job for a little one. So the little ones who are toddlers, like about three or so, three, four, five years old, those kids.
You can actually send them with a bucket, with a bucket that they can hold, and then you teach them about biodegradable and non-biodegradable, right? And you send them out onto the beach areas, and so you’re looking for- “In your bucket, you’re gonna put things like plastic, straws, trash. You’re looking for trash.” So now they have to figure out what’s trash and what’s- what- what can nature actually deal with, right? And believe it or not, we’ve pulled out a lot of trash, right? From plastic covers from the- from the water bottles. That’s why we stopped doing this kinda water bottle and we start going to refillable ones, right? Um, to straws, to stirrers for coffee, right? To every conceivable thing, we’ve pulled out all kinds of stuff from- that washes up ashore, right? On the back end, where the water just sort of collects, at the end of the last mākāhā gate back there. On that one- Oh my gosh, you look at the sand, it’s very colorful. It’s not supposed to be colorful, right? It’s a lot of pieces of plastic, right? So, I mean, but the kids, little ones, can do this. The can do that, right? So that was a good job for a little one. They could figure out the difference between biodegradable and and uh, plastics, and things that you have to put in the trash.
Or you could send them to pick up all the pods of the mangroves. The little ones can pick up pods for mangroves. Cuz you don’t want the pod- the- those seeds, right, from the mangroves, to end up back in the pond, because it’s going to create another mangrove that you don’t want. So the kids could go around with their little bucket, and pick up all the mangroves pods, right? So, I just love when you can bring the whole family, right? And that’s the- the- this pond, that’s what’s neat about it, right? Um, it’s- you could bring a whole family, you can bring your class, everybody’s welcome.
This pond exists because of the volunteers, because of the people who have come over the years. So I hope 20 years from now, people are still coming, and that they’re still doing this, right? And they’re still maintaining it, rather than paying someone to do it. It’s just, uh, the community has invested their time and their, you know, blood, sweat, and tears whatever, you know, in this place, so that they feel invested in it. And I think that’s why it will survive and I hope it survives in- in this wonderful state that it’s in because of volunteers, because of community figuring that this is their pond. We belong here, right? We should be having a part of this…
CHANTELLEE: Taking pride and taking care…
COLETTE: Yeah! Right, right, yeah…So, I-I love when the families would come, and I never who enjoyed it more, the parents or the kids, or the fact that they get to do it together, right?
CHANTELLEE: No, yeah, and it’s- If you think, my-my son is turning three next month…
COLETTE: Yeah, and he could do that! A little one could do it…
CHANTELLEE: He would love it. I’m just thinking to myself: he would love it…
COLETTE: You know, so it’s-it’s funny, cuz in our world today, there’s so much screens, people got their earphones on all the time, they’re not relating to each other, and this gives you the experience of going back out and doing like our ancestors did years ago. Except they didn’t have to remove plastic, you know, but- We have different jobs now that we have to do sometimes, but it’s the whole family, it’s everybody. And the kids always love it because…I don’t know, for some reason, I think we tell them not to get dirty, or not to get wet, or not to get muddy, but over here it’s like “Go for it!” *laughs* Have fun! Just have to hope you have a towel and a change of clothes, right? But go-go for it, have fun, right? And that’s what the kids- It’s like the kids are surprised, like, we could give them- We’re telling them to get dirty, right? It’s like, go ahead…
CHANTELLEE: That’s a good release, too…
COLETTE: Yeah, you know…And- and you’re productive, right? I think that’s what’s neat about- The kids all realize that every single one of them had a job to do and I think maybe in our world, today, we don’t give kids jobs, enough jobs, and so if you’re part of the- It’s- Everybody has- So the men can go and do the big ‘old hard-heavy labor, right? The women can do other things, right? There’s a variety of things we can do. And the little ones, even the little ones, can help, right? And just being able to help, I think that’s amazing. That this pond has-has done that. I don’t know if other ponds do that, but I know I’ve seen it here, multiple times. Yeah. And the kids are so amazing, they just love it. They love getting muddy. They love getting dirty and wet, and they can’t come- wait to come back again. Except for the, mmm, the girls that are around…I think it’s intermediate, already high school, they don’t want to get like, especially when they’re coming with, like, they’re crew. Too muddy, too dirty, right? *laughs* Those are the awkward age, right? Where they don’t- You know, we tell them- Imma look at their shoes, You’re going “Hm, are you sure, you want to go in the pond with those shoes because they’re not going to come out looking like that. So we told you to bring your yucky ones.” The ones, that if it gets all muddy and dirty, you can toss, right? Tubbies! I’d always wear my tubbies, and I went through a couple of tubbies all the times I came, but the- It was funny to watch them, you know? The young- Yeah, those girls that are about intermediate? They’re getting all kind of girly-girl and everything has to stay-
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, that’s that age…
COLETTE: Those are the funny ones to watch. They’re just so- They crack me up, because they come with their class, and because it’s their classmates, they gotta behave a certain way and they ugh *laughs* You know? Um…but when they’re with their families, different. And they don’t have any of their classmates around, they’ll act different, right? It’ll be okay But, when you just coming with your classmates, because you gotta go back to the classroom, and there’s all the-the girl stuff that goes on. You know girls, and how they can be so cruel. But yeah, I see many different groups come…Good fun, good community building.
CHANTELLEE: I think so…
COLETTE: Yeah. I don’t know if there’s other ponds that do this, but I know that Waikalua Loko is definitely welcoming of- of all to come. I’ve met lots of people over the years. Done all kinds of work together…Mhm…Yeah…It’s wonderful, this pond. It’s been so long..It’s almost like I needed to come to the pond to relax. To get away from the stress. Yeah? The stresses of work, staring at a computer all day, and… *laughs*
CHANTELLEE: It’s a lovely break from being in the office, I’ll say that…
COLETTE: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. It’s a lovely break from the office. So this- I feel guil- a little bit guilty, but not really *laughs* But I’ve been in the office so much, and there’s all this staring at screens, so I’m sure my email will be crazy by the time I get to it, right? But I had it on my calendar, so anybody- my secretary and others can go look, I have- I’m booked for this day, from nine to three pretty much, right? That’s pretty much my whole day Yeah. Yeah…
[Sabbatical – In the Footsteps of Queen Kapi‘olani] 00:40:17.500 ? 00:50:58.900
COLETTE: So cool…So you know the story about my, uh- I traveled in the footsteps of Queen Kapiʻolani…
CHANTELLEE: Yeah! Yes! Yes!
COLETTE: Okay, I went on that journey, right? So my sabbatical, from April to June-
CHANTELLEE: What made you wanna…?
COLETTE: Oh, so I was researching- I was working at Kapiʻolani Community College. I worked there for 24 years, actually, from ’92 to 2016, I guess? Um, and so I taught Hawaiian History from about ’97 onward and, um, and they started asking me to do presentations for- about Queen Kapiʻolani, cuz it’s Kapiʻolani Community College, right? And I was the history teacher, so they said “Oh, we got visitors coming from the mainland. Can you do a presentation?” And that was, like, in 2002. So then I started researching her, and I started trying to figure out who she was, what she did. And there’s not a whole lot. I think most people knew about Queen Emma or Queen Liliʻuokalani, we don’t know enough about Queen Kapiʻolani, so I started going down that route.
So about the time I was on I was- I-I served as department chair…Ohh, I did four and a half years as department chair, but I was exhausted, and I knew that after two terms of department chair, I needed a break and I was gonna- I applied for sabbatical and I wanted a year’s sabbatical and so I thought “What could I do?” I wanna travel I wanna learn about Queen Kapiʻolani, I said “Oh! She went on this journey, all the way to London. I’ll do that!” And so I wrote that up as my sabbatical proposal. Took a year’s sabbatical spent the Fall of 2015 researching and digging through newspapers and trying to figure out what she did where did she go, so I could retrace her footsteps. And then from April to June of 2016. Retracing those footsteps traveled to nine cities, all in the order that she had traveled. Around the same time period she had traveled. Use the same modes of transportation, in general. So I flew to San Francisco, but I took a train across the continent and to the various cities she traveled to. And then I did a ship across the Atlantic, right? So I wanted to retrace her footsteps and a blog along the way.
COLETTE: So I did this whole blog, and every- I’m trying to blog every day. I didn’t quite do every day. I did 44 blogs in 56 days of travel. To nine cities, right? So it was kind of crazy, that- but it was wonderful. I was- I was glad I did it. Um…But, uh, you know, one of the things I was doing, cuz she stopped off in multiple cities, right? So San Francisco, Chicago, um- She just changed trains, we stayed overight. Then it was D.C., Boston, New York. And then she took a ship across the Atlantic and she pulled into Liverpool. And then she did- visited Norwich, this small town called Norwich, and then into London. So retracing that, around the same time period. So she left in April, we left in April. She got back in July cuz travel time in those days was like 25 days just to get from Hawaiʻi to England, you know. For us, it was a little faster. So we were gone for 56 days on the road, she was gone for 106 days on the road, right? But we didn’t have that long, you know, 25 days just to get there the way she did…But we retraced her footsteps the best we can.
And so when I was in, like, San Francisco, I was trying to figure out where did she go in San Francisco…One of the places that she went to was the old mint. So there’s the old mint in San Francisco, and the reason she went to visit was because Kalākaua had ordered his 1883 coins. Um- So there’s like, the dollar, the half-dollar, the quarter, and the dime. He ordered those in 1883, from the San Francisco mint, right? So she actually went to go visit, she went on a whole tour of the San Francisco mint, and saw how they were making coins and whatnot. And so we went on a tour of the San Francisco mint. It’s still there today, it’s not open to the public. They have a few rooms that are- they sometimes have events in, but most of it is- it’s just a solid building that never came down with the 1906 earthquake. And so it’s still there and I didn’t know how I was going to get myself into the San Francisco mint. So this was part of my challenge, as I was going to find these places that she had visited, how was I going to get myself into these places, right?
So I was trying to find out who in San Francisco could get me access to the mint. So, I come to the fishpond one day, and Andrea, who’s a lady, our volunteer who does all of the registration for everybody when they come in. So I was telling Andrea, I said “Okay, I got this sabbatical. I- I’m gonna leave in like weeks, in like- in like two months or whatever it was, and I said “And I don’t know how I’m gonna get myself into the San Francisco mint.” And then Andrea says “Oh, I used to live in San Francisco. I used to work right across from the mint. I know some people there.” And so she gets on the phone with somebody she knows in San Francisco who works right across of the mint, who knows the person to contact that’s part of the San Francisco city council so that they could- so then I gotta- She got me in contact with the person to contact so I could get into the mint. And that’s how I got in.
So the Waikalua Loko Fishpond was how I- So this is a weird story, right? So that’s the kind of behind the scenes that most people don’t know as they read my blog and whatnot. They don’t realize that the craziness that went into getting- finding these places. But that one was just sort of- so-so weird, right? Somebody I know from the fishpond, that used to live in San Francisco, who knows somebody that could get me into the mint. So that’s my connection, I got into the mint.
And then I came back afterwards and I told Andrea “I got in! Thank you so much! Your friend was so helpful!” And I had all these pictures and my stories to tell. It was kind of amazing It was just so… Hawaiʻi, right? So-and-so knew so-and-so, but then it’s like not just a small island, not just a small Hawaiʻi, but small world. I mean, this is- I had no idea how I was gonna get into the mint, and it was Andrea here at the fishpond who got me in. It’s like, so wild. And the people there- The lady who took me through on the tour, she had done this whole report. She was like, an architect-historian person, or whatever. She had done this whole report about the history of the old mint, it was at that only building, you got these pictures that- It never came down in the 1906 earthquake, right, because it’s so solidly made. It’s made of metal, right? And so, she- she knew the whole history of the mint and going around, and you know. And she’s giving me the tour. And then, she had no idea that our Kingdom of Hawaiʻi had minted our- our coins there, at the mint. She knew that a number of countries had minted their coins at the mint, but she didn’t know that Hawaiʻi had, and that we had coins minted there. It was, like, brand-new knowledge to her, right? And she was the lady who had the history of the mint. So then, I bust out my coin- I have an actual- I have a hapa lua, half-dollar- And I bust out my coin. So they’re collectibles now, right? So they melted most of them down around the early 1900s, when we became a territory of the U.S., right? They wanted to get rid of all the Kalākaua coins, but the smart people saved them, right, and collected them. So we still have collectibles. So I did get a- I had an older, this one is not as the mint-condition, so it’s hundreds of dollars, not thousands like the mint-condition ones. And I had my coin with me, because I told my husband, I said “I wanna bring my hapa lua with me.” Although I wanted to bring an artifact from the past and I thought it’d be fun to bring it to the mint! Because it was minted there, right?
And so I bust out my hapa lua coin, to show it to the people who were giving me the tour, and they got super excited! They had never- They didn’t know the story about out coins. They had no idea. And when they saw my actual coin, they wanted me to take it out of its little plastic. They wanted to take pictures. And they were so excited They had no idea. And I think it’s because- And I was kinda like a missionary about Hawaiian culture, or Hawaiian history, I don’t know. People didn’t know about our past and the history of Hawaiʻi. They didn’t know that we were a kingdom. I think people, even in California, don’t quite realize that we were a Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, and that the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi would’ve minted coins there. I think that they- they go straight to we’re part of the U.S., right? And Hawaiʻi is not- They don’t think of it as an independent nation that would have contracted to- with the U.S. government to mint coins at there- um- at there mint. So that was super cool. You know, they got all excited. Me showing them an actual hapa lua, my hapa lua, that I had. I just thought it was fun.
I kept it in my purse, my travel purse, and I just always kept it with me, but it was something, an artifact of the past, that I could take, to the place where it was actually made, and show it to the people who know the story about the place, but they didn’t know the story about Hawaiʻi. They didn’t know the story about our queen. They didn’t know the story of our king. They didn’t know the story about our coins. So I felt like I was this missionary about Hawaiʻi *laughs* It was fun, it was fun. But there’s my Waikalua connection to my journey all the way to-to London.
CHANTELLEE: That’s so cool…
COLETTE: So I did a blog, right? So https://inthefootstepsofkapiolani.wordpress.com. So that blog, um, it, basically, was another- I had worked with a travel blog, uh, before, when I actually was on the road. And then a year, when I got back, in 2017, they closed down that company, so I had to migrate everything to a WordPress site. So now, it just sits on a WordPress site. It’s there. Anybody can see it and kinda- it’s- it’s just my day-to-day, sort of what I was experienced. This is what the queen did, this is what I did. I saw all kinds of things. I think I found the two trees that she planted. One in, uh, Wellesley College, in- near Boston, and one at Rackheath Hall, which is near Norwich, a city in England, yeah? A town in England. So I think I found those-
COLETTE: -two trees she planted, which is pretty cool. So yeah. And then I saw this- the tower. It’s in, not too far from Norwich, at this place called Pine Banks Tower. There’s a tower that she ascended, four stories high, um, and there’s a plaque on this tower that says ‘HM’ Her Majesty ‘Queen Kapiʻolani Ascended This Tower 6 June 1887.’ So that was my favorite place on the whole journey, cuz the tower is still there, and they won’t tear it down because it has our Queen’s name on it. And they had no idea about Queen Kapiʻolani. They didn’t know her story, they didn’t know about her, and so I got to tell that story as well. So, um, yeah, so we even went all the way- and- and the place where she planted her tree, in England? That place, they didn’t know anything about our Queen either. They didn’t know that she stayed at Rackheath Hall. They didn’t know that she planted a tree there. So I brought my pictures with me, from her album. You know, the Bishop Museum has it in their archives. So I had these photos of the pictures from her album to show them of Rackheath Hall in 1887, when the Queen stayed there. Even the Royal Standard is flying over Rackheath Hall when she was there, at the actual time she was there, cuz the Royal Standard was flying over Rackheath Hall. So that hall is still there, which is amazing. It’s like a big mansion, right? And that is kind of amazing, that it’s still there. So, so many big estates, or large mansions, were tore down after World War I and II. Just- Just too hard to maintain, you need servants for them, right? And so…It’s kind of amazing it’s still there. That that building is actually there, and they had no idea. They didn’t know the story about our Queen, and our Queen had visited there. Kind of amazing. Anyway, you can go to the blog and read all about it, or watch the videos. Or watch the videos *laughs*
CHANTELLEE: That sounds so cool.
COLETTE: Give me your email, I’ll send you some links, and you can watch the videos or read the articles.
Oh, is that, like, telling us we gotta be pau? The wind is blowing too hard? *Crew updating on weather*
CHANTELLEE: That was good-
COLETTE: Andrea would be very annoyed by this. Andrea was all about no one-use bottles at the pond. She would always make sure we brought the water and the jug, right? And everybody had to bring a dispos- a- a- a recyclable one…
CHANTELLEE: No, yeah. That’s what I thought…
COLETTE: She was totally against…
CHANTELLEE: was happening. That’s why I brought…
COLETTE: Yeah, she was totally against this kind. And I can’t even open- my hands are all mark-up. Can you- Are you good with these things? My hands have been bothering me. I’ve got, like this- I don’t what it is. If it’s arthritis or what, but I have a hard time, now, grabbing things.
CHANTELLEE: Okay, so I think it’s just about 10:30…
COLETTE: Is it?
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, and we’re supposed to *laughs*
COLETTE: When? Whe- When are we supposed to be pau?
CHANTELLEE: At noon…
COLETTE: Oh, we got plenty time!
[Colette’s Connection to Queen Kapi‘olani] 00:50:58.900 –>01:01:46.900
We can talk story, I can tell you all about the trip. *laughs* That’s funny. Sorry, but I love Queen Kapiʻolani. The more I learn about her, I just love our Queen. There- There’s this interesting story related to fishponds and the Queen, as well. She actually had a fishpond, where she lived in- so you know town- downtown? So you work for Cultural Surveys, so they’ve done lots of surveys of Kaka’ako area, right?
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, yes.
COLETTE: So the Queen actually lived on what is now, um… So you know where, um, the Board of Transportation building is, at Punch Bowl and Queen? So it’s right at that corner. Okay, so that whole block, from- So, Punchbowl, Queen, South, Halekauwila, that whole block? That was her property, Queen Kapiʻolani’s property. So her home used to be right where the Board of Transportation’s building is, right? So, when she got married to Kalākaua in 1863, he was not king. He doesn’t become king until ’74, right? So where do they move to? They move into her home. Right there, where, uh, she had her home. Right where the, um, transportation building is today. And then where Honuakaha is- That was the name of that property, right? Her property was Honuakaha. So right next to the Board of Transportation, there’s a old- an elderly home now, it’s called Honuakaha. And they found a lot of, um…It used to be a graveyard from 1853 smallpox epidemic. So they took all the graves and they moved them behind the home, to this big old mound, I guess they put the bones. Um, anyway, and then I think if you go further down, there’s a Primo brewery. And then there’s the, on South and um- South and Queen, is the, um, the fire station, right? and you go around the block and so…Halekauwila and South is where my ancestor had a home, so my- I found out, in researching, that my ancestor served Queen Kapiʻolani, was one of the retainers of Queen Kapiʻolani. Mind you, I find this out in 2014, and I’ve been researching Queen Kapiʻolani since 2002, and I don’t know why I’m drawn to her story, right?
And I come to find out that my Queen- my ancestor, Kaʻimihaku actually had a home there. And I know this because the Queen had 12 of her servants lived on that property, and she, um, she gave them land. Before she dies, a year before she dies, she decides she’s gonna give them a lease, a perpetual lease for their- themselves and their direct descendants for that land. And so she didn’t- I’m thinking about it before she dies, so this is like…This is on her birthday, that she signs these- these leases and she’s giving these land- these lands to her servants, because she knows she’s sick, I guess, right? She’s had a stroke already. And so I think she’s being real smart about her property and she doesn’t want her servants to go homeless, so she’s actually giving them land. So they all got these leases, and then Kawananakoa and Kalanianaʻole. Her nephews, who had inherited the land, they had- they owned the land, but it was being leased to all the people.
They actually gave the land deed to my ancestors back in 1902. So basically, they said “For a dollar,” Cuz it used to be only a dollar a year, “So for a dollar, you now own it. I sign off these deeds.” So I’ve got- I found the, uh, in the Bureau of Conveyance, they have these, um, documents where it’s signed off by Prince Kawananakoa and his wife, Prince Kalanianaʻole and his wife. These are Kapiʻolani’s lands that they are now giving over to my ancestor because she was a servant of the Queen. So I didn’t know this. This is, like, wild for me. So… I’m drawn to the Queen’s story just- kind of- Part of it was happenstance, I’m working at KCC, they want me to start doing these presentations on the Queen, I start learning about it. But as I start learning about her, I’m attracted to her story, and I don’t know what’s going on here. Why am I drawn to her story? Nobody seems to know her story and then I find out that my ancestor was actually-
COLETTE: -was working for her. I don’t know what she did…
CHANTELLEE: That’s what’s pulling you.
COLETTE: Yeah, I think so! I don’t know what she did for the Queen, I really don’t, um, but I think it’s pretty cool, cuz I was thinking- At one point, I thought “I wonder if my ancestor ever met the Queen.” And then to find these documents, it was just pretty wild…
CHANTELLEE: She- She did more than meet the Queen…
COLETTE: Ohh, yeah… The Queen actually gave her land- you know- gave a lea- the land, you know? Um, and that was amazing, these 12- And there’s a thank you letter that the 12 of them signed…Um… And I got a translate it cuz I’m not fluent in Hawaiian, but I know people at KCC who are, right? So they translated it for me. Even the land deeds, I got it translated as well. Um…So, it was kind of amazing. And so it’s kind of like…The Hawaiians sense is that your ancestors can speak to you, in different ways, and I think-
CHANTELLEE: Yes, absolutely…
COLETTE: -this is the way my ancestor’s probably speaking to me. So, back to fishpond story. That area of Honuakaha, if you actually look at a map, yeah, and you’ll see that that- So that end, where- where her home was, Honuakaha and that area, um, was- that’s where the home was, but on the backend of it was these fishponds, and they were all filled in. So the area where my ancestor lived in the 18- You know, you’re talking the-the 18, before she dies, 1890’s, right? Um…That’s all filled, it used to be fishpond, cuz Kakaʻako, right?
CHANTELLEE: Yeah, yup…
COLETTE: And you have salt flats, right, but there’s actually a fishpond. So her property of Honuakaha, on that backend, Halekauwila area, used to be fishponds, but all of that is filled in. So you look at the maps and pictures of it, you can actually see it. It’s there, yeah. And that was her land. That whole block, she inherited from her first husband, Bennett Nāmākēhā, right? So she- she had all of this property from him, right? And so…She’s young, she’s only in her 20’s when her first husband dies, and Kalākaua, you know, he marries her in ’63. She’s like- She’s born in ’34, so she was only- she’s young, right? Thirty-four, fifty-four- Wait…Thirty-four, forty-four, fifty-four, right? She’s only 20…She’s not even 30 yet, right? Yeah, yeah… She’s not even 30 when… Anyway, she would’ve been 30 in..right…in ’64, right? But she’s only 29. So she’s only in her 20’s when she becomes a widow, inherits all this land, right? Um, yeah…So, Kapiʻolani, that’s the person I really like to research, and yeah…I’ve been on that journey. I think I’m the only one from Hawaiʻi to do this, or retrace it ever since she went in 1887.
CHANTELLEE: I have never heard anybody do that. That is so cool.
COLETTE: *laughs* I did it! That was my sabbatical. I had a year’s sabbatical. It was lovely. It was like the-the the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. The most amazing thing, yeah…And there’s a fishpond connection, so there you go. *laughs*
CHANTELLEE: That is so cool…
COLETTE: There’s a fishpond connection. Yeah… So I got back in ’16. I got the job at Windward, as a dean. And then, um- So now, what I do for fun, people ask me what I do for fun, as my hobby: I give presentations about the Queen. That’s pretty much it. That’s what I do. Cuz I don’t get to teach now. Cuz as a dean, right? As an administrator…So people ask me to just cover- You know, I get interviewed for videos. Or I go and I make presentations of different places, right? Zoom now, everything’s by Zoom now. So I’ve reached to, like, Arizona and, you know, other places because, you know, you can go on Zoom now and give presentations, right?
So, that’s my research, right? And you know she was born in Hilo, yeah? Kapiʻolani. She was born in Hilo, and she- although her family, she has family genealogy from Kamualiʻi on Kauaʻi, as well as Kekaulike from Maui, right? So she has that in her genealogy, she’s high-ranking, right? But she was actually born in Hilo. I don’t know where in Hilo, somebody must know. I don’t know where…But she was born in Hilo…
COLETTE: Yeah…You didn’t know?
CHANTELLEE: No, I didn’t know
COLETTE: Didn’t know- Most people don’t know about Queen Kapiʻolani. This is my big quest in life. Is to just get people to learn about the Queen.
CHANTELLEE: I didn’t know…
COLETTE: Yeah, yeah…It’s even, like, when I found out that-that-that land, right- when I made that revelation. By then, my dad had passed on. Um, so I-I think it was…When did I find out? Uh…Maybe it was 2015 I found out, because he had, yeah, 2015. Cuz he died in February of 2014. He would have thought this was super interesting, cuz my Hawaiian side comes from my dad, right? And he knew I was in this whole Kapiʻolani thing, and he had seen some of that, and although never my presentations, he had heard about it…But he would’ve thought that was pretty amazing. Cuz we had this name of an ancestor, but I knew nothing about this ancestor. I still don’t know what she did for the Queen, right? But to find these documents, right? And that’s the beauty of our Hawaiian ancestors, they’ve left us all these documents. They’re all in Hawaiian, by the way. But they left all these documents, right? And you can go and look at the Bureau of Conveyance, and you can see that they’re signing off on these land- the land transfers that’s happening, right? That’s kind of amazing, right? That..I mean, they were- they were…a very sophisticated nation and they done it so quickly, right?
So you figure that contact happens with Captain Cook in 1778. American missionaries come in 1820, and introduce writing of of our language, right? So between 1820 and when she’s, like, traveling in the 1880s, you know, it’s like 60 years. That’s not a lot of time, but our country had advanced so much that we- Everything is written now. We have court documents. We have Bureau- You know, y’know, we have Bureau of Conveyance, all of the land deeds are there. It’s just it’s kind of amazing that we had advanced so much and we’re recognized by England and France and the United States, and all these treaties with all these nations, right? So even when our Queen was there in England, she was treated very well by the Queen Victoria, right? In fact, she got the best seat in the house in all of Westminster Abbey, our Queen Kapiʻolani and Princess Liliʻuokalani, was seated right at the place of honor, right? It was kind of amazing, so I mean it- I-I just think that history is interesting. And Kapiʻolani in particular, now that I know my connection to the Queen, it’s, um, I-I have to find out more. I don’t know. I don’t have time to keep doing the research cuz I’m too busy being a dean, you know…
CHANTELLEE: But you want to know more!
COLETTE: I want to know more, I want to know more, yeah. I know some, I know pieces, yeah. And I think it’s kind of amazing. Yeah…I want to know more. She was very interested in women’s education, and college education for women. She was interested in people with disabilities, and how do you educate people who are blind and deaf, right? Um, she visited those kinds of schools when she was traveling. So in these cities, when they’d asked her “What do you wanna see?” She said “I want to see schools.” So she wants to see schools, uh, colleges for women. She wants to see schools for the people who are disabled. She wants to- And then she’s also going in and inspecting places like prisons and hospitals. This is why she opens up the hospital, called Kapiʻolani Maternity Home initially. She sees schools, hospitals, prisons, lunatic asylum. She’s visiting all these different places. It’s really quite interesting, all the- To me, I was more interested in her journey and all the places she was seeing along the way, rather than London. London is interesting, but it’s not that- To me, it wasn’t the most interesting part of the story. No, the most interesting part of the story was actually her way there and all the places she visited and the stories that unfolded, yeah… So that’s what I was focusing on. That’s why retracing her footsteps, trying to find buildings that she saw, and that she stayed in was important to me. And in England, it’s like “Jackpot!” because, you know, they got old buildings, they’re still around. Not so much in the U.S..I mean, the old mint was a big one in San Francisco, but there are others like I think she went to Mills College in San Francisco [Oakland]. She visited that, so that was still there Mhm, right…So you don’t have to interview somebody else? *laughs*
*END OF AUDIO* –>01:01:46.900
[Transcription by Kauilaokahekiliokalani (Kauila) Freitas-Pratt, Student Assistant Transcriber]
|7. Metadata Colette Higgins Audio interview||Descriptive Metadata Fields|
|Title:||7. Audio Recording of Interview of Colette Higgins
(Interviewed at Waikalua Loko I’a Fishpond on 10/14/2021)
|Interviewee’s Name:||Colette Higgins|
|Occupation:||Dean, Windward Community College|
|Dates working with Waikalua Loko Iʻa:||1995 – present|
|Biographical statement:||Colette Higgins, Dean of Academic Affairs, Windward Community College and former professor of history at Kapiolani Community College who specializes in history of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. Her students from Kapi‘olani Community College regularly participated in community work days at the pond. Her sabbatical research study was conducted in 2016, “In the Footsteps of Queen Kapiʻolani.” See: [https://inthefootstepsofkapiolani.wordpress.com/]|
|Interviewer’s Name:||Chantellee Spencer|
|Interviewer’s short biographical statement:||Cultural Specialist, Cultural Surveys Hawai‘i|
|Date of Interview:||October 14, 2021|
|Location of Interview:||Waikalua Loko Iʻa, Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu|
|Description:||Colette’s background and relationship to the fishpond; serving on board of Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society; new role as dean at Windward Community College; diminishing limu at pond; service-learning by students and their families at the pond; preservation efforts now and in the future; the importance of preservation by the next generation; her contribution of connecting students; faculty; and their families to pond; looking to the future.|
|Subjects:||Keywords: ancestors, Castle High, Hawaiian Immersion, Honuakaha, Blog: InthefootstepsofKapiolani, Ka‘imihaku, Kalākaua coins, Queen of limu, mangroves, NAPALI Leadership Institute, pond ownership,
Queen Kapi‘olani, rock passing, sabbatical 2015, sediment, servant leadership, service learning, volunteers, Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society, Windward Community College, Women’s Correctional Facility
|Name of Transcriber:||Kauilaokahekiliokalani (Kauila) Freitas-Pratt|
|Transcription Statement:||Reviewed, formatted, and approved by Doug Knight.|
|Technical metadata fields|
|Format Type:||Audio recording|
|File Size:||Part 1: 8.5 MB
Part 2: 30.1 MB
|Duration:||Part 1: 0:17:34:000
Part 2: 1:01:46:900
|Administrative metadata fields|
(unique identification # or file name)
|(Part 1) 7. Colette Higgins audio Pt1 .m4a
(Part 2) 7 Colette Higgins Audio PT2.m4a
|Rights Statement:||Copyright: © 2022 Pacific American Foundation. All rights reserved. This work is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are permitted to use for research purposes with proper credit, citation, within reservations of Pacific American Foundation.|
(Traditional Knowledge/Local Contexts):
|In 1995, the Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservations Society was created to: perpetuate the practices of the Hawaiian fishpond of educational purposes; to physically beatify and revitalize the pond; and to provide the community with an opportunity to learn about both ancient and modern Hawaiian fishpond practices. The intent of the Society, and now carried forward by the Pacific American Foundation, is to maintain and sustain activities at the pond, and to restore the pond for future generations to learn, teach and add to the knowledge in addressing the islands need to develop better stewardship practices between the land and sea.|
|Restrictions:||Prior approval from Pacific American Foundation for any use other than educational purposes.|
|Citation (cite as):||“8. Audio Recording of Interview of Colette Higgins
Interviewed at Waikalua Loko I’a Fishpond on 10/14/2021”
|Grant Recognition:||This interview was made possible with grants from the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities through support of federal funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and private funds from The Hana Group.”|
|Structural metadata fields|
|Associated files||1 of 1, see Transcription file:
8. Colette Higgins Audio Transcript Final Parts 1&2.docx
|Part of||Part of the Waikalua Loko Iʻa Oral History Project, 2021-2022|