Hanaaumoe was a flattering akua (mischievous spirit) who lived on O'ahu during the reign of Halali'i. Hanaaumoe was assigned to stand watch along the coast of O'ahu. When canoes from other islands passed by, he invited the travelers ashore with his artful flattery. Once ashore the travelers were killed and eaten by the akua of O'ahu.
While on duty one day, he saw a double canoe approaching O'ahu from the west. In the canoe was the chief Kahaookamoku, a friend of the king of Kaua'i, along with several men, including Kane'opa. These travelers were on their way to Hawai'i. Hanaaumoe invited them ashore: "Come ashore, land your canoes. Don't go to Hawai'i for that island has many akua." He chanted:
When the travelers heard this invitation, they landed at Kou (a canoe landing near Nu'uanu Stream and Honolulu Harbor), hauled the canoe up onto the beach, and entered a long house, where they fell asleep waiting for the good things promised by Hanaaumoe. Later that evening Hanaaumoe came to the door of the house where the visitors were sleeping, piled on one another like castaways, all dead tired from the long crossing from Kaua'i. The akua called out:
Everyone was fast asleep except Kane'opa, who answered: "We're not sleeping yet; we're still waiting for the food and women you promised to us."
Hanaaumoe replied deceitfully: "The food and women are coming, but they haven't arrived yet. The road down from Nu'uanu is long, the journey from Kapikaki is arduous, and the plain of Kulaokahu'a is far off." (Kapikaki is near Pearl Harbor; Kula-o-kahu'a is an area of old Honolulu.)
Hanaaumoe returned to king Halali'i and the rest of the akua, who asked: "Are the visitors asleep?"
"No, not yet."
At midnight Hanaaumoe returned to the long house where the visitors were sleeping and called out:
Kane'opa answered: "No, we aren't asleep yet, we're waiting for the women you promised the paddlers and the chief."
Hanaaumoe lied as he did before, then departed.
Kane'opa suspected then that the island of O'ahu was full of akua, and that these akua wanted to eat his companions and him, so he looked for a hiding place inside the house. He decided to dig a hole under the threshold, for he knew that the king of the akua would, upon entering the house, sit there.
All this time the rest of the travelers were in a deep sleep. Kane'opa was afraid that if he fell asleep, the chief Kahaookamoku would be eaten by the akua, so he tried to stay awake. He lasted until the crowing of the first cock. Just before falling asleep, he hid in his hole under the door sill.
After he fell asleep, Hanaaumoe arrived again and called out as before, for a third time. There was no answer. Hanaaumoe called again. No answer. Hanaaumoe then said: "Now all of you will be killed and eaten. Why didn't you stay on Kaua'i instead of coming to the akua island of Halali'i and falling asleep? There's no escape now. Your flesh, your bones, your bowels, your blood, your eyesall will be consumed."
Then Hanaaumoe returned to Halali'i, who asked: "How is it, are the vistors asleep?"
"Yes, they're asleep, let's go and eat."
Thousands of akua, hundreds of thousands of akua entered the long house where Kane'opa and his companions were sleeping. Halali'i sat on the threshold. The akua smacked their lips and devoured all the visitors. Then they dug up the floor of the house looking for more victims However, they didn't look under the threshold where king Halali'i was sitting and Kane'opa was hiding. At the approach of day the akua returned home, and Kane'opa came out of his hiding place. He limped to the canoe, pushed it into the sea, and headed for Kaua'i.
While Kane'opa was still in sight, Hanaaumoe appeared on the coast and beckoned him back to land: "Come ashore. Bring the canoe ashore."
Kane'opa replied angrily: "You filthy old akua! Didn't you eat all my companions? I won't come ashore."
Upon his arrival at Kaua'i, Kane'opa informed the king and the people how his crew mates had been eaten by the akua of O'ahu, and how he was saved only by hiding. The king then asked Hanakapi'ai, his priest: "What should we do?"
The priest answered: "Carve wooden images of human beings. Make thousands, hundreds of thousands." The images were made, and the king, the priest, and a large number of followers set sail for O'ahu. They hove to directly off Le'ahi (Diamond Head) and saw Hanaaumoe inviting them ashore. Kane'opa told the Kaua'i people: "That's Hanaaumoe, the great flatterer. He's the akua who tricked us into landing."
The king and priest replied to Hanaaumoe: "Yes, we will land." The visitors came ashore and approached the same long house where Kahaookamoku and his companions had been eaten.
Toward dusk that evening, the priest told the people: "Leave the wooden images in the house and go back to the canoes. Everyone must stay awake. After all the akua have entered the house, we'll burn it down."
Later that evening, the flattering akua Hanaaumoe came to the house and called out:
No answer. He called a second time; again no answer. Hanaaumoe then said aloud to himself: "Ahaha! Why didn't you stay on Kaua'i instead of coming here and falling asleep on the akua island of Halali'i? Now all of you will die, no one will escape!"
While Hanaaumoe was saying this, the visitors were awake listening. Hanaaumoe returned to Halali'i and reported that all the visitors were asleep. Halali'i summoned his akua, and they went to the long house at the beach. Once again Halali'i sat on the threshold. The rest of the akua entered, took up the wooden images, and began eating them
"How tough this one is!" said one of the akua.
"So is this one," said another.
It was customary in those days for the king to receive the choicest portions of any food, so the fattest images were given to Halali'i. Upon taking a bite of one of them, Halali'i agreed: "Very tough."
The rest of the akua answered: "All these people are very thin and tough; not one of them is fat and juicy. They aren't at all like the first lot that came from Kaua'i."
While the akua were busy eating the wooden images, the Kaua'i people surrounded the house and set it on fire, killing all the akua with the exception of Hanaaumoe, the artful flatterer, who somehow managed to escape.
It was a traditional belief that the islands of Hawai'i were inhabited by akua, or cannibal spirits, before they were inhabited by human beings. These akua represented the antithesis of ideal human behavior, which required a host to protect, provide and care for visitors and guests. These cannibal spirits had to be destroyed before human beings could safely inhabit an area or an island.
The trickster Kaulula'au is remembered for killing off all but one of the akua of the island of Lana'i; the trickster Punia destroyed all but one of the akua of the Kona district of the Big Island. Rice tells the story of how an unnamed hero tricked the akua of Ni'ihau and burned them to death, thus making Ni'ihau safe for fishermen (68).