Charles Lono Kelekoma (1871-1936) was born a pure-blooded Hawaiian on the ancestral lands of his family by a hillock named Ahuhauli on Ka Lae o ka Manu Ridge in Wailua Valley, Kauai.
In the accompanying photograph taken in 1936, Kelekoma is standing on Ka Lae o ka Manu Ridge, pointing toward Wailua Kai. One can see Ahuhauli to the left, where Kelekoma’s ancestors are buried, and in the foreground is Poliahu Road, later named Kuamoo Road, which follows the ancient King’s Highway.
For many generations, Kelekoma’s forbears had been retainers of Kauai’s chiefs.
He was the great grandson of Kumauna, a retainer of Kaumualii, the last king of Kauai, and Kumauna was the lineal descendent of the retainers of Moikeha, Palila and other famous Kauai chiefs.
Lono Kelekoma knew every legend and historical fact connected with Wailua Valley, and as a young man, he guided Kauai Judge Lyle A. Dickey (1868-1946) many times through Wailua Valley, identifying historic sites and informing him of the legends and history of the valley.
Dickey carefully wrote down what he’d learned from Kelekoma and forwarded this information on to Honolulu’s Bishop Museum.
Because of the work done by Kelekoma and Dickey, it is said that more detailed information has been written about the folklore and bygone days of Wailua Valley than of any other place on Kauai.
More importantly — had not Kelekoma told Dickey what he knew of Wailua Valley, and had not Dickey recorded and preserved his knowledge, it may have been lost forever.
In December 1933, Kelekoma provided invaluable technical expertise to a team of volunteers led by Grove Farm director Henry Digby Sloggett during the restoration of the Holoholoku Heiau, also known as the Ka Lae o ka Manu Heiau, located close by the Wailua Birthstones.
Kelekoma retired as a Kauai police officer with the rank of captain in 1933.
He and his wife, Sarah, had two adopted children: Franklin Kelekoma and Mrs. Sarah Sheldon.