Sacred Texts  Pacific  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 122



THRUM shows Kane and Kanaloa dwelling at Ala-kahi in Waipio with "some of the lesser gods such as Maliu, Kaekae, Ouli [Uli], and a number of others," but, unfortunately, does not give his source for the tale. The mischief maker Maui meets his death while trying to steal bananas from the gods, an incident which suggests the story of the old woman roasting bananas on the road to the other world so common to quest stories not only of Hawaii but of the southern groups. Uli is the principal deity worshiped by sorcerers. She takes precedence of Haumea in this capacity. A sorcerer's prayer quoted by Emerson reads:

E Uli e!
E Uli nana pono,
E Uli nana hewa,
E Uli i uka,
E Uli i kai,
Eia mai la o (Puhi), he kanaka,
He ia wawae loloa,
Ke iho aku la,
Ke kuukuu aku la,
Nana ia (Puhi),
He ia wawae loloa mai ka po‘o a i ka hiu . . .
O Uli!

"O Uli, look upon the right,
O Uli, look upon the wrong,
O Uli, toward the mountains,
O Uli, toward the sea, here is [the person cursed] a man, A fish with long legs,
He is descending, He is being let down,
Look upon the person cursed,
He is a fish with long legs from head to tail. . . ." 1

p. 123

[paragraph continues] Maliu (Accepted) is the name given to a deified deceased chief, says Andrews. At the opening of the Kumu-uli genealogy recited by chiefs alone, Maliu is associated as a god with Kane, Kanaloa, and Kauakahi (First war). Ku-kauakahi is the owl god to whom bodies are offered to become owls. It seems fairly evident that sorcery which depended upon the practice of dedicating the dead to become family protectors, and the preserving and setting them up for worship, was recognized if not inaugurated by the Kane worship. 2

The legend of Pumaia tells how the spirit of a dead man whose bones are worshiped may force the chief Kuali‘i himself to respect a vow made to a god.


When Kuali‘i builds the heiau of Kapua‘a to his god Kanenui-(a)k(e)a, he demands the hogs of Pumaia, a hog raiser at Puko-ula adjoining Waiahao in Kona district, Oahu, to use for sacrifice. Pumaia keeps back one favorite pig. which he has vowed shall die a natural death. Kuali‘i sends messengers to demand this last hog, but Pumaia kills each messenger until none are left. Finally Kuali‘i catches, binds, and kills Pumaia and throws his bones into the pit with others. Pumaia's spirit advises his wife where to find his bones. She and her daughter hide in a cave at the top of the left-hand peak of the Nu‘uanu pali and worship his bones until Pumaia as a spirit is stronger than when he was alive. Food and treasure are stolen from Kuali‘i's men, and the chief has no peace until he has built three houses, one for the wife and daughter, one for their possessions, and a third for the bones of Pumaia. The kahuna then prays over the bones and restores them to life. 3


The dedication of a corpse to become an owl, mo‘o, shark, or other animal form or a flame burning in the service of Pele, may be an even older practice than that of using the dead as fetchers to work for the prosperity of a family and carry sickness or trouble to their enemies. A native pupil in the

p. 124

schools of early days says rather dryly that the soul after death had three abiding places, "in the volcano, in the water, on dry plains." 4

Owls (pueo) are among the oldest of these family protectors. In a legend from Maui, Pueo-nui-akea is an owl god who brings back to life souls who are wandering on the plains. The owl acts as a special protector in battle or danger. "The owl who sings of war" (Ka pueo kani kaua) says the chant. 5 The universal guardianship of the owl is expressed in the saying attached to it, "A no lani, a no honua" (Belonging to heaven and earth). The flight of an owl through the air was carefully watched by the leader of a defeated army and to the spot where it alighted he would lead his men, "protected by the wings of the owl." Many stories are told of escapes from imminent danger due to an owl. A warrior under Kamehameha in the thick of the battle was about to plunge over a precipice when an owl flew up in his face and he was able to thrust his spear into the earth and save himself from the leap. Napaepae of Lahaina, capsized in the Pailolo channel, swam all night and would have gone under had not an owl flapped its wings in his face and attracted his attention to land. A man escaping from the enemy in battle was saved from pursuit by an owl alighting at his hiding place. All these natural occurrences were interpreted as direct interventions of the owl as protector in danger.

Emerson thinks that owls were worshiped as a class and not as individual protectors. This may be generally true, but individual owl protectors are reported. Those who worshiped owls worshiped them under special names. At Pu‘u-pueo lived the owl king of Manoa and drove the Menehune from the valley. A famous Oahu owl story is that of the owl war carried on in behalf of a man named Kapoi who, having robbed an owl's nest, took pity on the lamenting parent and returned the eggs. He then took the owl as his god and built a heiau for its worship. The ruling chief Kakuhihewa, considering this an act of rebellion, ordered his execution but at the moment of carrying out the order the air was darkened by flying owls

p. 125

which had come to his protection. The places on Oahu where the owls made rendezvous for this battle are known today by the word pueo (owl) in their names, such as Kala-pueo east of Diamond Head, Kanoni-a-ka-pueo in Nu‘uanu valley, Pueo-hulu-nui near Moanalua. The scene of the battle at Waikiki is called Kukaeunahio-ka-pueo (Confused sound of owls rising in masses). 6

Next in importance to the shark aumakua and possibly of older arrival in Hawaii are the mo‘o, reptile forms of the lizard kind but of monstrous size, believed to inhabit inland fishponds. Says Kamakau:

The mo‘o that guarded these ponds were not the common gecko or skink; no, indeed! One can guess at their shape from these little creatures but this is not their real form. They had a terrifying body such as was often seen in old days; not commonly, but they were often visible when fires were lighted on altars close to their homes. Once seen, no one could preserve his skepticism. They lay in the water from two to five fathoms in length (twelve to thirty feet) and as black in color as the blackest negro. If given a drink of awa they would turn from side to side like the keel of a canoe in the water.

[paragraph continues] The goddess Kalamainu‘u (Ka-lani-mai-nu‘u, Kala-mai-mu) is the many-bodied mo‘o aumakua to whom bodies were dedicated to become mo‘o. Houses called puaniu were erected to her for deifying the dead.

Kiha-wahine is the most famous of these apotheosized human bodies. She was a chiefess on Maui and at death she was dedicated to become a mo‘o and became herself a goddess and was worshiped in the heiaus on Maui and Hawaii. Her image there, dressed in deep saffron yellow or light yellow or a patterned tapa cloth, was but a symbol, Kamakau is careful to explain, of the spirit of the goddess herself, which was known through her entering into a living person or through visible revelation in "one of her terrible forms." Kamehameha set up her image in the heiau. In her name he carried his conquest

p. 126

over the islands. He gave her the prostrating tapu; even those passing in canoes were obliged to observe this tapu. Ulumaheihei Hoapili of Maui, who later became an active friend of the missionaries and a leader in establishing the Christian church, was her keeper (kahu).

Appearances of Kiha-wahine are reported from various places on Maui. The old fishpond at Haneoo in Hana district is still thought of as her home. When there is foam on the pond she is at home and fish caught at this time will be bitter in taste. Modern ideas give her the form of a woman. A fin-like projection of rock near the center of the pond called Lauoho (combing) is where she sits to comb her hair. Kiha-wahine is also reported from the pool of Maulili in Waikomo stream in Koloa, Kauai. In the story of Puna-ai-koae she is the mo‘o woman who has a combat with Pele over the possession of the young chief as husband. 7

Mokuhinia is another mo‘o aumakua belonging to Maui whose appearances at various places on West Maui are related by Kamakau, one of these on the occasion of the death of a chief, and the most spectacular in 1838 when she showed herself to "hundreds of thousands" of people gathered at the pond of Mokuhinia. Lani-wahine is a mo‘o goddess of Ukoa pond, Waialua, on Oahu. She often appears in human form to foretell some terrible event. Kane-kuaana, once a living person whose body was worshiped to become a mo‘o, rules the land of Ewa between Halawa and Honouliuli and brings it prosperity. If fish were scarce her relatives would erect waihau altars and light fires and the waters would be filled with pearl oysters and fine fish. Hau-wahine is the mo‘o goddess of the ponds of Kawainui and Kaelepule in Koolau district on Oahu. She brings abundance of fish, punishes the owners of the pond if they oppress the poor, and wards off sickness. Walinu‘u and Wali-manoanoa are many-bodied ancestral mo‘o for whom pillars were set up in the heiau as memorials and who are worshiped as female deities upon whom depends

p. 127

the prosperity of the government. Waka (Waha) is another mo‘o goddess worshiped by female chiefs. She appears in romance as the guardian of Paliuli (Paliula) on Hawaii and of the young chief Kauakahiali‘i on Kauai. Mo‘o-inanea (Self-reliant mo‘o) is also represented in romance as first-born child of Kane-huna-moku in Kuaihelani and head of the mo‘o family in Kuaihelani before the emigration of the Ku and Hina family to Hawaii and the shutting up of the hidden island. She is the man-eating ancestress of Aukelenuiaiku in Kuaihelani. 8

The mo‘o deities thus far named are all female aumakua worshiped by chiefesses. Not all mo‘o are female and not all are friendly. There are many legends of contests with unfriendly mo‘o. Lani-loa is a mo‘o who used to kill passers-by below Laie until cut up into the five little islands seen today off the coast as Malualai, Keauakaluapaaa, Pulemoku, Mokuaaniwa, and Kihewamoku. 9 The mo‘o is one of the Pele family's terrible forms. Hi‘iaka's journey to Kauai to fetch Pele's lover is delayed by many contests with evil mo‘o gods. Pi‘i-ka-lalau is a mo‘o deity of Kauai who can take the form of a giant, a pigmy, or a mo‘o and who fights a terrible battle against the chief Kauakahi on behalf of his friend Keli‘ikoa. 10 The contest between Pele and the mo‘o goddess for their human lover has already been mentioned. The mo‘o, in fact, fights for the family of its keeper. A great mo‘o is guardian of Paliuli and defends the place from intruders in the Laieikawai story. The head and tail of the mo‘o guardian of Puna district on Hawaii are still shown, petrified into rock, one in the pool at Kalapana, the other in a clear pool called Punalua a half mile distant. Bathers must dive and touch the rock before attempting to swim there. Respect is felt for the little mo‘o who sun themselves on dry banks and on the walls of houses. A person should never crush a lizard's egg lest he fall over a precipice.

p. 128

Mo‘o worship has probably been brought to Hawaii. Mo‘o are gods of the royal Oropa‘a family of Tahiti. 11 A legend tells of a chief who is charmed by a mo‘o who later bears him a son exactly resembling himself. He disowns the boy and has the mother killed. The boy's descendants are living to this day. 12 In Tonga gods are regarded as formless but might become incarnate in certain forms. For example, the god Toufa might appear as a particular man (his priest), as a shark, or as a gecko. 13 In New Zealand the lizard is connected with sorcery. It is placed under a boundary stone to cause sickness. 14 There are myths of the killing of monster lizards called ngarara or taniwha. Such monsters in Samoa are said to inhabit deep chasms or pools in the river. 15

Most popular of all family guardians among a fishing people are shark aumakua. The manner of offering a corpse to become a shark is described in detail by Kamakau, together with the offerings required to pay the officiating kahuna and to feed the shark god; the ceremony at the offering; the appearance of the aumakua god or gods for its reception; and the gradual transformation of the body until the kahuna is able to point out to the awe-struck family the actual markings on the body of the shark singled out for worship, corresponding to the clothing in which the body of their beloved had been wrapped. Such a shark aumakua became the family pet. It was fed daily and was believed to drive food into the net, save the fisherman from death if his canoe capsized, and in other ways ward off danger. Like all these protecting guardians it had its evil uses as a fetcher to kill an enemy, but it must be remembered that this purpose was recognized as evil and that before Christianity came in and the skepticism of the whites refused to credit such superstition, the ruling chiefs came down with a heavy hand upon the practice of sorcery. On the whole the relation of a fisherman's family to its shark aumakua was a friendly and intimate one and the fact of the tangible presence of the pet robbed it of horror. There is scarcely a Hawaiian family of the old type

p. 129

who cannot claim today some such aumakua known by name to the whole community.

The ancestral shark gods to whom the bodies of the dead are dedicated are believed to have come from Kahiki and are worshiped as protectors of the whole district. They appear in other than shark form, as owls, hilu fish, mo‘o, or human beings, says Malo, and in such form associate with men or speak to them in vision. The most important of these ancestral sharks (mano kumupa‘a) named by him are Ku-hai-moana, Kane-huna-moku, Kau-huhu, Ka-moho-ali‘i, and Kane-i-kokala. Ku-hai-moana (Ku-hei-moana) is called "the largest and most celebrated of Hawaiian shark gods," thirty fathoms long, with a mouth as big as a grass house. He is king shark of the broad ocean, lives in deep water off Kaula islet, and is said to be a man-eater and husband of Ka-ahu-pahau, but in some tales the name is given to a female. Kane-huna-moku is the fish form taken by the ruler of the hidden island. Kauhuhu is the fierce king shark of Maui who lives in a cave in Kipahulu and also has a home guarded by mo‘o deities at the "Eel cave" (Ana-puhi) between Waikolo and Pelekunu on the windward side of Molokai. Kane-i-kokala is a kindly shark aumakua who saves people who are shipwrecked and brings them safe to shore. The kokala fish are sacred to him, and the folk of Kahiki-nui, which is peopled by his family, says Kamakau, fear to eat these fish or to touch any food that has come in contact with them or even to cross the smoke of an oven where they are cooking.

Most celebrated of these ancestral shark gods is Ka-moho-ali‘i, Pele's many-bodied brother and the shark god to whom all members of the Pele family offer corpses to become sharks. His home upon a cliff on the northern edge overlooking the crater is so sacred that even Pele dare not blow smoke across it, and the mo‘o goddess Kihawahine, when she had her celebrated tussle with Pele, feared to spew phlegm upon it. 16 When Ka-moho-ali‘i takes human form, he appears without his loincloth, a privilege, says Emerson, which marks the god! 17 In the story of Laukaieie, he and his shark people are

p. 130

living at Kahoolawe. 18 Kauhi, the cruel husband of Ka-hala-o-Puna, who kills his wife in his shark form, is represented as a member of Kamohoali‘i's family. 19 It seems fair to equate this shark deity with Ellis's Mo‘oari‘i to whom a heiau formerly stood on "almost every point of land projecting any distance into the sea" on the island of Molokai 20 and with Kalakaua's Moali‘i, "a celebrated sea god of Molokai in shark form" and "principal shark god of Molokai and Oahu," who is worshiped by the Molokai chief Kaupe‘epe‘e, and fresh wreaths placed on his huge image on Haupu overlooking the ocean when an expedition comes or goes by sea. 21 He may be identical with Kahoali‘i, the naked god of the Makahiki, to whom the eye of fish or man is dedicated in a cup of awa and whose possible relation with the Tahitian sorcery god Ti‘i has already been pointed out. Mrs. Pukui recalls in corroboration of this identification the lines of a chant in which the cliff summit above the crater of Kilauea, so sacred to Kamohoali‘i that smoke from the burning pit never touches it, is ascribed to Kahoali‘i:

Ka mahu a i luna o Wahinekapu,
Ua kapu aku la is Kahoali‘i.

"The smoke rises above [the place called] Sacred-woman,
The place sacred to Kahoali‘i."

[paragraph continues] It is on the whole as savior from sorcery that the shark aumakua is so universally worshiped in Hawaii. 22

Similar shark worship of individual family guardians, sometimes those inspired by human spirits, is recorded from Tahiti 23 and illustrated in the story of Taruia. 24 In Tonga, Seketoa turns into a shark because his elder brother is jealous of him and tries to kill him. He is the guardian spirit of a special family. When the priest summons Seketoa with

p. 131

kava, first appear his attendants in the shape of two small fish, then appears Seketoa, first in the body of a dog fish, then as a small shark, and so on, increasing in size until he appears in his full length as Seketoa. 25 Tui-tofua, who goes away and turns into a man-eating shark because he is accused of annoying his father's concubines, finally appears in a company of six sharks who keep the reef clear for their own people. 26 In Mangaia a warlike chief is clubbed to death by the priest for wearing the sacred red flowers in the tapu region of the gods, and his spirit enters into an eel which has drunk his blood. Thence it passes into a huge white shark worshiped by a priestly tribe who make for it an image of rosewood. 27 In Fiji, a shark guardian carries a man ashore. A pet hawk, eel, lizard, or fresh water prawn may also become a guardian of the living. 28 In the Lau islands, the shark god Mami takes both human and shark form. 29 In Aurora, a man makes an image of a shark out of basketwork and when he wants to eat men he gets into the image; a bird thereupon flies upon the roof as a sign to an old woman and she breaks a stick; the image then goes into the water. 30

The fullest reports come from San Cristoval. Here are reported the passing of the soul of the dead into the shark as its commonest incarnation; the transformation of a living person into a shark; and the "exchange of souls between man and shark," as Fox puts it, in which a shark becomes a man's familiar and acts for the man. A shark-man's power passes to his son, who is initiated at birth by the father crooking his arm like a shark's fin and putting the child under his arm. The child and his shark receive the same name. The two are so closely associated that if one dies the other dies. It is said that these are "sharks who have exchanged souls with living men." It is a process of adoption, and what injures one injures the other. 31

p. 132

Of traditional adventures with shark aumakua, Hawaiians tell many stories. Kamakau tells of a certain family descended from a shark, a member of which might be punished for breaking a tapu of the shark god by being "laid beside the shark in the sea for from two to four days close to the fin of the shark" and yet be brought up alive from this unpleasant experience. Unfortunately, the family of whom the story was told were all dead before Kamakau could secure corroboration of this remarkable event, but he saw the place where it happened and "my relatives of my parents' and grandparents' generation say that hundreds of people have seen them lying in the sea and returning to shore in a weakened condition after they had lain for as much as five days in the sea." It is further told (and the story compared with that of Jonah) that in the days of Kakaalaneo (or Eleio) of Maui, Kukuipahu of Hawaii was swallowed by a shark and lived inside its body many days and came ashore at Hana, Maui, with all his hair worn off, whereupon the daughter of the chief was bestowed upon him as a wife. He is said to have been saved because he was faithful in his offerings to the gods. 32

The following stories are, with a few exceptions, stories recently collected, many of them never before recorded, and told as actual occurrences. They could be indefinitely extended from the lips of intelligent Hawaiians living today.


It is related that a girl of thirteen years of age, living at Waikapuna, a long sandy beach directly below Naalehu, Kau, dreamed that a lover appeared to her out of the ocean. Every morning when she told her parents this dream her father thought she had allowed some one liberties and wanted to conceal it, so he kept her carefully guarded. The dreams however continued. After a time the girl gave birth to a shark. Her parents recognized this as the offspring of an akua mano (shark god) called Ke-‘lii-kaua-o-Kau, a cousin of Pele, and did not hold the girl responsible.

The young mother took the baby, wrapped it in green pakaiea

p. 133

[paragraph continues] (a coarse seaweed) and cast it into the sea. The young shark was always recognizable by its green coat, and became the aumakua of that particular family. From that time they were careful not to partake of either shark flesh or pakaiea moss. Swelling of the abdomen would have followed the breaking of the shark tapu; incurable sores attacking the mouth, the breaking of the seamoss tapu.

As the shark never ate human flesh, it was a favorite in the neighborhood. One day a stranger, Kahikina by name, went out fishing and was attacked by two sharks. When he cried out for help he saw a small green shark coming toward him with great speed, which quickly attacked the man-eaters, slashing them with its tail until they fled. It then slipped under the canoe and carried it safely to the shore. So grateful was Kahikina that he returned next day with a huge awa root as offering and he also cleaned from the shark's back the barnacles and pebbles which had accumulated there. Ever after that the shark and the man became great friends. The shark would chase schools of fish toward the shore and all that the man caught he would divide between them.

Opuopele, brother of Kahikina, lived at Paula beach, Kau, and loved to go fishing. One day he had just thrown a stick of giant powder into Kawa-nui cove and dived off the cliff to gather the spoils when he found himself confronted by a shark on one side and a turtle on the other. Undismayed, he began to talk to the shark, saying, "There is your share, here is mine," at the same time offering the shark a fish and bagging one for himself. In this way the shark was pacified, and the old man returned to the shore with a gunny-sack half-filled with fish. When the wife was asked about this strange occurrence she answered that the shark always appeared when her husband went fishing and that he always shared the catch. She did not claim the shark as an aumakua but there was probably this deeper significance in the explanation.


A policeman in Lahaina was sent to Molokai to deliver some government money. He went in a whaleboat accompanied by his wife. In the middle of the channel between the islands of Molokai and Maui a storm came up which overturned the boat. They

p. 134

tried to cling to its sides but the rough waves drove the boat from them. The man prayed thus: "If I have any aumakua in this ocean I pray you to carry me and my wife to the land." The woman saw something red in the water and the next moment saw that her husband was holding on to the tail of a shark which had appeared to rescue them. The fish swam through the rough waves and brought them safe to shore. [In one such rescue the shark "fanned the waters" to keep the swimmer from getting chilled, and gently pushed him along to safety. The idea is that the shark belongs to the volcano deities and hence has control over heat.] 33


A man and his wife live near the sea at Keanae; his sister and her husband live in the woodland at Kau-palahalaha. Every day the man goes out fishing, bidding his wife give fish to his sister when she comes from her upland garden with vegetable food for the family. The man's wife is stingy and gives her sister-in-law only the tail end of a fish. This the woman in disgust drops into a calabash. One night both husband and wife have a dream and, rising, they find a live shark in the calabash. For many years they keep it in a pool [which may be seen today at this place] and make food offerings to it. Once, during high water, it is washed down to the sea. It now lives in the hole called Lua-hi‘u (Hole of the tail) which may be seen near Mrs. Hardy's house and which extends underground half a mile and comes out near the Keanae wharf. 34


At the bay of Pukoo on Molokai lived the kahuna Kamalo who had the terrible Kauhuhu as his shark god. Kamalo's two sons are killed by order of the chief Kupa for playing upon the sacred temple drum (pahu kaeke) at the heiau of Iliili-o-pae. Kamalo seeks revenge. With a black pig as a gift he seeks first the famous seer Lanikaula, then Kaneakama, then Kahiwakaapu‘u, and finally comes to the cave between Waikolu and Pelekunu where lives Kauhuhu guarded by Waka and Mo‘o. Kauhuhu comes in on the eighth wave and listens to his petition. Some months later the storm called Wai-o-koloa descends upon

p. 135

[paragraph continues] Mapulehu valley, its coming heralded by a rainbow spanning the valley, and all the inhabitants are swept into the sea and devoured by sharks. Kamalo's household alone escapes because of the sacred fence he has built and provisions stored at Kauhuhu's direction. 35


Na-pua-o-Paula, a pretty girl on Hawaii, arouses the jealousy of a neighboring family. They give offerings to their shark aumakua to destroy her and she is carried away by a wave and devoured by a shark. Her mother goes to a sorcerer. A child is born who resembles the dead girl and is given her name. The other family are afflicted with swellings and die miserably. 36


Women were supposed to be visited in dream by aumakua spirits who wished to have a child by them. The dreams would continue until the birth of the first child, and to this child the father would give a name (in dream). Such children were often born in the shape into which the father could change himself--shark, owl, caterpillar, stone--but they were more human than godlike in nature. Folktales tell how alliances with lovers of double nature were avoided. Some of these resemble the famous South Sea story of Hina and Tuna, the eel from whose head sprung the first coconut.


Kumu-hea (or Mo‘o), son of the god Ku, lives in the hill Pu‘uenuhe at Hi‘ilea in Kau district and is the god (aumakua) of the cutworm. He marries a girl, but comes to her only at night, for by day he is a worm (or mo‘o). He does not support her. With the advice of her parents she ties a hemp string to his back and when he leaves her she follows him to the hill and discovers his true nature. He is angry. Cutworms attack the crop. The parents appeal to Kane, who cuts up the god; and hence the small peelua cutworms (or lizards) of today, which Hawaiians fear to injure. 37

p. 136

Puhi-nalo is the eel lover of a girl of Waianae on Oahu. Her brothers discover that he is an eel-man, fight him, and hurl his body against the cliff, where it is to be seen today. 38


Puhi and Loli (Eel and Sea-cucumber) turn into handsome men and court two girls. Their father watches the two men turn into fish again, catches them in a net, cooks them, and serves them up to the two girls. The girls vomit, one a tiny eel and the other a sea-cucumber, which the father burns to ashes. These are the children they would have had by the two lovers. 39


Animal forms associated with the many-bodied Pele family are the mo‘o, the brindled dog, the oopu fish. A brown-haired woman (ehu) belongs to the Pele family and may be Pele herself or one of her spirit followers in human form. Brindled dogs are called ilio mo‘o to this day. The fresh-water oopu fish (Eleotris fusca) looks something like a mo‘o and hence should not be eaten by any family who have a mo‘o aumakua. Molokai and West Maui people fear to eat it. The okuhekuhe or owau variety of the goby fish (oopu) is one of the forms of the god Kane-lau-apua, according to Emerson. In Tahiti, goby fish are thought to be possessed by the spirits of premature births. 40 The following stories are told of the double nature of the goby fish. Many similar tales teach a wholesome respect for those potential favorites of deity whose gods resent cruelty or greed in their treatment.


A man of Molokai catches a dish of oopu of the o-kuhekuhe or o-wau variety. He bundles the fish up in ti leaves and lays them on the fire to broil. A voice speaks from the bundle and he flees in fright. 41


Ka-hinano (Pandanus blossom) catches a dish of goby fish, cleans and salts them, then goes after material for mat weaving.

p. 137

[paragraph continues] A brown-haired woman comes to the house, calls to the fish, and replaces them alive in the creek. 42


(a) Pae is the name of a brindled dog that used to come from the Koolau hills on Oahu to the villages at the sea. The chief's servants one day catch the dog and are carrying her away to bake for a feast when a brown-haired (ehu) woman appears and calls the dog to her. The tying strings drop off, and woman and dog disappear in a pool. 43


(b) A spirit dog of kindly nature named Pae lives on Hawaii. She is once playing about in her dog body when an old couple catch and fatten her for a feast. A brindled dog comes to her aid at the last moment. They kill the old people and make their way to Oahu, where they live in the Nuuanu valley and Pae becomes "the dog of Koolau." 44


A turtle kupua named Ka-wai-malino is picked up and brought home by an old couple. The children play with it and poke out an eye. The mother has a dream in which a beautiful woman with one eye inflamed begs her to take the turtle back to its home in the Wailuku river in Hilo, Hawaii. 45


Manoanoa, a woman of Molokai, eats squid eagerly. Once when she has cut up a squid and placed the tentacles on a tree to dry she hears a voice say, "Eat the tentacles but spare the head!" and the squid jumps into the spring and disappears. 46


Puni-he‘e (Squid lover) has an inordinate fondness for squid. A neighbor warns him to beware lest the gods be angry. One day the squid comes to life in the pot and hangs itself over the door, and Puni-he‘e flees in terror. 47


Kumu-hana, a bird hunter, recklessly slaughters the plover (kolea) even when he does not need them to eat. His neighbor, who worships the plover god Kumu-kahi and has been made ill

p. 138

by contact with the smoke from Kumu-hana's oven, warns him against this sacrilege. Kumu-hana disregards the warning and is overwhelmed by a flock of plover, who enter his house and peck and scratch him to death. The place where he lived is called Ai-a-kolea to this day. 48


Kilauname, a cultivator of Kau district, lives at a place called Waha-mo‘o (Mo‘o's mouth) between Naalehu and Waiohinu. Here he and his friend Mauna-kele-awa plant potatoes. When caterpillars attack the vines, instead of gathering them carefully into baskets and carrying them away as his friend does, he recklessly kills them. In revenge caterpillars overrun his vines and the man himself and eat him up alive. 49


In Fiji a man named Kowika, a Soso of the fisher class from Mbau, ventures to the cave where Ratu-mai-Mbulu (Lord of Hades) is fed and shoots the god when he appears in snake form. As a result, until he does penance he is haunted by snakes. Snakes flow from the bamboo where he drinks and his sleeping mat is alive with them. 50


Hawaiians delight to tell tales of the travels, wars, and ad-ventures of famous shark gods, those friendly to man pitted against the man-eaters. Turner, hearing similar tales of shark wars in Samoa, was himself disposed to interpret them symbolically of human contests, but found that the natives took them literally, as they do, no doubt, in Hawaii. 51

The famous shark goddess Kaahu-pahau and her brother (or son) Ka-hi‘u-ka (The smiting tail), who lived in a cave at the entrance to Pearl Harbor and guarded Oahu waters against man-eating sharks, were reputed to have been born of human parentage, she as a girl with light hair, and to have changed into sharks. They were friendly to man and were fed as pets by the Ewa people whose district they guarded, and their backs scraped clean of barnacles by their keepers. When the new dry dock collapsed at Pearl Harbor about 1914 the supposition was that the shark guardians of the basin were

p. 139

still active. Miss Green writes: "Today a floating dock is employed. Engineers say that there seem to be tremors of the earth at this point which prevent any structure from resting upon the bottom, but Hawaiians believe that ‘The Smiting Tail' still guards the blue lagoon at Pearl harbor." Kaahupahau is called by Kamakau the sister of the sharks Kanehuna-moku and Ka-moho-ali‘i and wife of Ku-hai-moana, father of Ku-pi‘opi‘o. The story that she is herself killed in the shark war against man-eaters is repudiated by Oahu Hawaiians, as also the accusation made by Kamakau that it was she herself who devoured the chiefess Papio because she was saucy to the keeper who reproached her for going swimming at the lagoon wearing the ilima wreaths which were sacred to the shark goddess. Kaahu-pahau was no man-eater.


The shark Ke-ali‘i-kaua-o-Kau (The war chief of Kau) is born at Ninole, Kau, where his last keeper died in 1878. With four companions he travels about the islands waging war against man-eaters. The man-eater Mikololou joins the party, is caught in the net of Kaahu-pahau at Pu‘uloa and dragged up on the beach, and escapes death only by his tongue being swallowed by a dog, which then jumps into the sea and the tongue becomes Mikololou again. "Mikololou lived by his tongue" (I ola o Mikololou i ka alelo) is the saying, to imply that there is a way of escape out of every difficulty.


Ka-ehu-iki-mano-o-Pu‘uloa (The little brown shark of Pearl harbor) is born at Panau in Puna, Hawaii, and named after the red hair of the shark goddess Kaahu-pahau. For ten days his father Kapukapu feeds him on awa and his mother Holei on her milk. He is then put into the sea while his parents return to the uplands. He puts out to sea and pays a visit to each of the king sharks of Hawaii in turn, all of whom he wins by his deference. Ke-pani-la of Hilo, Kane-ilehia of Kau, Kua of Kona, Manokini of Kohala, Kupu-lena of Hamakua join him on his projected tour to Kaula and thence to Kahiki and return. The

p. 140

fierce king shark of Maui, who assumes a threatening attitude, is slain by the little shark entering his wide-opened mouth and devouring his inwards. Ka-moho-ali‘i, overgrown with sea moss, meets them kindly and consents to adopt the little red-haired shark. An elaborate ceremony takes place which gives Ka-ehu power to change into a hundred forms. The party visit Molokai and Oahu, where the adventure with Mikololou takes place and Kaahu-pahau gives them a token which will pass them safely by Ku-hai-moana, king shark of Kauai and Ni‘ihau. After a round of the South Sea islands, of which the Marquesas, Tahiti, and the Dutch Indies are mentioned, and a bath in the Yellow river of Kahiki [can this be an allusion to the Chinese river of death?] they return home and, as they arrive off Waikiki, encounter the man-eater Pehu on the watch for "crabs" and lure him inshore, where the natives put him to death. Arrived at Puna, the young hero is welcomed by his upland parents with appropriate feasting. 52


Many local legends are told of shark-men, always to be known by the mark of a shark's mouth upon the back, who can change form from man to shark and who for a long time go undetected until it is noticed that an apparently disinterested warning to swimmers is always followed by a fatal attack by a man-eating shark. Thus Kawelo (Kawelo-mahamahaia) of Kauai; Pau-walu of Wailua, Maui; Nenewe of Waipio on Hawaii; Kaai-po‘o of Kapaahu in Puna, Hawaii; another unnamed at Kawai-uhu in Kaalualu, Ka-u district, of Hawaii; Mano-niho-kahi at Laie, Oahu; 53 Kamaikaahui of Maui.


Kamaikaahui lives at Muolea in Hana district of Maui. He was born in the form of a rat, then became a bunch of bananas, then a man with a shark's mouth at his back, over which he always wears a cloth to conceal the mark. He is a man on land and a shark in the sea. He farms by the highway and when

p. 141

eople pass, going down to the sea, he warns them against sharks. Then he runs ahead of them by a back way and devours them. At last he is suspected. Seeing people on the shore ready to attack him, he leaves his clothes at a place called Kau-halahala and swims to Waipahu in Waikele on Oahu and becomes ruling chief of Ewa district, where he terrorizes the country until slain by Palila. 54


Kawelo is a shark-man living on Kauai in the region of Mana. He has a shark mouth on his back, a tail and appendages on the lower part of his body. He can take the form, besides that of a shark, of a worm, a moth, a caterpillar, a butterfly, and thus escape an enemy. Two rocks shaped like grass houses, one under water in the Wailua river, the other a little below the cave of Mamaaku-a-Lono, represent his two houses as a shark and as a man. As a shark-man he lived between Kealia and Wailua and would eat up the children who ventured to swim out between those two places. Finally he was discovered and a long line of men formed who stoned him to death. He is identified with the famous chief Kawelomahamahaia (Kawelo with fins like a fish), grandfather of Kawelo and descended from Mano-kalani-po, who was believed to become a shark god (akua mano) at death. 55


Pau-walu (Eight dead) lives at Wailua, Maui. He warns men as they go to the sea that eight will be dead before they return and a shark always kills eight of them as predicted. He is therefore suspected as a shark-man. Akeake the strong is born beside the stream Hau-ola and while yet a little boy starts about Maui fighting champions. After overcoming Lohelohe, he, with his companion Pakolea, spends the night at a friend's house named Ohia and learns about Pauwalu. The shark-man scoffs at so little an antagonist, but Akeake easily binds him, exposes the shark's mouth on his back, and casts him into the fire. 56

p. 142

Nenewe lives on Hawaii "beside the large basin at the bottom of the waterfall on the west side of Waipio valley." As men go to the sea to bathe at Muli-wai he warns them of the shark that may eat them and, as one man is always lost at such times, the people begin to suspect him. They catch him, pull off the cape which he always wears, and expose the shark's mouth on his back. 57


Nanaue is the shark-man of Waipio in the time of Umi, child of Ka-moho-ali‘i and Kalei. His maternal grandfather feeds him meat, hoping to make a warrior of him, and he develops a taste for human flesh. When detected at Waipio he turns into a shark and swims to Hana, where he marries the sister of a petty chief. At Molokai he lives at Poniu-o-Hua. When he is at last discovered the young demigod Unauna is employed to put him to death and the marks of the struggle are to be seen on the Kainalu hillslope and on a grooved rock called Pu‘u-mano about which the ropes were wound which held the net with which he was caught. The shark god punishes the desecration of a bamboo grove on this occasion by taking away the cutting qualities of the bamboo from this particular grove of bamboo unto this day. 58


Mano-niho-kahi (Shark with one tooth) lives near the water hole in Malae-kahana between Laie and Kahuku. When he sees a woman going to the sea to gather fish or limu he warns her against sharks, then comes himself and kills her. The chief lines up all the men and detects the shark-man by the mark of the shark's mouth on his back when the tapa garment which he wears is dragged off. 59


A similar story collected in Pukapuka runs as follows:

A man-eater, an atua-pule, lives in a hole. When two or more go by to fish he stays inside; when only one, he comes outside and kills him and drags him into his hole to eat. Two men steal

p. 143

upon him, entice him outside while they hide, and attack him together. He almost drags them in, but (in one version) a woman calls out to them to "brace the foot" or (in another version) to "lift it high" and they are able to save themselves. The atua slips away to the sea and goes to Samoa, leaving Pukapuka in peace. 60


Among the Rarotongans a child whose father is Moe-tarauri, an ancestor of Iro, bears on his back a birthmark in the form of a centipede which is seen to writhe when the child is angry. 61



122:1 HHS Papers 2: 20-21.

123:2 Thrum, More Tales, 259-260; For. Pol. Race 1: 184; Kalakaua, 50.

123:3 For. Col. 4: 470-477.

124:4 For. Col. 5: 572-577.

124:5 Ibid. 6: 300.

125:6 Kamakau, Ke Au Okoa, May 5, 1870; Westervelt, Honolulu, 131-137; Thrum, Tales, 200-201; HAA 1909, 45-46.

126:7 Kamakau, Ke Au Okoa, April 28, May 5, 1870; Malo, 114, 155; Kepelino, 18; HAA 1907, 92; Westervelt, Gods and Ghosts, 152-162; Thrum, More Tales, 185-196.

127:8 Kamakau, loc. cit.; Malo, loc. cit.; Haleole; Westervelt, Gods and Ghosts, 116, 122; HAA 1916, 143; Dickey, HHS Reports 25: 26-28; For. Col. 4: 38-43.

127:9 Rice, 112.

127:10 HHS Reports 25: 27-28.

128:11 Henry, 383.

128:12 Ibid. 622-623.

128:13 Gifford, Bul. 61: 288.

128:14 Handy, Bul. 34: 180.

128:15 JPS 2: 211-215.

129:16 Westervelt, Gods and Ghosts, 157.

129:17 HHS Papers 2: 10.

130:18 Westervelt, Gods and Ghosts, 44-46.

130:19 Ibid., 85.

130:20 Tour, 67.

130:21 49, 77.

130:22 Kamakau, Ke Au Okoa, April 7-21, May 5, 1870; Thrum, More Tales, 288-292; J. Emerson, HHS Papers 2: 8-12.

130:23 Henry, 389-390.

130:24 Ibid., 624, 630-631.

131:25 Gifford, Bul. 8: 83-84; Collocott, Bul. 46: 56-58; JPS 24: 116-117.

131:26 Gifford, Bul. 8: 77-82.

131:27 Gill, 29-30, 288.

131:28 Thomson, 115-116.

131:29 Hocart, 211-212.

131:30 Codrington, 407-408.

131:31 Fox, 110-111, 115-116, 132-133; Codrington, 259.

132:32 For. Col. 5: 660.

134:33 Given to Miss Green by Mrs. Annie Aiona, 1923.

134:34 Given by Mrs. Hardy of Keanae, East Maui, 1930.

135:35 Thrum, Tales, 186-192; Westervelt, Honolulu, 193.

135:36 Green and Pukui, 154-157.

135:37 Green, 43; J. Emerson, HHS Papers 2: 12; Rice, 110.

136:38 McAllister, Bul. 104: 117-119.

136:39 Green and Pukui, 170-173.

136:40 Henry, 390.

136:41 Green and Pukui, 176-177; N. Emerson, Pele, 194 note c.

137:42 Green, 111-112.

137:43 Ibid., 48-49.

137:44 Green and Pukui, 178.

137:45 Pukui MS.

137:46 Green and Pukui, 175.

137:47 Green, 46-47.

138:48 Green, 108-110.

138:49 Ibid., 44-45.

138:50 Thomson, 114-115.

138:51 214.

140:52 Thrum, More Tales, 293-308; Green, 102-107.

140:53 J. Emerson, AA 19: 508-510; Dickey, HHS Reports 25: 29.

141:54 For. Col. 5: 140-144, 372-374.

141:55 Dickey, HHS Reports 25: 33; N. Emerson, "Hula," 79 note f; Westervelt, Honolulu, 173.

141:56 Pukui MS.

142:57 J. Emerson, AA 19 (1917): 509.

142:58 Thrum, Tales, 255-268; Westervelt, Gods and Ghosts, 59-65.

142:59 Rice, 111; J. Emerson, AA 19: 510.

143:60 Beaglehole MS.

143:61 JPS 25: 146.

Next: X. The Soul After Death