Ka’apuni’s Mo’opuna: “The Three Musketeers.”

This is the tribute I shared at a memorial service for my uncle, Valentine Kalipo Rowe.

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My name is Marilynn Lokelani Kauhane Howe. My father is Samuel Kainoa David Kauhane. I am here in honor of him, and our Uncle Peter Hale Kauhane, with whom my dad shared me as a daughter.

My cousins, Kelly Ann and Anthony, invited me to tell you a story called Ka’apuni’s Mo’opuna: “The Three Musketeers.”

In the land of Puna, Ka’apuni’s mo’opuna, known as Val, “K” and “Pe-tah.” They became Ka’apuni mo’opuna because Ka’apuni raised our grandmother, Eunice, as a hanai daughter.

In order to begin a new life, in a new land, our grandmother was forced to leave her first three children on the Big Island. It was an impossible situation with lasting consequences for her and her three young sons. 

But that isn’t the end of our story.

Even though Ka’apuni was well into her sixties with children and grandchildren of her own, she raised Uncle Val, my dad and Uncle Peter as her own. She was determined to take care of them until the youngest, Peter, was old enough to take care of himself. And she did.

Ka’apuni’s mo’opuna called themselves “the three musketeers.” They were Ka’apuni’s little troopers, following her wherever she went. Hunting for red lauhala. Harvesting taro. Collecting ulu. She was also a landowner and businesswoman, renting her boats to village fishermen and providing lauhala goods to townspeople. Then, too, her mo’opuna were close by. Watching and learning. 

Ka’apuni had large, calloused hands. Today, we would call her an artisan. Back then, she worked to survive and provide. Like Ka’apuni, the three boys had to earn their place in this world.

During the war, the military took over the coastlands, and so, the family was moved to Kapoho. There they lived a hard life. Especially in the fields.

As the oldest, Val was the first to work hard to survive in the fields. Then, he developed a sharp mind to get out of the fields.

We only have one photograph of Ka’apuni and her mo’opuna. The image reminds me of a story my dad would often tell us. Ka’apuni taught her mo’opuna towash their own clothes by hand – they each had four aloha shirts and four pairs of pants. After the brothers washed and dried their clothes, Ka’apuni taught them how to light coal on fire to heat the iron. After making careful pleats, they sprayed kerosene on their pants to make them
shine. 

As a child, Val, prophesied about Kapoho. He said, “The volcano will destroy this town.” He was just a kid, so everyone laughed. Ten years later, when Ka’apuni passed away, Kilauea took the town.

As orphans once again, they stood over her grave and vowed to take care of one another. That vow lasted for their entirety of their lifetimes.

Whenever a major decision was to be
made, they called Val. When they needed help, they called Val. When they had good news, they called Val. In Ka’apuni’s wake, he became their mentor. 

Before Ka’apuni passed away, she shared a prophecy. She told her mo’opuna why the volcano would take the lands they loved: Her beloved Ohia trees has been cut down.

Ever since, there has been an eruption with the passing of each one. First, in the 1950s in the wake of Ka’apuni’s passing. Then, in 2014 as my father and his youngest brother passed away. And this year, 2018, we mourn the passing of her last hanai mo’opuna as lava flows towards her land. 

It is a curious thing. 

I will always believe that these three boys from Puna are loved by God, our Ke Akua. Why else would the lava flow? Of all the elements in this world, lava best symbolizes the life that was giv-en to Val, K and Peter. 

Fire. Anger. Heat. Light. 

And, also…

Renewal. Energy. Respect. Life. 

Today, I am hear to echo Uncle Peter. He said, “We are all linked together forever, without Val, we would not exist.”

May we never forget the aloha he had for his ohana, our ohana.

Please pule, pray, for the family, and pray for Puna.