homepage logo

Smith helps retired judge discover his Hawaiian roots

By Staff | Mar 11, 2010

Aloha Kekoolani-Simmons (left) served as cultural editor for Katherine Kama‘ema‘e Smith’s book, “The Love Remains.” They are pictured at a book signing.

KAPALUA — West Siders will have the opportunity to meet Kapalua historical novelist Katherine Kama‘ema‘e Smith on Saturday, March 13, at Barnes and Noble in Lahaina Gateway.

“The Love Remains” author will not only sign books, but she will give a talk on “Impact Genealogy” from 1 to 2 p.m.

“I want to talk to people about genealogy. To me, genealogy is in the forefront right now… You’ve got to do it if you want to be in the Hawaiian Kingdom. The Akaka Bill just passed the House, and it’s predicted to pass the Senate. Proving native bloodlines is going to be the way the people access the self rule and rights and privileges of being a Native Hawaiian,” she said.

“Genealogy is not just a nice-to-know topic any more,” Smith noted. “Now, it is serious business and entertainment.”          

Smith is referring to “The Generations Project,” a reality series helping those with questions about their family history investigate their identities.

The historical novelist will appear on the next Generations episode with Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Trustee and retired Circuit Court Judge Boyd P. Mossman of Maui.

The program will be aired on Monday, March 15, at 5 p.m. on cable channel 409.

In an interview with Lahaina News, Smith explained her connection to the Native Hawaiian OHA trustee and “The Generations Project” filming.

“They came to Maui in the process of researching his genealogy. While they were here, they went to Bailey House Museum, and what they were looking for was information about Isaac Davis and his daughter, Kale Davis, who was a kupuna of Hawaii. Of course, the Bailey House people knew about my book, so they sent the genealogist over to me.”

The transplant from New Jersey became well-known at research facilities during the 12 years of writing the life story of Kale Davis, kupuna ali‘i of Honokahua (Kapalua) and descendent of Mo‘i Pi‘ilani.

Her search led her to Oahu and the Pacific archives, Missionary Children’s Museum, State Archives, Bureau of Conveyances, Bishop Museum and back to Maui and the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints Family History Center in Wahikuli.

Along the way, Smith learned how to read Hawaiian.

Liko Rogers is her Hawaiian language teacher.

Smith described the chicken-skin episode exposing the hidden family identities of the honored Circuit Court judge that will air on Monday night.

“They came to Maui with a TV crew and took him to the places that were prominent in his genealogy and told him all about his ancestors. One of them was (Kale) Davis. They took him to Iao Valley, and then they brought him up to Kapalua. They showed him his ancestral lands here, and we went to Kale’s grave. Then I revealed his genealogy to him while Clifford Nae‘ole chanted.”

In addition, they visited Hulu Kupuna Edna Pualani Farden Bekeart at her residence on Lower Honoapiilani Road in Kahana to learn about King Pi‘ilani.

“He met Kalele Mahoe, who runs Wayne’s Carpet over in Wailuku; she is a descendent also. Then they went over to Oahu and met other descendants. Aloha Kekoolani-Simmons chanted his ancient genealogy back to Pi‘ilani to him.”

“He knew nothing of this,” Smith remarked.

Kekoolani-Simmons, M.A., is a highly respected Hawaiian-Pacific Island Studies instructor, entertainer and artist.

“I was contacted by the show in order to share Hawaiian cultural information on mo‘okuauhau (genealogy) and to recite the nine generations of chiefly lineages of Pi‘ilani of Maui, which connected OHA Trustee-Judge Boyd Mossman to his native roots — and his chiefly ancestors in Maui.

“The show members were informed by my brother, Dean Pua Kekoolani, and Katherine Kama‘ema‘e Smith that Boyd Mossman was related to our Kekoolani ‘ohana. My brother, Dean Kekoolani, is a prolific genealogist in the Hawaiian Islands, and he asked me to please participate,” Kekoolani-Simmons said.   

“It was a surprise for Boyd Mossman, for him to meet his own family member (myself) and to hear the chants of his ancestors. We shared many special moments in the filming, including ‘ohana a me ke aloha aloha — sharing love of family and the gift of breath of life — face to face. It was quite emotional for both of us, and we were both thankful for all the people who made it possible for us to meet. They filmed Boyd Mossman and I at the Queen Liliuokalani Gardens located in the Kuakini area, near the Pali Highway and Liliha district on Oahu,” she added.

Kekoolani-Simmons was also associated with Smith in the preview of her novel, “The Love Remains.”

“Kama‘ema‘e has written a beautiful novel which helps the average person to understand Hawaiian culture, and the impact of foreign assimilation to our Hawaiian Islands. I was blessed to be the cultural editor on her book, and it was a good experience working with her… she, too, was willing to listen to new ideas for possible changes, edits and also, to be pono and respectful in her writing approach to ‘mana’ o Hawaii — Hawaiian thinking.’ ”

What inspires Smith?

“It’s my deep love for Hawaii,” she said. “I am led; I feel the spiritual leading. I’m not sure exactly how; don’t ask me why. I’m just walking through open doors.”