Food Box

Hi‘ilei Kawelo at He‘eia fishpond: learn about fishing the old-style way.

Talk-story with Fishing Family

He‘e We go!

If you want to kookoo hee, you’ve got to have somebody to kookoo and a good ‘okilo ia.

Got that?

If not, learn the terminology and technology of different styles of octopus-hunting at an upcoming talk-story session at Bishop Museum with “Uncle Gabby” Galbraith Lohiauipo Kawelo and his daughter, Hiilei Kawelo, executive director of Paepae o Heeia, a group dedicated to rebuilding and reviving Heeia fishpond, near Kaneohe.

For eight generations, the Kawelo ‘ohana has lived in Kahaluu and been known for their octopus-capturing skill.

Primarily, when the sea is glassy and still, they use the kookoo method, poling a flat-bottomed boat (between them, the family owns about six or seven of these) with a sharp-eyed watcher (the ‘okilo ia) scanning for octopus sign, said the younger Kawelo. You can also free-dive with a spear, or wade along the reef at very low tide.

Hiilei Kawelo, a university-trained scientist who is as at ease caked with mud in a taro loi as she is writing grants, said the event will be structured in much the same then-meets-now fashion as her life.

There will be lots of pictures and a Power Point presentation. But, mostly, there’ll be talk-story.

She recalls her grandfather’s homemade method for scraping the walewale (slime) from the octopus while salting and pounding it to tenderize the flesh. It involved string, a pole, a sawhorse and an old chair and long hours of slamming the creature up and down, up and down.

Today, the family just freezes hee; the freezing does the tenderizing.

The Lure and Lore of He’e: Fishing Traditions of the Kawelo Family, 6pm May 10, Atherton Halau, Bishop Museum.