E Komo mai kakou!
Grandma Kapuaala

Richard Kapuaala

Alan Kapuaala
Moolelo `o ka makou inoa

The story of our name

We really owe our name to BF Dillingham the man who created the Oahu Railway and Land Co. It was on his tracks between Honolulu and Aea that my Grandfather was born in 1906.

Our name Kapuaala literally translated means The fragrant blossum or flower Ka pua 'ala

However - infants were also refered to poetically as Ka pua 'ala so I guess you could say our name really means The child.

But Kapuaala is only part of the original name given to Ernest Raymond Kapuaala. He was born on the train just before it reached Aea station, and because of this his Hanai mother, Emily Rose Mahelona, named him Kapuaalahoonioniikealahao; which roughly translates to "The child rocking on the railroad".

His real mother Luka Kailieha Norton lived with Emily Rose Mahelona with her children and mother prior to and after his birth and changed his last name a couple of times after that (which is not uncommon among Hawaiians of her generation). In a 1910 U.S. Census he appears in her household as Ernest Kapuaalaikealoha. They are living in Emily Rose Mahelona's house in Puhale, but Great Grandmother Luka is listed as the head of household.

By the 1920 census he and his hanai mother Emily Rose Mahelona were alone in the home at Puhale and his name becomes what we use today Kapuaala. From what I (Richard Kapuaala) can recall from conversations with my Grandmother and Elder members of our family; Luka Norton remarried some time while Grandpa was still young and moved her family to her husbands home. Except for my Grandfather Ernest, who was hanai to Emily Rose Mahelona.

Both Great Grandma Kailieha and Great Grandma Mahelona were old fashion Hawaiian women. They were both over 40 by 1906 and used to the old ways and laws of Hawaii before the Kingdom of Hawaii was usurped. The word hanai literally means "to be raised" but it was also used to mean adoption. This informal practice was and still is in some parts of Hawaii common.

Queen Liluokalani was the hanai daughter of a very powerful chief. Unlike western adoptions the hanai was open, children knew their real parents and sometimes spent time with both parents. A practice made easy in the early days since there weren't any words to distinguish your parents or relatives. Anyone your parents age was called father or mother and anyone your grandparents age was called grandpa or grandma.

Later, after western intrusion, the distinction between father and uncle and mother and aunt were introduced into the vernacular. From that point on parents or hanai parents were the only members of the community allowed to enjoy the title mother or father, while everyone else became your uncle or aunty.

This is still common today. Everyone is your cousin, and everyone is your Aunt or Uncle or Grand parent.

The way the story has been told to me is that Great Grandma Kailieha and Great Grandma Mahelona were good friends and lived together at Puhale in the Mahelona home after Great Grandma Kailieha's husband whose last name was Norton and who was not the Father of my Grandfather, died.

She was a widower when she met my Grandfathers father (whose name I cannot confirm precisely so am not mentioning) and became pregnant with my Grandfather. This was unexpected to Great Grandma Kailieha. She had several children already and they were almost grown. She was well in her forties and thought to be past child bearing. In old Hawaii it was a common practice for a woman that was blessed with a lot of children to hanai a child to a sister or a friend who was childless.

Great Grandma Kailieha had both a friend and a sister who were childless and both woman wanted Grandpa. I imagine it would be difficult to decide who should get your child when you are as close as Luka Kailieha was to both woman so they worked out what seemed to be a fair plan for deciding.

They decided that as soon as Luka felt the birth coming she would board the train to her sisters home in Waianae and if the child was born before Aea it would belong to Emily Rose. Other wise the child would be given to Luka's sister.

The day Luka felt the child coming, she boarded the train for Waianae with Emily Rose and a Doctor they knew. Needless to say she went into labor before they made it to Aea and my Grandfather was born and hanai to Emily Rose Mahelona.

Emily Rose raised my Grandfather to man hood and after he married she helped take care of his family. My father Allen Kapuaala used to speak often about her. She was very dear to him and he kept a scarf she had given him just before she passed away.

After she passed away she willed everything she had to my Grandfather.