AUMAKUAS OF HAWAIIThe Sacred Na Aumakua…what are they, who are they and where is their place in Kanaka Maoli culture? (Native Hawaiians) The culture of the Kanaka go way back…thousands of years. As they left their past behind on Tahiti they took many of their cultural history with them to the promised land of Hawai’i.  

If we are to understand the meaning of the Na Aumakua, we must understand the Spiritual Power (MANA) they posses, Mana is the spiritual energy and also healing power which can exist in places, objects and persons…with Mana there is KAPU…Kapu is a CODE of CONDUCT of LAWS and REGULATIONS. Only the Ali’i Nui (Royalty/Chiefs) could put Kapu’s on items, people, things and Aumakuas, which is a ( Family God, Guardian, Protector and Ancestor)

MANOThe “MANO”…Our Sacred Aumakua. Pictured here is the well known, loved and feared Tiger Shark of the Hawaiian Islands.

Why would a free diver off Moloka’i toss away every few fish he speared?

For his Aumakua…that’s why.

All of a sudden, this huge MANO, (Tiger Shark) came up and took the fish tossed away by the diver…The Shark did not attack the free diver, but why? For the Diver was feeding his ‘Aumakua. Wherever the diver would go, his MANO (shark) would help him, guide and protect him from other sharks…His Aumakua would protect and follow him wherever and whenever he would dive.

The Story goes like this:
A long time ago a tour boat sank off Moloka’i in the 1930s. Sharks swarmed as the tourists splashed away, all of the tourists were attacked and killed. The captain of the boat, however, started to chant and pray for protection. “His Aumakua appeared and offered his dorsal fin up and carried the captain to safely to shore. Is this just a story? Even in modern times, things like this happen. People try to explain it, but you can’t. A lot of Kanaka Maoli culture cannot be explained only accepted.

HONUCan we Forget our Na Aumakua the HONU? The Gentle Giant of the Hawaiian waters, or friend and protector as well as protector of our reef, The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle.  The Hawaiian way is to value all creatures as having a rightful place in the ecosystem…it is the essential connection between the aina, the kai, the aumakua and the mana of the old Kapu system that was in place thousands of years ago.

The shark, turtle and other Sacred Ancestors in Hawai’i are more than just ferocious ocean predators or Goats of the ocean…These Na Aumakua are woven into the fabrics of Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) History and culture.

Those who had an Aumakua believed that a departed ancestor took the form of these beings after death and appeared in dreams to living relatives. These Hawaiians would feed and pet a special Aumakua whom they believed to be a relative of their Kanaka Bloodline. In turn, the Aumakua would protect the family. This did not mean every animal a Kanaka Maoli comes across was their Aumakua…Ones Aumakua are identified very specifically by body markings, and are named. They are part of the ohana. There is a direct connection, a blood relationship between ones Aumakua and the ohana’s Bloodline. When comparing the relationship to the feelings a person might have for his elders (Kupuna). When you’re in a difficult situation, one may recall the lessons that your grandparents or great grandparents taught you…There’s a feeling that they’ll be there to watch over you, give you guidence and protection, usch as the MANO or HONU.

Care and feeding of your Aumakua was an essential part of this symbiotic relationship, may it be the MANO (Shark), the HONU (Green Sea Turtle) the MO’O (Lizard) or even the PUEO (White Owl). Caring and feeding your Aumakua would drive off all bad spirits and carry its mortal family members to safety, but in return, family members were responsible for scraping the barnacles off the Aumakuas back or belly, making sure it was well and healthy and feeding it as well, may it be Limu or fish. Fishermen would give out some of the first catch to the MANO and then the shark would disappear, when the fishermen would return from a day of fishing they would return with full nets. Only when the shark appears do the fishermen have such luck. Sometimes their Aumakua would tell them beforehand in dreams that it has gathered the fish together for them and would be waiting.

*Ancient Hawaiians relationship with the environment helped them connect more readily with their Aumakua. In ancient times there was a system of KAPU, Mana…Spiritual Power of laws and regulations…There was one penalty for polluting the ocean, taking things out of it that shouldn’t be taken, killing an Aumakua or even casting a shadow on one that had a Kapu on it…By breaking Kapu this way you took Mana away and created an unbalance and theft of mana which was a HUGE KAPU…if an Ali’i Nui (Chief) had a Kapu on an Aumakua and you even casted your shadow on the Chiefs Protector and Ancestor…the penalty was DEATH!

Every aumakua, every wind, every piece of land, every body of water, every cloud had a name and a story. Kanaka Maoli’s could talk to the trees, mountains and the animals and they would always answer back…In Life or in dreams.

This was the ways of the Kanaka Maoli people…The ways of old…The KAPU SYSTEM may be mostly gone today, but our love for our Na Aumakua thankfully is one of the traditions that continues and live on today.

It’s vital to remember, reflect, learn and respect the culture and history of the Hawaiian People…if we do that, if we show them aloha and the living beings of these islands…the islands and the Kanaka will love and respect us.

Here is a small list of our most beloved and known Na Aumakua~

ʻAumākua could appear as:


32 thoughts on “AUMAKUAS of HAWAII

  1. Great podcast! LOL It’s called a bidet–that squirty toilet thing. A duvet is a cover for a comforter. 🙂 Bruce do you know when you’ll be doing your Hawaii 50 activity? Unfortunately we won’t be there for the SOTB but will be there from 9/17-9/25. Can’t wait for the live podcast. Keep up the good work.

  2. Great show guys… Hey Bruce you said the zip line company had a great website but you got side tracked before you gave the address can you give that out for us… Mahalo see you guys in about 15 days!!!

  3. Another great show guys i loved it it was very interesting and i think or i would love for my Aumākua to be mea kanu the plant or pōhaku the rock cause i love to be in nature especially in the forest some time i enjoy being there even alone away from the stress of the city as for your Aumākua Bruce i was thinking i don’t know if this is a Aumākua tell me if it is i was thinking the dolphin pr io the hawk mahalo and aloha guys 🙂

    • The Dolphin is not listed as an Aumakua…but nor is the Hawaiian Monk Seal which I we find strange because the Hawaiian Monk Seal has been in Hawaiian waters LONG BEFORE the islands had been populated. The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin has called these waters home for a very long time as well…So could and should they be Na Aumakua…Yes.

      • No offense but the hawaiian monk seal has not inhabited these waters before man. Anytime I kukakuka with any of the old timers they all say that they were no monk seals here while they were growing up. They all state that they are new to the islands. I’ve never once in my life heard of someone’s ancester being a monk seal, the dolphin is another story but not the seal.

        • Junior…this is the first time hearing from you…we wish you would comment more if you are a listener…and Mahalo for your comment. Lets talk about the Hawaiian Monk seal for a moment, and no offense taken as questions like this are often brought up, but just not about Hawaiian Monk Seals, but many things that may or may NOT have happened in Hawaii Culture…from facts about Kamehameha The Great and if he was really that big and tall as well as first in Battle, also did Kamehameha kill his brothers on Maui and Oahu to unite the Islands?…Also was the Kanaka Maoli Flag ever in existence during the Kings reign or was it simple made up as there is no proof the Kanaka Maoli flag every existed…Are we saying now that the Kanaka Flag is FAKE because there is no proof the King used it during his reign…Where is the Kings Flag at bishop museum?…We have the Kings AHU’LUA? (Feather Cape wore in battle), but nothing on the Flag of all of Hawaii??? Just because we have no hard proof doesn’t mean it didn’t exist…Also…are we saying Manahune (called Menehune today) didn’t exist before the Tahitians discovered Hawaii because we can’t find any bones of small people, yet there are Heiau’s and structures that had existed long before Tahitians came to Hawaii? There IS proof and then there is NO proof…that’s not to say The Hawaiian Monk Seal did not exist before man or hasn’t been here on the Hawaiian islands for thousands of years…The species itself the “MONK SEAL” has existed for around 13 Millions years…this is science and it’s fact. So lets go over the facts Junior: Hawaii is NOT the only islands in the Pacific…Pacific/ Hawaiian Monk Seals have existed in the pacific for between 3-10 MILLION YEARS…this is fact as well…Now, references to the monk seal in Hawaiian literature are indeed rare, but they do exist. Our kūpuna identified the seal by various names, including `Īlioholoikauaua and nā mea hulu, among others. There are kūpuna who have traditional knowledge about the Hawaiian monk seal and its presence in pre-contact Hawai`i, but you need to remember the Native Hawaiians only inhabited the main Hawaiian Islands…The Kanaka Maoli never inhabited the islands beyond Niʻihau where MOST of the Hawaiian Monk Seals lived and still live today across the Midway Atolls, the Kure Atolls as well as the entire French Frigate Shoals. At these locations the Hawaiian Monk Seal are and always have been safe from Contact with humans. In the old days Hawaiian Monk Seals stayed clear from English hunters, Boston Whalers as well as Kanaka Maoli as the FIRST Hawaiian monk seal was first recorded alive in 1825 by scientists on the northernmost Hawaiian island at Kure Atoll, around the time of King Kamehameha’s death. In the Ancient times of Hawaiian/Tahitian culture as well as today SOME Kanaka Maoli people did and have chosen today to push aside facts and history and create a fight between them and the Hawaiian Monk Seal saying they are in direct competition for their food supply (fish)…this is simple not true as we all know there is only around 1,300 or so Monk Seals left and we all know how many fish man take from the pacific ocean today…Monk Seals could NEVER COMPETE with man or Kanaka fishermen…PERIOD! Kanaka say the Monk Seal just showed up in Hawaii recently…again, Kanaka need to be educated…Archeological remains of monk seals dating back between 1400-1700 AD were found on the Island of Hawai’i and Hawai’i Island has the FEWEST Monk Seals. The Hawaiian monk seal from it’s historical charts reached the Pacific Ocean through the Central American Seaway (now blocked by the Isthmus of Panama), and that closed approximately 3 million years ago which means the Monk Seal has been around the Hawaiian Islands for at least 3 Million years. There is no fossils or reported evidence of Hawaiian monk seals anywhere else other than the Hawaiian archipelago. Now, again…Although the Hawaiian Monk Seal is not as prominent in Native Hawaiian culture as other sea creatures when it comes to ones Na Aumakua, like Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, there is historic research revealing that some Hawaiian families have traditional ties to the Hawaiian Monk Seals and family connections with the Monk Seal through the Na Aumakua. So where has the Monk Seal been??? Many folks have not seen or heard much about the Hawaiian Monk Seals over the past few generations because their main island home, the Hawaiian archipelago above Ni’ihau are slowly sinking because of Climate Change and so the Monk Seal has continued south to the main Hawaiian islands where they KNOW they are NOT Safe, but have no choice because their land where they once lived is vanishing into the ocean.

          • Thanks for the detailed response Wayde. My only suggested correction is that just because the Ishtmus of Panama closed off migration between the Pacific and Gulf it doesn’t mean the monk seal made it here 3M years ago. What do we know of the monk seal as a na aumakua?

          • Hal…I wrote what I wrote…it was long and extensive…I spent a lot of time doing that…I can’t waste anymore time on this and I’m just being serious…I’m a busy guy…I made my statement.

  4. Great show guys as usual . Just a comment on the copycat tour guide.He is not or never will be Wayde. Wayde has the knowledge, charisma and personality to do what he does. He is not all about the almighty dollar, he treats us all like we are his Ohana. After one tour from Wayde , you can`t help but be impressed with his passion for Hawaii.

  5. I live over on the big island, by Keaau, south of Hilo, been here 5 years now, love it. I definitely is a change after 30 years in Southern California. As it’s already been stated it’s called a bidet, and a really good idea for the islands. We have a cesspool, and the toilet paper just adds to the waste that has to decompose, also by eliminating toilet paper we don’t have to import it or pay for it for that matter. A clean butt is just a bonus.
    I’m a horticulturist / nurseryman and have often thought of doing tours focused on the plants and gardens, any thoughts?

    • Tom…living off grid is HUGE on Big Island…If I was you I would focus on being a consultant on showing those who wish how to get off grid to fend for themselves. You have the knowledge and skills to bring this to people…GO FOR IT! Being a Horticulturist and Nurseryman is HUGE…now you need to complete your training and go heavy on the Aquaponics! Listen to our “OFF THE GRID” Podcast and try to figure out how you can help home owners become independent! There is a huge opening for you…you just need to say to yourself…IM FUCKING DOING THIS…don’t be a talking…take action and make it happen. Brainstorm, write up a biz plan and talk to your friends and community…ask them what they need, what they want and GIVE IT TO THEM!!!

  6. Great show guys, very interesting topic. It’s unfortunate that most of the visitors here probably don’t even stop to think about the land they are visiting.

    I do need to call shenanigans here for a second though. Wayde, you should be excited that someone else is out there trying to cop your style. 1) it shows that you had a unique product which was bound to get copied, if it were me I would find a way to crush the competition or work together to keep behemoths like Roberts Hawaii from ruining all of the good spots with their buses.

      • There is plenty of room, but it’s clear these guys knew we had been doing this for a while…here in Hawaii it’s about living PONO and NOT MAKING A (causing problems)…if this guy was a stand up guy be would have spoken with us before he copied our original idea maybe we would think differently, it’s clear this guys had to do some research on his business idea before hand unless he’s a complete idiot..what did he say…”o these guys have been doing this for a while, they are the only ones, well, fuck it…I’m going to do the same thing and copy them” …You can’t trust people like this…if he came to us and said…hey, I wanted to do Jeep Tours, but saw you guys had been doing them…do you guys have room for another Jeep and guide?” If this guy came to us like that instead of going behind our backs and taking our concept and ideas…I would be open to him joining us…but not now…he is DEAD to us!

          • How about we meet up and you come in for a podcast here on Oahu with Bruce and I and we can discuss your “ROAD TO HANA” Tour we are working on…You may just fit the bill…problem is, you have very little island experience and you probably haven’t even traveled the road to Hana before…lol ;P There is however a guy who has been doing Maui Tours with a Jeep for a while, is he legal or not, we don’t know, I say illegal…guys pretty good however and it would only be fair to speak with him before we invade his space, if he can make mopre money from us and can’t handle the business we send him, he could use you and even train you…We could have him and You join forces and take Maui by storm 😉

          • I’m definitely up for meeting with you guys. Let me figure out when I can get over to Oahu. I see what you are saying, I don’t have a ton if Island experience. I have done Road to Hana a couple time, but that just means I’m still a tourist lol.

  7. The bidet/duvet part halfway through the podcast made me laugh out loud. Much needed while in the middle of a pile of paperwork. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for the episode guys! On my visit to the BI a few years ago I was swimming and some turtles swam by me and I had a connection instantly. Now I know why to this day I still think about them. There is definitely a connection there.

  9. What would the term be for instinctively identifying with one of the islands more than others? I mean, Oahu’s great and I felt as much at home in Honolulu as I do back in San Francisco or San Diego (probably because both CA regions are filled with Filipino kids with USN parents) but I seem to identify most with Molokai yet I’ve never even been there! Kind of like aumakua, only the island itself. Wayde sure seems to feel the same way about Hawaii over Oahu!

    • Dale…this is interesting…I have been thinking about the pull/gravity to one island over the other….The only way I can explain it is in a way like we do our Aumakua…the Aumaku is a spiritual being…that means it has a spiritual energy or “HA” breath to it…So if you have a pull or gravity toward Molokai it can be only one thing…it’s MANA, its HA, spiritual energy and breath! Mana is the Spiritual Power something possesses…The MANA of Molokai calls you to it…you are pulled to Molokai by its MANA…spiritual energy.

  10. Long time listener…..first time poster…..
    Yep, love the podcast – honest, refreshing and always brightens my drive.
    Heard your idea had been carbon-copied by others and immedialty thought of this.
    Nah, not a poetry nut but Henry had a good turn of phrase – hard drinking, always down on his luck and a great observer of the human condition. He died in 1922 but good to see “the men who come behind” he described are still there!
    Will post again now I know the way – greetings from Australia!!

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