DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Kawelo family is a fishing family that has an extended genealogy dating back several generations at Kaneohe Bay. Shown on top of the coral wall that forms the Heeia fishpond are Warren Kawelo, left; sister Lina "Ipo" Johnson; brother Galbraith "Gabby"; Gabby's daughter Hiilei; Gabby's wife, Janet; brother George and Noreen Young. Hiilei Kawelo is the executive director of the fishpond group Paepae o Heeia, while her father, Gabby, and several uncles are also fishermen. CLICK FOR LARGE
Generations embrace care for the ocean
The Kawelos work to protect a fishpond and preserve species
For about three decades, Hiilei Kawelo has been fishing with her father on the Windward side of Oahu.
Her father learned to fish from his grandfather and uncles, then passed on the knowledge to his children.
"If we didn't fish we wouldn't physically die, but spiritually we would," Kawelo said.
Hiilei and her sister Kapua are carrying on their family's love of the ocean and nature by helping to preserve tra ditional culture and the environment.
Hiilei, 30, is executive director of Paepae o Heeia, a nonprofit organization that manages Heeia fishpond.
Kapua, 34, is head biologist of the Oahu Army Natural Resource program for U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii and works to protect native species.
Their mother, Janet Kawelo, former deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said: "They have an affinity for the out-of-doors. They thrive in it."
In 1896, Kon Sing Ching, Hiilei's great-grandfather, was born. He later managed a fishpond in Kaneohe and taught his sons how to fish.
On the Kawelo side of the family, Hiilei's great-great-grandfather George Manuia Galbraith learned traditional squidding from his mother's side of the family.* His father, George Galbraith, was an Irish whaler who married a Hawaiian woman and moved to Nuuanu in the mid-1800s.
To preserve traditions and the fishing skills of her family, Hiilei became involved with the Heeia fishpond, teaching about ocean life while sustaining the resources.
She became a founding member of Paepae o Heeia, the nonprofit that manages the fishpond, about seven years ago after graduating from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a zoology degree.
Kapua Kawelo manages 32 employees in the Army program to protect native plants and species.
"I love plants. That's from my family for sure," said Kawelo, a 1995 University of California-Davis botany graduate.
"Being exposed to a family that's depended on fishing my whole life," she said, "has given me perspective on how fragile that all is and helped me want to work towards conserving for all the resources."
As for the next Kawelo generation, Kapua Kawelo teaches her two children, son Kanehoalani, 6, and daughter Hoohila, 4, about the biology around them.
"They both can recognize a lot of native plants and fish," she said. "It's a family thing."
Friday, July 27, 2007
» George Manuia Galbraith learned squidding techniques from his mother's side of the family, who lived on Oahu's Windward side. An article Sunday on Page A18 incorrectly said he learned the techniques from his father, George Galbraith. Also, Galbraith's father lived in the Nuuanu area, not on the Windward side.