Margaret Spinney

Margaret Spinney 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

Margaret (Kamaka) Spinney was born on September 26, 1910, in Kalaoa, North Kana, Hawaii. She was the daughter of Jacob Palakiko Kamaka and Kalua Pimoe Makahi, who were lau hala weavers. In 1930, Margaret moved to Kailua, Kana, where she worked as a coffee bean sorter at the American Factors coffee mill. A year later, she married Arthur Spinney, a commercial fisherman. In 1937, they moved to Oahu, where Arthur began working as a parks keeper in Nanakuli. Ten years later, they returned to Kana. Margaret is known for her skills in crocheting, gardening, and lau hala weaving, and she is also active in senior citizens' activities. She learned lau hala weaving from her mother and grandmother, and she had to leave school early to help with the family's lau hala business.

Scope and Content Note:
This interview with Margaret Spinney, conducted by Larry L. Kimura on December 16, 1980, provides a detailed account of her life and experiences. The interview was conducted in Hawaiian and later translated by Larry L. Kimura. The interview covers Margaret's early life in Kalaoa, Kona, including her family's lau hala weaving business and her work as a coffee bean sorter. She discusses the construction of her family's house at the beach, which was built when she was less than a year old. Margaret also shares her experiences learning lau hala weaving from her mother and grandmother, including the tradition of burning the first hat made to gain knowledge on hat making. She talks about the changes in the lau hala weaving industry, including the increase in hat prices and the shift of weavers to hotel work for faster money. The interview also includes Margaret's recollections of her mother's work habits, including her tendency to weave hats from evening to sunrise.

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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