A Modern Story: The Shark God Came to Watch

This story was related by a Big Island resident whose family’s ‘aumakua on his mother’s side is the shark.

The story begins the evening before a celebration at Pu’ukohola (Hill of the Whale) heiau (temple) near Kawaihae Harbor in 1991. The even was planned as a rededication of the temple and a clearing away of resentments between family descendants of Kamehameha I and his cousin and rival Keoua, who was killed by Kamenhameha’s warriors and offered as a sacrifice to the war god Kuka’ilimoku when his temple was first built and dedcated.

“One of my cousins went down for the evening (ritual) cleansing in the ocean before the big celebration the following day. Right below the heiau is a shark heiau. It was built underwater (the water comes up to your waist and deeper) to feed the shark god. While they were doing the cleansing, my cousin, who was watching from the shore, saw a big shark – ten feet or bigger – come in. It stayed about 100 feet away from them and didn’t move, just idled and watched. There are sharks, whitetips, down there every day circling, but this one didn’t move. After the cleansing and the prayer, the shark left. the old kapuna said, ‘Oh, (the shark god) came to watch’. They thought it was a good sign.”

Taken from Shark and Rays of Hawaii by Gerald L. Crow and Jennifer Crites