Kupuna tales: Old Laie and the Hukilau

Ahi Logan[By Mike Foley: Originally published in KALEO, September 25, 1997]

Ahi Logan’s [pictured on left] family roots run deep in Hawaii. Names like Kuakaha, Kawaiopua, Kaleohano, Nainoa and Lokona Kalili have great meaning to him, his family and the community. These are names of just a few of his ancestors. Logan can trace his family line back several generations because of the importance family and traditions played in the Hawaiian culture.

They were just able to recently connect on their Nainoa side. A lady named Makaua Kang gave Wilma Fonoimoana, Logan’s cousin, a box containing family records about four years ago. She gave the box to Logan and he discovered missing information that enabled him to trace his genealogy from himself all the way to the first man on his Nainoa line through his mother, Keli’iwaewae’ole.

On his father’s side Logan still needs to identify two more generations before he reaches all the way back to the first man. He has found identical names on both sides of his family ancestor charts showing how the various lines are intertwined.

“My grandfather, Kaleohano, and Nauhiwa Kalili were the second and third converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [in Hawaii] after their cousin, Jonathan Napela. They were instrumental in getting a lot of people from Ka’u to settle in Laie. A lot of people who settled in Laie are related either to the Kalili side or Kaleohano side. They were the two early missionaries that came from Maui to Lana’i to Laie on my father’s side. My mother’s side was from Laie,” stated Logan.

The first LDS church built in Waikiki was built on property belonging to Logan’s grandparents. His grandfather, Sam Nainoa, served as branch president in Waikiki in the early 1900’s. His mother remembered attending church there.

When his great-grandmother passed away, his grandmother was raised in the mission house by Joseph Fielding Smith. She married Logan’s grandfather, Lokona Kalili. During the late 1890’s he dropped the Kalili name and went with Logan. Prior to that there was a law that required the people to have a Christian name. His grandfather became Samuel William Logan Kalili.

For Logan, growing up as nine children in his family in Laie meant the LDS church played a major role in their lives. His mother served as the ward and stake Relief Society President. Ahi being the youngest, everywhere his mother went, he went with her. His mother was always dedicated to her duties. Every Sunday after church she would visit the ladies. There was only one ward at that time in Laie.

“My mother was a hard worker. I can still remember when we still would go pick guavas to make jelly and climb a lot of guava trees then back up behind the Hawaii Temple. Most of the area was planted with sugar cane.

“My mother worked for the sugar company as a water girl. She carried water to the workers. She had a bamboo pole across her shoulders with a bucket on each side. I remember even my older brothers worked for the sugar company. They would pick up the sugar cane and put it into carts drawn by mules. The mules then would pull it out. This was before the train came in the 1930’s. There was work to do for everyone. It’s not like now, where everyone is sitting back looking for the good job.,” reflected Logan.

The community of Laie was close knit, he also recalls. There was no wasted motion as compared with today. Logan has seen how things have progressed. He came from a fishing family. Their boat house was on what is now Hukilau Beach. In those days a fisherman would set the nets and the whole community would come out to pull the fish in. If there were visiting church officials they would give them the best fish and divide the rest of the fish among the community. Any remaining fish they would take to Honolulu to sell.

Jubilee Logan at the HukilauOne of the key positions in fishing was the head diver. There was a big boat about 24 feet long with a steersman and three oarsmen and two that cast the nets over as the boat was being rowed in a semicircle in the bay. The best job was the diver who would sit on the bow, Logan said. After the net was dropped the diver would go down to create a pocket in the net. That way the fish would be trapped inside. Logan got to be a diver when he was 17.

“We would do it two or three times a week. During the summer the schools of fish would come into the bay by the thousands. We would go and surround them and bring them close to shore and harvest them. We would take baskets of fish to town to sell. They would stay in the nets in the water for three or four days. The other schools of fish were waiting in the bay for us to go catch,” laughed Logan.

The casting of the nets and the community pulling the nets in together became known as the Hukilau. The first Hukilau that Laie had was the idea of Logan’s father, Jubilee Logan [pictured at right]. He was the Elders Quorum President in the ward and they needed to raise money to build a new chapel. It became one of the main fundraisers of the ward. From this event a famous song has been written about going to the Hukilau. The Hukilau was a forerunner of the Polynesian Cultural Center.

As a student Logan participated in a 4H farm program where each kid had a plot 20 by 20 feet. Each would plant a home garden right by the Laie Chapel. At the end of 1942 and beginning of 1943 a lot of military bases were established here on O’ahu. They would come around in bus convoys and stop at the Hawaii Temple. The children would sell coconuts and bananas. At that time a coconut was 25 cents and apple bananas were two or three for 25 cents.

“Coming home with five or six or seven dollars a day was big money. If you can remember a popsicle was only a nickel. The Polar Bears, the super good ice cream that would only come around in a truck on Sundays was 10 cents. My sales got me so excited I was playing hooky from Sunday School. The church was just on the other side of the Temple. When a bus load of people would come along they would park next to the chapel and we would go out on Sundays. After a couple of Sundays from playing hooky, my mother explained it to me.

“You know son, the Lord gives you six days to sell your coconuts and on the seventh he expects you to pay your respect and go to Church. You really have no need to sell on Sundays,” stated Logan.

This teaching opportunity from his mother had a major impact on Logan’s life. When he opened Ahi’s in Kahuku he was closed on Sundays and Ahi’s is still closed on Sundays in their new location in Punalu’u. It has always been a guide in his life. Sundays are for his family, friends and resting.

After Logan graduated from Kamehameha School he was drafted in the military. From there he went to San Jose College in California. After he graduated he was a swimming coach in Saratoga for five years, often putting on lü’au to raise money for his swim team to travel to competitions. In fact, everywhere he went he did lü’au. He had just finished his season when he found out his parents were taking a group of people from Hawaii to perform in the Hawaiian village at the 1965 World’s Fair in New York.

“I saw this beautiful hula dancer (Cheryln). I decided I liked her very much. It took me three months to ask her out for lunch. I became part of the performance group, which helped me be around her more. We developed a good friendship. I married that hula dancer. From New York we went to Puerto Rico where we started our family,” Logan said with a smile.

His first job there was as a swimming coach for a Puerto Rican fraternity. He ended up being a swim coach for the Pan American Games. He coached there for five years. He coached two hours a day and taught four swimming classes on Saturdays. After that he worked for the Navy providing meals for the Officers and coached a swimming team. They returned to Laie in 1970.

Logan worked with Marine Culture Enterprises, a shrimp farm. To ship shrimp to outer islands he had to have a certified kitchen, so he started Ahi’s. A virus killed the shrimp and ended his job with the company. Logan, along with his wife and five sons working with him, made Ahi’s a wonderful restaurant. The first Ahi’s burned down in June 1996 and they reopened Ahi’s in its current location in Punalu’u. The great food and atmosphere makes it a favorite place for friends and family to gather.

“My family and I have been blessed with living in Laie. It has been a great place to grow up,” concluded Logan.


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