Gabriel Ka'eo

Gabriel Kaeo Image
Location of Interview
Collection Name

A Social History of Kona


This project, a case study of Hawaii's social history, focuses on Kona where people nurtured the development of a community and participated in and witnessed some.of the major historical developments of the islands. 

Date of Interview
Principal Investigator
Biographical Sketch

Gabriel Ka'eo, a native Hawaiian, was born on February 18, 1903, in Wai'ea, South Kana, Hawaii. His parents were Jones Emmanuel Ka'eo and Harriet Kamoku. Throughout his life, Gabriel lived in various places including Kealia, Hookena, Kana, and Honolulu. He held a variety of jobs such as a sugar plantation laborer, coffee picker, stevedore, contractor, and a stone wall builder. In 1926, he married Katherine Ka'ai and they had two children. As of the time of the interview in 1980, Gabriel was residing in Hookena.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Gabriel Ka'eo, conducted by Larry L. Kimura, took place on December 17, 1980, and January 13, 1981, in Kealakekua, Kona, Hawaii. The interview was conducted in Hawaiian and later translated by Larry L. Kimura. The interview covers a wide range of topics, including Gabriel's birthplace and early life, his experiences living in different parts of Hawaii, and his various occupations. Gabriel also shares his memories of the local community, including a man named Ka'au'a who taught dancing and a postmaster named Mr. Lincoln who was a beautiful dancer along with his Hawaiian wife. Gabriel provides a vivid description of the local landscape, which was mostly grass and open, with Elli grass and 'ohi'a trees being the main plants. He also talks about the industrious nature of the Hawaiian people, including his grandfather who would walk from the beach to the mountains in a day, planting sweet potatoes and taro along the way. The interview also includes Gabriel's recollections of communal farming and food preparation practices, such as the collective peeling and pounding of taro into poi. He discusses changes in land ownership and the influx of retired haole (foreigners) building homes in the area. Finally, Gabriel talks about local schools, including the small Ala'e School and the Ho'okena School located near the beach.

Interview conducted in Hawaiian (translation)

Program Note:  
This interview is part of the Center for Oral History's project A Social History of Kona.  Interviews from this project are available in the Center's ScholarSpace open access repository.

The Center for Oral History (COH), in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, collects, documents, preserves and highlights the recollections of Native Hawaiians and the multi-ethnic people of Hawaiʻi. It produces oral histories and interpretive historical materials about lifeways, key historic events, social movements and Hawaiʻi’s role in the globalizing world, for the widest possible use.

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