Hawaiians’ Relationship with Sharks

You can read what two well-known and respected Hawaiians had to say about ‘aumakua.

Parley Kanaka‘ole was by far one of the most respected of Hawaiian cultural figures. Son of hula and Hawaiiana legend Edith Kanaka‘ole, Parley worked to promote a deeper understanding of Hawaiian culture through his involvement in numerous community activities and organizations.

He was a member of the Protect Kaho‘olawe Ohana. He helped restore ancient fishponds, assisted in archaeological mapping of historic and prehistoric sites, and served as a delegate from Hawaii at many gatherings of indigenous people from around the Pacific.

In addition to being vice principal of Hana High and Elementary School, he was a musician, composer, chanter, fisherman, farmer, poet and healer.

Parley was also a member of the state’s Shark Task Force, and in that capacity he taped an interview about the significance of sharks in Hawaiian culture. The information was intended for use in the Task Force’s educational projects, and portions of the interview appear in the video “Hawaiian Waters: House of the Shark.”

Parley’s life was tragically cut short by an automobile accident August 14, 1993 at the age of 52. According to his colleagues, he was “a shining example for all Hawaiians,” and he embodied the best of humankind.

Herb Kawainui Kane was an author and artist-historian with special interest in Hawai‘i and the South Pacific. He resided in rural South Kona on the island of Hawaii.

Research on Polynesian canoes and voyaging led to his participation as general designer and builder of the sailing canoe Hokule‘a, on which he served as its first captain. Hokule‘a has made a number of round trip voyages to South Pacific destinations, including a 16,000 mile pan-Polynesia voyage to New Zealand and back, a trip to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and in 2014 set out on a 47,000 mile voyage around the world, all navigated without instruments.

In 1984 he was elected a Living Treasure of Hawai‘i. In the 1987 “Year of the Hawaiian” celebration, he was one of 16 persons chosen as Po’okela (Champion).

Herb was a member of the state’s Shark Task Force, and wrote a paper entitled “The ‘Aumakua — Hawaiian Ancestral Spirits” for the other task force members in order to explain the cultural significance of sharks.

Herb passed away March 8, 2011 in South Kona.