The shark and fisherman of Waikiki
Story and art by KK
Have you ever wondered why there are no shark attacks in Waikiki? This mo`olelo tells the reason why there are no shark attacks in Waikiki.
In the days of old, Waikiki was very famous for its beautiful taro patches and wonderful sands that went miles out to the sea.
Inland from the beach, where Waikiki is now densely populated and filled with buildings and streets, the area was all lo`i kalo – lush taro patches fed by freshwater springs and streams.
Many fishermen would cast their nets out into the sea near Waikiki because there was an abundance of fish feeding from plentiful springs which nourished the ocean reefs and living things.
There was a man called Pau`ole, whose name means “never ending.” He was a very good farmer and fisherman. But for some reason, the fish were scarce in this wa kahiko (days of old) and not running for quite a long time. And the ‘ia kau la’i (dried fish) was beginning to run low. So Pau`ole, went out into the sea, trying to find the fish to feed his Ohana.
Alas, he could find no fish. As he patiently continued searching, he saw something in the water which looked like fish. Knowing he had a chance, he said to himself, “E kiloe i ka makau ma ke kai,” and threw his hook. It snagged the fish and he was pleased.
He fought the fish to bring it near, but when he pulled it into the canoe, he noticed it was a mano (shark). The fish were so scarce that he sent a prayer to the Heavenly One to forgive him for taking his own Aumakua (ancestral guardian). But this harvest was necessary to feed his Ohana. He thought that maybe if he sliced the shark up thin and packed it good with pa`akai (salt), no one would know they were eating Aumakua. So he decided to bring it into the canoe and not let it go.
When he did so, something particular happened. The shark looked at him and spoke, “Please, let me go.”
So Pau`ole held onto the mano and said, “Huh? You want me to let you go? Why should I do that? My family is starving and there are no fish in these waters – maybe you are the one eating them. So I will open you up and get all the fish you have in your opu (stomach). After that, I will dig an imu (underground oven) so that my Ohana can eat fresh fish from your opu. And your body will be dried for us to eat during this drought.”
The shark, Kama`aina Mano, looked at him in a particular way again and he felt love for Pau`ole, but he also felt love for his own life. So Kama`aina Mano came up with a plan. He told Pau`ole, “E Kalawai’a (fisherman), please let me go. If you do so, these waters will always be abundant with fish and no mano will ever bite a human being in theses waters again.”
“Hmmm,” Pau`ole thought, “That’s a very good deal, I’m going to let you go.”
And so he did. So to this day and age, there have not been any shark attacks in Waikiki and the fish there are abundant.