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by Hugh D. Mailly
Like Romans of antiquity, the people of Hawaii Nei, the ancient land, had personal family gods. One of the most favorite for this illustrious position, in a household of people who's work had to do with the sea, was the shark-god Kamohoalii. He was the elder brother to Pele, the goddess of fire.

Kamohoalii enjoyed lounging the deep waters around Maui. Especially in the narrow, swift straight between Maui and the 'tapu', sacred island of Kahoolawe, where most knew him by another name, that of Kalahiki. His favorite trick around there, was to find the fleet of fishing canoes when they were out of sight of land, and hopelessly lost. Kalahiki would then swim in front of the lead boat and shake his tail. The Kahuna of the fleet, a man learned in the ways of the shark-god, would then order that 'awa' be fed to Kalahiki. This potion was made from bitter roots that had no possible use, except as something to ferment into a strong drink. The shark-god would then reward the people by leading them back home through the fog and mist that often cover those waters.

But a man had to be careful which shark he chose as his god: some sharks were just simple eaters-of-all, who were called itchy-mouthed, or uhinipili. There are many tales of large boats sinking in the waters around Maui, with noone surviving to tell of their encounter with either Kalahiki or the uhinipili. The shark-god was also known by many other names, but there was only one of him, and he is still there.

Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Shark god

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