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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 18, 2002

Rooted in Kuli'ou'ou Valley

Ikaika Texeira practices his skating on the Reeves family compound in Kuli'ou'ou Valley, while extended family members play nearby at matriarch Auntie Sister's home.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

 •  Seven generations of the Reeves family

By Will Hoover and Wade Shirkey
Advertiser Staff Writers

Early this morning, if all goes according to plan, a handful of Kuli'ou'ou Valley residents will gather outside the house at 366 Kuli'ou'ou Road and proceed on foot to Naleialoha Place, the dusty lane a short distance away. There, official greeter Keolani Noa, chanting in Hawaiian, will call out neighbors one by one and welcome them into the fold.

Bobbi Ka'aihili takes pictures of family members at Kakela Beach park. The Reeves family gatherings are designed to acquaint younger family members with their relatives, past and present.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

The growing procession will continue on to the next lane, and then the next, calling out and welcoming more and more neighbors, until, by the time it reaches Manukapu Place — three tenths of a mile from its starting point — the throng will number more than 150 people.

Each one is linked to Charles Armistead Reeves and Rose Lokalia Miguel Reeves, who were married in 1903 and raised nine children.

Reeves' descendants have scattered since the clan's beginnings. Amazingly, though, of the more than 500 kinfolk, 29 families still reside in 26 homes within the original nine-acre Reeves homestead tract in Kuli'ou'ou Valley — a virtual one-family village.

Today's procession marks the "10th Annual Reeves 'Ohana Kuli'ou'oulympics" — the latest in a long line of excuses hatched by the family to throw a reunion, play games, eat lots of food and acquaint younger members with their relatives, past and present.

The games consist of obstacle courses, volleyball, three-legged and rice-sack race competitions, and come complete with the ceremonial awarding of gold, silver and bronze medals, handmade of koa wood.

There are canoe races and male vs. female tug-of-war contests (usually won by the women, according to female relatives), and the ever-popular doughnut-eating contest for the little kids.

Jo Jo Correa plays with her 5-month-old grandson, Kumakani Correa, during a family picnic at Kakela Beach park. revelry dates back many years. This year's gathering includes a procession in Kuli'ou'ou, games, food and lots of storytelling.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

Always the event is designed for the benefit and enlightenment of the children.

The occasion is also a testimony to family kinship that hearkens back to days when roads were dirt, people rode horses and every adult relative was parent to any kid in the clan.

"All of us kids played together," said Bobbi Ka'aihili, 65, who had 49 cousins who, she says, seemed like brothers and sisters. "When it was lunch time we ate at whoever's house we were at."

Ka'aihili's niece, Keolani Noa, says it wasn't until after she left the valley that the she became aware of the family's unique closeness — both literally and figuratively.

"I was 25 years old before I realized everybody didn't live like this," said Noa, who is now 48 and has nine kids of her own. "I thought everyone lived like us. I never suspected we were special."

According to the reigning family matriarch — Naomi Correa, affectionately known to all as Auntie Sister — the special Reeves Kuli'ou'ou Valley saga began when Rose Reeves, who was half Hawaiian and Portuguese, and Charles Reeves, who was Irish and English, acquired nine acres of homestead land in the valley for $400 in 1912. Auntie Sister is Charles and Rose's granddaughter.

The procession for today's gathering of Reeves family members will start at Kuli'ou'ou Road and end at Manukapu Place. More than 150 family members are expected.

The Honolulu Advertiser

Charles, a Tennessee adventurer whose family disowned him for marrying a "savage," died at age 59 in 1927 — the year Auntie Sister was born. Rose outlived Charles by many years, dying in 1977 at the age of 91. In the 1940s she saw to it that each of her nine children received one acre of the homestead land.

Over the years, the 'ohana grew and the generations passed.

"Some left, some came back," said Angela Correa-Pei. "But there's always been a Reeves here."

According to Renette Parker, Auntie Sister's niece, while other families disperse to the winds, the Reeves band stays together largely because of the home in the valley. Bobbi Ka'aihili — even Auntie Sister — have briefly gone away at one time or another. But like others, they've been drawn back.

Today, the clan is beginning its seventh generation. Although Reeves still dominates, the surname list contains 192 others — from Ahuna, through Lima, Mukai, and Paglinawan, to Young. The family traces its history to Ireland, England, Portugual, Korea, China, the Philippines, Mexico, Africa, and Japan, as well as Hawai'i.

It is also, according to Auntie Sister, heavily Catholic and Democrat (although a few Republicans have apparently infiltrated the ranks).

And it includes one international star, actor Keanu Reeves, who visited the valley as a child but hasn't taken part in a Kuli'ou'oulympics.

Naomi "Auntie Sister" Correa, 75, matriarch of the Reeves family, in her Kuli'ou'ou home with some of her relatives.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

By the time today's procession reaches Kuli'ou'ou Beach Park, where the contests take place, the gathering will have swelled to 450 people or more, as relatives from elsewhere in the valley, Neighbor Islands and the Mainland will have joined the merriment.

Because this is the 10th Kuli'ou'oulympics anniversary, the reunion is a special two-day affair which started yesterday morning when four Roberts Hawai'i tour buses loaded with relatives traveled to the Mamiya Theatre at Saint Louis School for a family PowerPoint presentation of more than a thousand photos.

After that the whole gang descended on the beaches at Hau'ula for an afternoon of eating and swimming.

"It all started out as a way to have a birthday party and get together so the kids would know more about the family," said Bianca Reeves, who, along with her husband Strammer Reeves, was among the third-generation family members who organized the Kuli'ou'oulympics in 1993.

In this 1930s photo, Naomi "Auntie Sister" Correa, 6, is seated next to original matriarch Rose Reeves.

Family photo

"The first year about 50 people came out, and it rained, and we all huddled under a tent."

Now, the procession and Kuli'ou'oulympics have become an annual tradition.

But the family has another vital gathering place — 332 Kuli'ou'ou Road — where Auntie Sister holds court to a procession of relatives each day. The house, which rests quietly in the shade of four mango trees planted by Auntie Sister's father, "is the heart of the family," according to Bianca Reeves.

It is the only family dwelling in the entire original Reeves tract that doesn't have some kind of fence around it. Older relatives recall a time when there were no fences anywhere in the valley, and folks simply walked unobstructed from "one auntie's house to another."

Now, they congregate at Auntie Sister's.

"It's always open," said Renette Parker. "Everybody comes to see Auntie Sister. If you need a phone number, if you need to know where someone is, you can always call her. She's action central."

Reeves family revelry dates back many years. This year's gathering includes a procession in Kuli'ou'ou, games, food and lots of storytelling.

Family photo

"I don't know how Auntie Sister does it," added Paul Jones, Correa's cousin, who lives next door. "There's a constant stream of people coming in and out, every day, all day long. The president of the United States — the Pope — could come in and she'd treat them the same as anyone else."

"...Well, the Pope would get her out of her chair," chimed in Paul's wife, Ann.

Auntie Sister says the family just has a knack for getting together, and always has. She holds up a photo taken in the 1920s of the original wood-frame family house.

"I was born in that house," she said. "It was right over there across the road."

The photo shows more than two dozen festive family members gathered around the house. More pictures depict numerous other gatherings.

A headline from a newspaper article written more than three decades ago reads, "300 Reeves, Miguels to Hold Family Reunion."

"Auntie Sister" examines the 1912 deed to the family's Kuli'ou'ou land. Each of the nine second-generation children received one acre.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

The article tells about a planned family get-together at the Charles Reeves residence, largely for the sake of the children. It mentions that the reunion would be attended by family matriarch, Mrs. Rose Lokalia Reeves, age 86. It also mentions that the largest family there would be that of Mrs. Edward Correa — Auntie Sister, mother of 14.

"I've been at all of the Kuli'ou'oulympics, but for the last five I've been semi-incapacitated," she said. "I only go down for one or two hours and then come home. But, it's fun. Everybody gets together and they tell stories, and they talk loud and they argue — but they all love each other.

"I think it will last."

• • •

Seven generations of the Reeves family

Of the hundreds of Reeves' family relatives who have scattered far and wide since the clan began in 1904, today 29 families in 26 homes still reside within the original nine-acre family homestead in Kuli'ou'ou Valley — a virtual one-family village.

Rose Lokalia Miguel Reeves, circa 1930s

1st generation, parents Charles Armistead Reeves Rose Lokalia Miguel

Charles William Joseph Henry Elizabeth Abigail Lucy Wallace Samuel
4 4 4 9 3 9 9 5 5
9 26 8 17 10 24 25 10 12
18 70 5 16 20 16 30 10 11
3 43 6