The guardian sharks of Pu'uloa were Ka'ahupahau and her brother Kahi'uka. Such guardian sharks, which inhabited the coastlines of all the islands, were benevelont gods who were cared for and worshiped by the people and who aided fishermen, protected the life of the seas, and drove off man-eating sharks. Ka'ahupahau may mean "Well-cared for Feather Cloak" (the feather cloak was a symbol of royalty). Kahi'uka means "Smiting Tail"; his shark tail was used to strike at enemy sharks; he also used his tail to strike fishermen as a warning that unfriendly sharks had entered Pu'uloa. Ka'ahupahau lived in an underwater cave in Honouliuli lagoon (West Loch). Kahi'uka lived in an underwater cave off Moku'ume'ume (Ford Island) near Keanapua'a Point at the entrance of East Loch; he also had the form of an underwater stone. (Sterling and Summers 54, 56).The following story by Pa'ahana Wiggin, published in 1926 (Pukui and Green), tells of Ka'ahupahau's defense of her waters against Mikololou, a man-eating shark from the Big Island:
Mikololou was a shark from Ka'u district on the island of Hawai'i (a). One day he and his shark friends, Kua, Keli'ikaua o Ka'u, Pakaiea, and Kalani, set out on a visit to O'ahu. On the way they fell in with other sharks all going in the same direction.
Arriving at Pu'uloa ("Long-Hill," Pearl Harbor), they encountered Ka'ahupahau, the female shark who guarded the entrance of Pearl Harbor. She had another body in the form of a net extremely difficult to tear, with which she captured all alien sharks who entered her harbor. Her brother Kahi'uka, "The-smiting-tail," struck at intruders with his tail, one side of which was larger than the other and very sharp (b). These two with their followers were not man-eating sharks and the people on land guarded them well, bringing them food and scraping their backs free of the barnacles that attached themselves there (c).
When the visitors arrived, one of them remarked, "Ah! what delicious-looking crabs you have here!" Now man-eating sharks speak of men as "crabs," and Ka'ahupahau knew at once that some of the strangers were man-eaters. But she could not distinguish between the good and the bad sharks, hence she changed into the form of a great net and hemmed in her visitors while the fishermen who answered her signal came to destroy them (d).
Keli'ikaua o Ka'u changed himself into a pao'o (a fish capable of leaping from one shoreline pool to another) and leaped out of the net. Kua changed into a lupe, or spotted sting-ray, and, weighing down the net on one side, helped his son Kalani and his nephew Pakaiea, who were half-human, to escape. But before anything more could be done, the fishermen hauled in the nets to shore and poor Mikololou was cast upon the shore with the evil doers, where they were left to die of the intense heat.
All were soon dead but Mikololou; though his body died his head lived on and as the fishermen passed to and from their work, his eyes followed them and tears rolled down his face. At last his tongue fell out. Some children playing nearby found it. They picked it up and cast it into the sea.
Now Mikololou's spirit had passed out of his head into his tongue and as soon as he felt the water again he became a whole shark (e). With a triumphant flop of his tail, he headed for home to join his friends again. When Ka'ahupahau saw him, it was too late to prevent his departure.
"Mikololou lived through his tongue," or, as the Hawaiians say, "I ola o Mikololou i ka alelo." This saying implies that however much trouble one may have, there is always a way of escape.
Ka'ahupahau no longer lives at Pu'uloa, coming and going with her twin sons Kupipi and Kumaninini. But when the United States government built a dry-dock for the navy just over the old home of Ka'ahupahau, the natives regarded the proceedings with superstitious fear. Scarcely was it completed after years of labor when the structure fell with a crash (f). Today a floating dock is employed. Engineers say that there seem to be tremors of the earth at this point which prevent any structure from resting upon the bottom, but Hawaiians believe that "The-smiting-tail" still guards the blue lagoon at Pearl Harbor.
(b) In Papers of the Hawaiian Historical Society, No. 2, page 10, Mr. Joseph Emerson gives a pleasant picture of "Ka'ahupahau and her brother Kahi'uka, the two famous shark-gods of the 'Ewa lagoon on this island. Their birth and childhood differed in no essential features from that of other Hawaiian children up to the time when, leaving the home of their parents, they wandered away one day and mysteriously disappeared. After a fruitless search, their parents were informed that they had been transformed into sharks. As such, they became the special object of worship for the people of the districts of 'Ewa and Wai'anae, with whom they maintained the pleasantest relations, and were henceforth regarded as their friends and benefactors." In Emerson's story, Mikololou is represented as a man-eater. He is lured up the Waipahu river and fed with 'awa until he can be easily snared in nets and dragged up on shore, whence he escapes. Ka'ahupahau had supposedly passed away when Emerson wrote (in 1892), but Kahi'uka still lived in the old cave by the sea. His last keeper, Kimona, sometimes found his fish-nets missing and knew that Kahi'uka had carried them upshore to a place of safety [MWB].
Kamakau says that Ka'ahupahau was an ancestral shark god, not a human who became a shark; she was a sister of Kamohoali'i (Ka Po'e 75).
The high regard for human life embodied in this kapu banning man-eating among sharks is paralleled on land by kapu against cannibalism and human sacrifice on O'ahu. (See "Hanaaumoe" and "O'ahunui" in this collection.)
Ka'ahupahau was hospitable to sharks that were not man-eaters. A pleasant visit by a group of friendly sharks led by Ka'ehuikimano is described in "Ka'ehuikimanoopu'uloa," a translation published in Thrum's More Hawaiian Folk Tales (293-306) from an article that appeared in the newspaper Au Okoa, Nov. 24, 1870:
(d). In Webb's version (Thrum More Hawaiian Folk Tales), the nets are spread by the fishermen. The sharks tear through four nets, but the fifth is too strong for them. The number of nets probably corresponds to the ritual number five in the worship of the god Ku [MWB]. In her notes, Beckwith refers the reader to the old Hawaiian saying, "Alahula o Pu'uloa, he alahele na Ka'ahupahau," and interprets the saying as comparing the waving motion of a shark's tail to the love dance of the ala-hula and the snares of a siren to those by which the great shark entrapped unwary visitors.
Mary Kawena Pukui gives a different interpretation of the saying in 'Olelo No'eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings, No. 105: "Alahula o Pu'uloa, he alahele na Ka'ahupahau": "Everywhere in Pu'uloa is the trail of Ka'ahupahau. Said of a person who goes everywhere, looking, peering, seeing all, or of a person familiar with every nook and corner of a place." Ka'ahupahau was noted for traveling about, vigilantly guarding her domain against man-eating invaders.
(e) In Webb's version Thrum More Hawaiian Folktales (308), a dog swallows the tongue. A little later the dog jumps into the sea for a swim and is transformed into the shark Mikololou [MWB]. As Mikololou returns home to Hawai'i, other sharks teased him for returning home with only his tongue (308).
(f) This incident happened about 1914. The government bore the cost of the failure and no blame was attached to the company who built the dock, but whether the old shark gods entered into the case I have never heard reported [MWB].