'Ewa is the SW district of O'ahu, the lands surrounding the estuary of Pu'uloa (Pearl Harbor), from Halawa in the East to Honouliuli in the West. "'Ewa" means "crooked" or "unequal." The lands around Pu'uloa are watered by streams running down from the Ko'olau Mountains, while the western plains, where homeless spirits without family or friends wandered, are dry. The estuary of Pu'uloa was noted for its abundance of seafood and for its guardian shark goddess Ka'ahupahau, its fish goddess Kaihuopala'ai, and its mo'o (water lizard) goddess Kanekua'ana, who brought,then took away, the oysters from which Pearl Harbor got its name.
The guardian sharks of Pu'uloa were Ka'ahupahau and her brother Kahi'uka. Such guardian sharks, which inhabited the coastlines of all the islands, were benevelont gods who were cared for and worshiped by the people and who aided fishermen, protected the life of the seas, and drove off man-eating sharks. Ka'ahupahau may mean "Well-cared for Feather Cloak" (the feather cloak was a symbol of royalty). Kahi'uka means "Smiting Tail"; his shark tail was used to strike at enemy sharks; he also used his tail to strike fishermen as a warning that unfriendly sharks had entered Pu'uloa. Ka'ahupahau lived in an underwater cave in Honouliuli lagoon (West Loch). Kahi'uka lived in an underwater cave off Moku'ume'ume (Ford Island) near Keanapua'a Point at the entrance of East Loch; he also had the form of an underwater stone. (Sterling and Summers 54, 56).The following story by Pa'ahana Wiggin, published in 1926 (Pukui and Green), tells of Ka'ahupahau's defense of her waters against Mikololou, a man-eating shark from the Big Island:
Mikololou was a shark from Ka'u district on the island of Hawai'i (a). One day he and his shark friends, Kua, Keli'ikaua o Ka'u, Pakaiea, and Kalani, set out on a visit to O'ahu. On the way they fell in with other sharks all going in the same direction.
Arriving at Pu'uloa ("Long-Hill," Pearl Harbor), they encountered Ka'ahupahau, the female shark who guarded the entrance of Pearl Harbor. She had another body in the form of a net extremely difficult to tear, with which she captured all alien sharks who entered her harbor. Her brother Kahi'uka, "The-smiting-tail," struck at intruders with his tail, one side of which was larger than the other and very sharp (b). These two with their followers were not man-eating sharks and the people on land guarded them well, bringing them food and scraping their backs free of the barnacles that attached themselves there (c).
When the visitors arrived, one of them remarked, "Ah! what delicious-looking crabs you have here!" Now man-eating sharks speak of men as "crabs," and Ka'ahupahau knew at once that some of the strangers were man-eaters. But she could not distinguish between the good and the bad sharks, hence she changed into the form of a great net and hemmed in her visitors while the fishermen who answered her signal came to destroy them (d).
Keli'ikaua o Ka'u changed himself into a pao'o (a fish capable of leaping from one shoreline pool to another) and leaped out of the net. Kua changed into a lupe, or spotted sting-ray, and, weighing down the net on one side, helped his son Kalani and his nephew Pakaiea, who were half-human, to escape. But before anything more could be done, the fishermen hauled in the nets to shore and poor Mikololou was cast upon the shore with the evil doers, where they were left to die of the intense heat.
All were soon dead but Mikololou; though his body died his head lived on and as the fishermen passed to and from their work, his eyes followed them and tears rolled down his face. At last his tongue fell out. Some children playing nearby found it. They picked it up and cast it into the sea.
Now Mikololou's spirit had passed out of his head into his tongue and as soon as he felt the water again he became a whole shark (e). With a triumphant flop of his tail, he headed for home to join his friends again. When Ka'ahupahau saw him, it was too late to prevent his departure.
"Mikololou lived through his tongue," or, as the Hawaiians say, "I ola o Mikololou i ka alelo." This saying implies that however much trouble one may have, there is always a way of escape.
Ka'ahupahau no longer lives at Pu'uloa, coming and going with her twin sons Kupipi and Kumaninini. But when the United States government built a dry-dock for the navy just over the old home of Ka'ahupahau, the natives regarded the proceedings with superstitious fear. Scarcely was it completed after years of labor when the structure fell with a crash (f). 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.
"Mikololou" was published in Folk Tales from Hawaii in 1926 (reprinted in 1995; see Pukui and Green 102-104). Some of the notes that follow are by the editor of the original publication Martha W. Beckwith, indicated by her initials MWB in brackets. For another version of this story by E. Lahilahi Webb, see Thrum's More Hawaiian Folk Tales (307-8).
(b) In Papers of the Hawaiian Historical Society, No. 2, page 10, Mr. Joseph Emerson gives a pleasant picture of "Ka'ahupahau and her brother Kahi'uka, the two famous shark-gods of the 'Ewa lagoon on this island. Their birth and childhood differed in no essential features from that of other Hawaiian children up to the time when, leaving the home of their parents, they wandered away one day and mysteriously disappeared. After a fruitless search, their parents were informed that they had been transformed into sharks. As such, they became the special object of worship for the people of the districts of 'Ewa and Wai'anae, with whom they maintained the pleasantest relations, and were henceforth regarded as their friends and benefactors." In Emerson's story, Mikololou is represented as a man-eater. He is lured up the Waipahu river and fed with 'awa until he can be easily snared in nets and dragged up on shore, whence he escapes. Ka'ahupahau had supposedly passed away when Emerson wrote (in 1892), but Kahi'uka still lived in the old cave by the sea. His last keeper, Kimona, sometimes found his fish-nets missing and knew that Kahi'uka had carried them upshore to a place of safety [MWB].
Kamakau says that Ka'ahupahau was an ancestral shark god, not a human who became a shark; she was a sister of Kamohoali'i (Ka Po'e 75).
Papio was a beauty who loved to surf at Keahi, an area to the west of the entrance channel into Pu'uloa on the south shore of O'ahu. One day when she was going surfing, she happened to see Koihala, an elderly relative of Ka'ahupahau, making lei of kou (orange, tubular flowers), 'ilima, and ma'o (yellow flowers and green fruits). Koihala was going to feed her shark grandchildren Ka'ahupahau and Kahi'uka and give them the lei, so she was shocked at the rudeness of Papio's request and refused it and scolded her. Papio, a chiefess, threatened to burn the old woman to death and took a lei without permission when she returned from surfing. Papio then swam across the channel to a favorite bathing stone. As she washed her long hair in the water, Ka'ahupahau came and swallowed her head first and swam, with Papio's thighs sticking out of her mouth, to Puhi-laka Point, where she spewed out Papio's blood, turning the earth red.
Ka'ahupahau felt remorse over having killed Papio and established the law that no shark shall kill a human being in her waters. She also forbid those crossing her waters to wear lei, as her anger against Papio was caused by Papio's rude request for Koihala's lei. Kamakau notes that the law "that no shark must bite or attempt to eat a person in O'ahu waters" was firmly established in ancient times. "Only in recent times have sharks been known to bite people in O'ahu waters or to have devoured them" (73).
The high regard for human life embodied in this kapu banning man-eating among sharks is paralleled on land by kapu against cannibalism and human sacrifice on O'ahu. (See "Hanaaumoe" and "O'ahunui" in this collection.)
Ka'ahupahau was hospitable to sharks that were not man-eaters. A pleasant visit by a group of friendly sharks led by Ka'ehuikimano is described in "Ka'ehuikimanoopu'uloa," a translation published in Thrum's More Hawaiian Folk Tales (293-306) from an article that appeared in the newspaper Au Okoa, Nov. 24, 1870:
Pu'uloa, O'ahu, was the next destination. Reaching its entrance the party visited the pit of Komoawa, [or Kamoawa], a large shark who was Ka'ahupahau's watcher. [This cave, called Keaali'i, was at the entrance of Pu'uloa (Sterling and Summers 56).] Here the young shark introduced himself and announced the purpose of the journey, and his desire to meet the famous queen-shark, protector of O'ahu's waters. The watcher set off to give the message to the queen-shark then at Waiawa. He described the party of visitors as distinguished chiefs-five full-grown and one quite youthful. The queen-shark said: "That young shark can be none other than the child of Kapukapu and Holei." She sent greetings with the messenger, who was told to entertain the visitors in the outer cave, then to bring them up the lochs to meet the queen on the following day.
The next day the group from Hawai'i was conducted to the headquarters of Ka'ahupahau by a circuitous course, the guard of each place en route joining the procession until everyone reached Honouliuli, the royal residence. The group was led by Honuiki, the queen's body-guard. Ka'ahupahau was attended by her generals and staff. The strangers were all introduced to and made welcome by her, and after an agreeable reception, the guests were invited to join in a bathing party to the waters of Waipahu, the bathing place of the Waikele section, and also to the waters of Waimano, Waiau, etc. [The spring of Waipahu, "Exploding-waters," was located inland, a short ways up Kapakai Stream.] The strangers greatly enjoyed the bathing and praised the queen's refreshing provinces. The company then repaired to the royal cave at Honouliuli, where the visitors were supplied with soft coconut and 'awa.
During their stay, Kepanila, the king-shark of Hilo introduced the queen to the royal pastimes of hula and the games of kilu and pu'ili, with chants and songs known on Hawai'i from ancient time.
(d). In Webb's version (Thrum More Hawaiian Folk Tales), the nets are spread by the fishermen. The sharks tear through four nets, but the fifth is too strong for them. The number of nets probably corresponds to the ritual number five in the worship of the god Ku [MWB]. In her notes, Beckwith refers the reader to the old Hawaiian saying, "Alahula o Pu'uloa, he alahele na Ka'ahupahau," and interprets the saying as comparing the waving motion of a shark's tail to the love dance of the ala-hula and the snares of a siren to those by which the great shark entrapped unwary visitors.
Mary Kawena Pukui gives a different interpretation of the saying in 'Olelo No'eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings, No. 105: "Alahula o Pu'uloa, he alahele na Ka'ahupahau": "Everywhere in Pu'uloa is the trail of Ka'ahupahau. Said of a person who goes everywhere, looking, peering, seeing all, or of a person familiar with every nook and corner of a place." Ka'ahupahau was noted for traveling about, vigilantly guarding her domain against man-eating invaders.
(e) In Webb's version Thrum More Hawaiian Folktales (308), a dog swallows the tongue. A little later the dog jumps into the sea for a swim and is transformed into the shark Mikololou [MWB]. As Mikololou returns home to Hawai'i, other sharks teased him for returning home with only his tongue (308).
(f) This incident happened about 1914. The government bore the cost of the failure and no blame was attached to the company who built the dock, but whether the old shark gods entered into the case I have never heard reported [MWB].
Kaihuopala'ai in Pu'uloa is the original name of West Loch, Pearl Harbor, a spawning ground for the famous 'anae-holo, the running mullet of O'ahu. According to this tradition, in October-November, shoals of mullet swam from Pu'uloa to La'ie and Malaekahana, on the opposite side of the island, stopping at Kumumanu, Kalihi, Kou (Honolulu Harbor), Kalia (Ala Wai), Waikiki, Ka'alawai (Diamond Head) and onward around Makapu'u and up the windward coast. In March-April, the mullet returned along the same route to Kaihuopala'ai.
Kaihuopala'ai is a fish goddess--the sister of Maikoha, the god who turned into the first wauke plant, used in making kapa (tree bark cloth). Kaihuku'una, their sister, married Laniloa, a land jutting into the sea at La'ie. These three deities were children of Hina'aimalama, a goddess of the undersea land of Kahikihonuakele, and Konikonia, an ali'i of an island called Kawaluna ("the space above"). "Hina'aimalama" means "Hina feeding on the moon," a name which suggests the waning moon. Hina'aimalama was said to have "turned the moon into food and the stars into fish" (Fornander, Vol. V 266). The children of Hina'aimalama and Konikonia, nature gods associated with fertility, were the sons Kane'aukai, Kanehulikoa, Kanemilohai Kane'apua, and Maikoha; and the daughters Kaihuko'a, Ihuanu, Kaihukoko, Kaihuku'una, Kaihuopala'ai. The story of Maikoha, Kaihuko'a, Kaihukoko, Kaihuku'una, Kaihuopala'ai follows: (a)
Maikoha was a very brave and fearless young man. He broke the sacred posts (na pahu kapu), the sacred towers (na 'anu'u), the sacred sticks (na pulo'ulo'u) and all the other sacred things (na mea kapu). His father, Konikonia, became very angry, but he wasn't sure who had committed these unholy acts. He pondered deeply about how to discover the guilty one. After several days, he decided on a test: he got two long poles and tied one of them on the backs of the necks of his ten children and the other under their chins; the one who did not weep would be guilty and would have to be banished. Only Maikoha didn't weep. This satisfied the father that Maikoha was guilty, so Maikoha was exiled.
Maikoha left Kawaluna and landed at Kaupo, Maui, where he made his home. Here he changed into the first wauke plant. Because Maikoha's body was very hairy the wauke plant is also very hairy.(b)
Maikoha's sisters Kaihuopala'ai, Kaihuko'a,Ihukoko, and Kaihuku'una came in search of him. They traveled to Kaupo, and found him already changed into the wauke plant; they searched for his umibilical cord (piko). First, they looked in the branches from the top to the bottom of the plant, but they were unable to find the piko; so they dug into the ground, and there they found it there, where Maikoha had hidden it. Shortly after this the sisters left Maikoha in Kaupo, and continued on to O'ahu.
On O'ahu, Kaihuopala'ai met a goodly man named Kapapaapuhi ("The eel flats"), who was living at Honouliuli, 'Ewa; she fell in love with him and they were united, so Kaihuopala'ai has remained in 'Ewa to this day. She was changed into that fish pond near Kapapaapuhi, in which 'anae (mullet) are kept and fattened.
After Kaihuopala'ai decided to stay in 'Ewa, her sisters proceeded on to Wai'anae, where Kaihuko'a decided to make her home. She was married to Ka'ena, a very handsome chief of Wai'anae. She changed into that fishing ground directly out from the Ka'ena Point, and the fish that came with her were the ulua (crevalle), the kahala (amberjack), and the mahimahi.
After Kaihuko'a decided to stay in Wai'anae, the remaining two sisters continued on to Waialua, where Ihukoko met Kawailoa. Kawailoa was single and fell in love with her; the two became husband and wife. Ihukoko remained here, and the fish that accompanied her from their home was the aholehole. (c)
After Ihukoko decided to remain in Waialua, the last sister, Kaihuku'una, continued on to La'ie where she met Laniloa, a goodly man, and they lived together as husband and wife. The fish that came with her was the 'anae (mullet) and it remains abundant there to this day. (d)
After the sisters were all married and had been living with their husbands on O'ahu for some time, Kane'aukai ("Kane, Ocean Traveler"), their oldest brother, came in search of them. His body was in the form of a piece of wood, and after he had drifted on the surface of the ocean for several days, he came ashore at Kealia in Mokule'ia, Kawaihapai, Waialua, where he was carried in and out by the tide. After a while, he changed into a human being and journeyed to Kapaeloa (just south of Waimea Bay on the North Shore of O'ahu), where two old men lived.
When Kane'aukai approached the home of the two old men, he saw them preparing an umu (underground oven), and after it was covered up, they went to the beach to fish. After they fished for some time without success Kane'aukai called out to them: "E old men, to what god do you make offerings?"
The old men replied: "We offer food to a god whose name we don't know."
Kane'aukai then said: "Here is his name. When you make an offering, say, "E Kane'aukai, Here are vegetables and fish."
The old men agreed to do this. Thus is Kane'aukai worshiped to this day. The two old men, along with others who so desired, took Kane'aukai as their fishing god. (e)
(a) The genealogy of Hina'aimalama and the story of Maikoha andKaihuopala'ai were published in Hawaiian and English in Fornander, Vol. V, 266-273. The transformation of people or gods into useful plants is a common theme in Hawaiian traditions. Taro is said to have grown from the first still born child of Wakea, the sky father, and his daughter Ho'ohokuikalani. The god Ku is said to have turned into the 'ulu, or breadfruit tree. Many of the gods have both human and plant or animal forms.
(b) The wauke plant was used for making kapa (bark cloth). Another version of the Maikoha story is found in William D. Westervelt's "Hawaiian Legends of Old Honolulu" (63-60). This version places his transformation into Wauke at Nu'uanu, O'ahu, rather than Kaupo, Maui:
At Pu'iwa, in Nu'uanu, O'ahu, by the side of the stream, a farmer named Maikoha lived with his daughters, raising whatever food they needed for themselves and for their tribute to the king and their offerings to the gods.
Years passed by and Maikoha became weak and ill. On his deathbed he called his daughters and told them: "When I die, bury my body close to the waters of our stream. A tree will grow from the grave. From the bark of this tree, you will make kapa, for clothing as well as covering when you sleep or are ill."
After his death, the daughters buried their father by the stream, and a tree grew from the grave, one they had never seen before. It was not tall and large, but threw out a number of small, spreading branches. This was the wauke (Broussonetia papyrifera). The body of their father had become the tree, a gift to them.
The daughters broke off some of the branches, stripped off the bark, and pounded and pounded until the pieces were fused together into cloth. Thus was invented kapa, "the beaten thing."
Wherever the daughters cut or broke the branches of this new tree the broken pieces took root, or, if the fragments were caught by the swift-flowing stream, they were tossed on the bank or carried and scattered over the plain. Thus wauke spread until it grew even to the sea.
Branches were carried to the other islands, and the wauke became a blessing to all the people. This tree under the name "aute," which is the same as wauke, was a blessing to many Polynesians, from Tahiti to New Zealand. In after years other trees, such as the mamaki (Pipturus Albidus), the ma'aloa and po'ulu (young breadfruit shoots), were found to have bark from which kapa could be made; but the old people said, "Wauke makes the best kapa for fine, soft clothing."
Maikoha became the chief 'aumakua, or ancestral god, of the Hawaiian kapa-makers, and has been worshipped for generations. When they planted the wauke branches, or shoots, prayers and incantations and sacrifices were offered to Maikoha. Before branches were cut and placed in bundles to be carried to a field set apart for kapa-making, the favor of Maikoha was again sought.
One of the daughters of Maikoha, whose name was Lauhuiki, became the 'aumakua of all those who pounded the prepared bark, for to her was given the power of finding kapa in the bark of the wauke, and she had the power to teach how to pound the bark as well as of to bless the labor of those who worshipped her.
The other daughter, La'ahana, was also worshipped as an 'aumakua by those who used specially marked clubs while beating the bark to impress patterns or marked lines into the finished product. She had learned how to scratch the clubs with sharks' teeth so that markings would be left in the pounded sheets. She was also able to teach those who worshipped her to mark figures or patterns on the pounded kapa.
Thus Maikoha and his daughters became the chief gods of the kapa-makers.
(c) Pili'ama was a fisherman "who surfs to the mouth of the stream of Ihukoko, who catches aku fish at Kapahu and Kapapaiki," was the konohiki (overseer) of Ihukoko. When Hi'iaka, Pele's sister, asked him at Pupukea what kind of fish he was catching, he replied kala (unicorn fish), moi (threadfish), 'o'io (bonefish), aholehole (flagtail), uhu (parrot fish), 'opelu (mackerel scad), manini (striped tang), hinane [hinana? young 'o'opu or gobey fish], and crabs. When she asked him for fish, he ran away and hid (Sterling and Summers 144).
(d) Laniloa is said to be a mo'o god, slain by the hero Kana (Sterling and Summers 158). Kaihuku'una is a palce on the Hau'ula side of Laniloa Point. There used to be a fishing shrine there, where mullet was offered (Sterling and Summers 159).
(e) A longer version of the story of Kane'aukai is included under "Stories of Waialua." A fishing shrine to Kane'aukai was located at Keahuohapu'u, the bluff on the south side of Waimea Bay. It consisted of a stone and later the log which embodied the god. The fish attracted to the bay by this shrine included the 'anaeholo (mullet) and the kala (unicorn fish), abundant from April to July. More traditions concerning this fishing shrine can be found in Sterling and Summers, Sites of O'ahu.
Kanekua'ana is a mo'o, or water lizard (a), who came from Kahiki and brought with her the pipi, or pearl oyster, from which the estuary got its English name ("Pearl Harbor, from the Hawaiian "Wai momi" or "Pearl waters." She also brought 'opae (shrimp), nehu (anchovies), and other kinds of seafood. Kamakau writes: Kanekua'ana "guarded all the district of 'Ewa, and the natives from Halawa to Honouliuli had faith in her. She cared specially for those related to her, but the blessings that came to them were shared by all" (Sterling and Summers 51). The pearl oysters was abundant up until the 19th century: "Not six months after the hau branches were set up [to place a kapu on a nearshore fishing area], the pipi were found in abundance--enough for all of 'Ewa--and fat with flesh. Within the oyster was a jewal called a pearl (momi), beautiful as the eyeball of a fish, white and shining; white as the cuttlefish and shining with the colors of the rainbow--reds and yellows and blues, and some pinkish white, ranging in size from small to large" (Kamakau Ka Po'e Kahiko 83). The pipi began disappearing around the mid-19th century. Mary Kawena Pukui tells this tradition about their disappearance (Sterling and Summers 50):
The pipi was called the "i'a hamau leo" or "fish with a silenced voice." It was not the pipi that was silent but the people who gathered them, for it was kapu to utter a sound lest a breeze arise suddenly to ripple the surface of the water and the pipi would vanish completely. Those who gathered the pipi gestured and pointed like deaf mutes until they had all they wanted.
I have heard (not from a Hawaiian source) that it was muddy deposits on the sea floor that caused the disappearance of most of the pipi in that locality. According to the Hawaiians, it was the wrath of Kanekua'ana that made her take them back to Kahiki.
In the olden days kapu were imposed on certain sea foods several months a year to allow them to multiply and increase. Then the kapu was lifted and the people were permitted to help themselves. In this way the food supply was insured year after year.
One day, an old woman went to get some sea weeds and found a number of large pipi which were kapu at the time. They looked good to her so she took them and placed them in her bag under the sea weeds. The konohiki or head man came to look into the bags of the fishers and found the prohibited pipi in her bag. He emptied it into the sea and scolded her. She knew that she was wrong and answered nothing. After gathering enough sea weeds for herself, she departed for her home.
The konohiki followed her and demanded payment. She pleaded with him not to be harsh because she was a widow and poor but he kept insisting until she gave him a coin, all the money she had. (This was a post-European period and the Haole had brought money to Hawaii nei.) Kanekua'ana, the guardian of the pipi saw all this and became very angry. She was fond of this old widow to whom she was related. The emptying of the basket she felt was just but the following after and the demanding of payment for the pipi he had already returned to the sea was unfair. That night her spirit took possession of a neighbor who often acted as her medium and told all of those present that she was taking the pipi to Kahiki from whence she brought them. Only a few would be left but they would never be as numerous as they formerly were. Kanekua'ana kept her promise to take most of the pipi away, for only a few can be found in the water there today.
No where else in all Hawaii were there so many kinds of bivalves as in Pearl Harbor. There were large and small ones, thin-shelled and thick-shelled ones beside the pipi, famed in legends and chants. These, too, have dwindled in number (Mary Kawena Pukui, "Ke Awa Lau o Puuloa," Hawn. Hist. Soc. Report #52, 1943).
(a) Mo'o, or water lizards, were guardians of fishponds, of which there were several in Pu'uloa, and were worshiped by the people of the area in order to assure an abundance of fish. These spirits lived in the water, and appeared black, from 12-30 feet long. Other mo'o guardians of O'ahu were Laniwahine of Uko'a fishpond in Waialua, Hauwahine at Kawainui and Ka'elepulu in Kailua, and Laukupu in the fishpond at Maunalua Bay (Kamakau Ka Po'e 82-85). The mo'o family was said to have migrated under Mo'oinanea to Hawai'i from Tahiti, where the mo'o was worshiped by the royal Oropa'a family (Beckwith Mythology 128). The mo'o first landed on O'ahu and lived at Waolani and Pu'unui in Nu'uanu Valley before moving to other places in the islands (Sterling and Summers 37). For more on the Mo'o gods, see "1. Mo'o" in "'Aumakua of Kona, O'ahu.").