In Hawaiian mythology, an ʻaumakua (/aʊˈmɑːkuːə/; often spelled aumakua) is a family god, often a deified ancestor. The Hawaiian plural of ʻaumakua is nā ʻaumākua ([naːˈʔɐumaːˈkuwə]). ʻAumākua frequently manifested as animals such as sharks or owls. ʻAumākua were worshipped at localities (often rocks) where they were believed to "dwell". The appearance of an animal one regarded as an ʻaumakua was often believed to be an omen (of good or ill). There are also many stories of nā ʻaumākua (in animal form) intervening to save their descendants from harm. It was extremely bad luck to harm a manifested ʻaumakua.

Some families had many ʻaumākua. Mary Kawena Pukui's family had at least fifty known ʻaumākua.[1]

ʻAumākua were thus animals, places or rocks, and people. Ancient Hawaiians would have seen no contradiction in a powerful spirit being able to appear as all three, switching from form to form as convenient—as is indeed seen in many stories of gods and demigods.

A symbiotic relationship exists between person and ʻaumakua, the personal guardians of each individual and their family and the ancient source gods from whom Hawaiians were descended.

ʻAumakua can manifest in nature. The form varies family to family. Whatever its form, the ʻaumakua is only one specific shark, owl, etc. However, all members of the species are treated with respect by family members. If family ʻaumakua, these manifestations were not harmed or eaten; in turn, ʻaumakua warned and reprimanded in dreams, visions, and calls.

"ʻAumākua are intimate members of the human family, spiritual relationships with them are especially close and their presence is sought for feast and festivity, as well as in time of crisis. They act as healers and advisors, counteracting troubles and punishing faults." - J. Gutmanis

ʻAumākua could appear as:

Hawaii spirit helpers who would either be permitted to continue on to the realm of spirits or, because they still had earthly obligations, be sent back to their bodies.

In Media

  • As the 2016 video games Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon by Nintendo take place in a fictional archipelago inspired by the real-world location of Hawaii, the story makes reference to various aspects of Hawaiian culture, including the aumakua:
    • Tapu Koko is called the guardian deity of Melemele Island and has a mask-like shell that looks like a stylized rooster head.[5] Each other island also has its own specific guardian deity (the butterfly-like Tapu Lele for Akala Island, the bull-like Tapu Bulu for Ula ula Island and the fish-like Tapu Fini for Poni Island).
  • In the 2016 Disney 3D computer-animated musical movie Moana, Maui transforms into a hawk, a gecko and a shark, reference to the ‘io, mo‘o and manō.[6] Additionally, the concept of the Aumakua is believed to be an inspiration for Tala's transformation into a manta ray; the Aumakua is referenced by name in pre-production artwork.[7]
  • In the 1993 novel The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk, Aumakua is discussed as a synonym for the 'oversoul' or 'morphogenetic field' of a virus as a collective entity in the ch'i world.[8]
  • On the seventh season's fifteenth episode for the U.S. television series Hawaii Five-O, Kono Kalakaua mentions that her family's aumakua is the manō so she wants to protect them.
  • The name of Amy Hanaiali'i's 2008 CD with the Matt Catingub Orchestra of Hawaiʻi.


  1. ^ Pukui, Mary Kawena; E. W. Haertig, Catharine A. Lee (June 1983). Nana I Ke Kumu (Look to the Source). Hui Hanai. ISBN 978-0-9616738-0-2.
  2. ^ |author= Pali Jae Lee
  3. ^ Banko, Paul C.; Donna L. Ball; Winston E. Banko (2002). "Hawaiian Crow (Corvus hawaiiensis)". In A. Poole (ed.). The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  4. ^ Hollier, Dennis (August–September 2007). "Learning the Land". Hana Hou!. 10 (4).
  5. ^ "Tapu Koko". Pokemon Sun-Pokemon Moon. Nintendo. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  6. ^ Moana (2016)
  7. ^ "Ryan Lang's Portfolio - Moana". Ryan Lang's Portfolio.
  8. ^ Starhawk (10 August 2011). "The Fifth Sacred Thing". Random House Publishing Group – via Google Books.

External links

Aumakua (moth)

Aumakua is a genus of moths of the family Noctuidae, consisting of one species Aumakua omaomao, which is endemic to Hawaii.

Adults are known to fly at dusk.

The larvae feed on Clermontia fauriei and Trematolobelia kauaiensis. They cut the plant (early instars create discs in the leaf, while later instars cut along the edge), thus allowing the latex to drain before consuming the plant material.


Cuculliinae is one of the larger subfamilies of moths in the family Noctuidae.

Ghosts in Polynesian culture

There was widespread belief in ghosts in Polynesian culture, some of which persists today.

After death, a person's ghost would normally travel to the sky world or the underworld, but some could stay on earth. In many Polynesian legends, ghosts were often involved in the affairs of the living. Ghosts might also cause sickness or even invade the body of ordinary people, to be driven out through strong medicines.

Hammerhead shark

The hammerhead sharks are a group of sharks in the family Sphyrnidae, so named for the unusual and distinctive structure of their heads, which are flattened and laterally extended into a "hammer" shape called a cephalofoil. Most hammerhead species are placed in the genus Sphyrna, while the winghead shark is placed in its own genus, Eusphyra. Many, but not necessarily mutually exclusive, functions have been postulated for the cephalofoil, including sensory reception, manoeuvering, and prey manipulation. Hammerheads are found worldwide in warmer waters along coastlines and continental shelves. Unlike most sharks, some hammerhead species usually swim in schools during the day, becoming solitary hunters at night. Some of these schools can be found near Malpelo Island in Colombia, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, Cocos Island off Costa Rica, near Molokai in Hawaii, and off southern and eastern Africa.

Hawaiian crow

The Hawaiian crow or ʻAlalā (Corvus hawaiiensis) is a species of bird in the crow family, Corvidae, that is currently extinct in the wild, though reintroduction programs are underway. It is about the size of the carrion crow at 48–50 centimetres (19–20 in) in length, but with more rounded wings and a much thicker bill. It has soft, brownish-black plumage and long, bristly throat feathers; the feet, legs and bill are black. Today, the Hawaiian crow is considered the most endangered of the family Corvidae. They are recorded to have lived up to 18 years in the wild, and 28 years in captivity. Some Native Hawaiians consider the Hawaiian crow an ʻaumakua (family god).The species is known for strong flying ability and resourcefulness, and the reasons for its extirpation are not fully understood. It is thought that introduced diseases, such as Toxoplasma gondii, avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum), and fowlpox, were probably a significant factor in the species' decline.

Hawaiian religion

Hawaiian religion encompasses the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of Native Hawaiians. It is polytheistic and animistic, with a belief in many deities and spirits, including the belief that spirits are found in non-human beings and objects such as other animals, the waves, and the sky.

Hawaiian religion originated among the Tahitians and other Pacific islanders who landed in Hawaiʻi between 500 and 1300 AD. Today, Hawaiian religious practices are protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Traditional Hawaiian religion is unrelated to the modern New Age practice known as "Huna."

Honolulu Community College

Honolulu Community College is a public community college in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. It is one of ten branches of the University of Hawaiʻi system anchored by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

HCC's strengths are in its industrial programs including such items as automotive and aircraft maintenance. The Marine Education and Training Center trains candidates for marine programs.

Huna (New Age)

Huna is a Hawaiian word adopted by Max Freedom Long (1890–1971) in 1936 to describe his theory of metaphysics. Long cited what he believed to be the spiritual practices of ancient Hawaiian kahunas (priests) as inspiration; however, the system is his invention, with roots in New Thought and Theosophy, rather than in traditional Hawaiian beliefs. Huna is part of the New Age movement.

In This Life (Collin Raye song)

"In This Life" is a song written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin, and recorded by American country music singer Collin Raye that reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. It was released in July 1992 as the first single and title track from his CD In This Life.

Jason Momoa

Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa (born August 1, 1979) is

an American actor. He played Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe, beginning with the 2016 superhero film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and in the 2017 ensemble Justice League and his 2018 solo film Aquaman. In Baywatch Hawaii, he portrayed Lifeguard Jason Ioane. On television, he played Ronon Dex on the military science fiction television series Stargate Atlantis, Khal Drogo in the HBO fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and Declan Harp in the CBC series Frontier.

Momoa portrayed the title character in the sword and sorcery film Conan the Barbarian (2011). Road to Paloma was Momoa's first film as director, writer, and producer. He also starred in the lead role in the film, released on July 11, 2014.

Kapu Aloha

A Kapu Aloha is an order of restraint placed by kahuna (Hawaiian priests) or other Hawaiian cultural practitioners,or white man to act with only kindness, love and empathy. During the ceremonial period (enactment proceedings), alcohol, drugs and tobacco are prohibited. This separates the secular from the sacred and begins the ritual process collectively. Total purity is not attained but enacts a separation of ordinary life to mark the activities as sacred. Manulani Aluli Meyer, in a University of Hawaii panel discussion and commentary states: "A Kapu Aloha is a multidimensional concept and practice inspired by our kupuna. It has been used within a Hawaiian cultural context for many years". The practice initiates a discipline to remain compassionate and for those involved to use only aloha towards others.Activists and Native Hawaiians use the practice while demonstrating against development on Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea Anaina Hou (MKAH) is an organization made up of kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) lineal descendants and cultural practitioners that support litigation, education and conservation on Mauna Kea. MKAH states; "Our work is grounded in the principles of Kapu Aloha" and describing "Aloha" as;




Righteous action

Dignity and grace

A force of goodThe organization believe Kapu aloha is; "A philosophy not just a word. Kapu Aloha is Aloha in action. When Aloha is enacted, our actions are overseen by the Akua, ‘Aumakua, and Kūpuna. Every participant can act as they choose, but they are responsible for their own actions and intentions." They include 11 attributes and actions individuals should heed, closing with; "Choose to redirect anger in righteous, non-violent, and peaceful actions in a collective way. Anger is a normal human response to injustice and Kapu Aloha gives us a way to seek justice in non-violent ways."

In Hawaiian mythology, Kū or Kūkaʻilimoku is one of the four great gods. The other three are Kanaloa, Kāne, and Lono.

Feathered god images or ʻaumakua hulu manu are considered to represent Kū. Kū is worshipped under many names, including Kū-ka-ili-moku (also written Kūkaʻilimoku), the "Snatcher of Land". Kūkaʻilimoku rituals included human sacrifice, which was not part of the worship of other gods.


In Hawaiian mythology, Laka is the name of two different popular heroes from Polynesian mythology. (In other parts of Polynesia they are known as Rātā, Rata, Lata, Ata, or Lasa). Lengthy legends of their exploits extend throughout the islands, and the kings of Tahiti and Hawaiʻi claimed them as their ancestors.In one Hawaiian legend, Laka is the son of the Ali'i nui Wahieloa and Hoʻolaukahili, grandson of Kahaʻinuiahema. He plans to sail to Hawaii to avenge the murder of his father, but his canoe-building is thwarted by the little gods of the forest. Because of his offerings to the great gods, however, they give him two outriggers that binds together for his long voyage. He and his companions successfully steal the bones of his father from the cave of Kai-kapu.

List of figures in the Hawaiian religion

Hawaiian narrative or mythology, tells stories of nature and life. It is considered a variant of a more general Polynesian narrative, developing its own unique character for several centuries before about 1800. It is associated with the Hawaiian religion. The religion was officially suppressed in the 19th century, but kept alive by some practitioners to the modern day.


Moʻo are shapeshifting lizard spirits in Hawaiian mythology.


The pueo (Asio flammeus sandwichensis) is a subspecies of the short-eared owl and is endemic to Hawaii. The pueo is one of the more famous of the various physical forms assumed by ʻaumākua (ancestor spirits) in Hawaiian culture.

Pueo inhabit forests and grasslands throughout the islands of Hawaiʻi, although their numbers seem to be declining, particularly in the last two decades, and especially on the island of Oʻahu, upon which they were at one time numerous. Pueo is listed by the state of Hawaiʻi as an endangered species on the island of Oʻahu.


Sharks are a group of elasmobranch fish characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head. Modern sharks are classified within the clade Selachimorpha (or Selachii) and are the sister group to the rays. However, the term "shark" has also been used for extinct members of the subclass Elasmobranchii outside the Selachimorpha, such as Cladoselache and Xenacanthus, as well as other Chondrichthyes such as the holocephalid eugenedontidans.

Under this broader definition, the earliest known sharks date back to more than 420 million years ago. Acanthodians are often referred to as "spiny sharks"; though they are not part of Chondrichthyes proper, they are a paraphyletic assemblage leading to cartilaginous fish as a whole. Since then, sharks have diversified into over 500 species. They range in size from the small dwarf lanternshark (Etmopterus perryi), a deep sea species of only 17 centimetres (6.7 in) in length, to the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the largest fish in the world, which reaches approximately 12 metres (40 ft) in length. Sharks are found in all seas and are common to depths of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). They generally do not live in freshwater although there are a few known exceptions, such as the bull shark and the river shark, which can be found in both seawater and freshwater. Sharks have a covering of dermal denticles that protects their skin from damage and parasites in addition to improving their fluid dynamics. They have numerous sets of replaceable teeth.Well-known species such as the tiger shark, blue shark, mako shark, thresher shark, and hammerhead shark are apex predators—organisms at the top of their underwater food chain. Many shark populations are threatened by human activities.

Violet Lake

Violet Lake (Hawaiian: Kiʻowaiokihawahine), is a small high-elevation lake located at 5,020 ft (1,530 m) above sea level on Mauna Kahalawai (the West Maui Mountains), situated in the western part of the island of Maui. It is located in the boggy slopes near the ʻEke Crater and Puʻu Kukui, the highest peak of the West Maui Mountains. It is approximately 10 ft × 20 ft (3.0 m × 6.1 m) in size.The lake's English name derive from the reflected color of the lake's surface and also the Maui violet (Viola mauiensis) which grows on its banks. The Hawaiian language name Kiʻowaiokihawahine means the "pond of Kihawahine".The lake was important to the traditional Hawaiian religion. During ancient times, the lake and surrounding summit area was protected by kapu and regarded as the meeting place of heaven and earth. The lake was believed to be the home of the Hawaiian moʻo (lizard) goddess Kihawahine, who was associated with the aliʻi nui (high chiefs or kings) of Maui and an ʻaumakua (family deity) of Queen Keōpūolani, a descendant of the Maui royal line and the highest-ranking wife of King Kamehameha I, who established the Kingdom of Hawaii, and their son Kamehameha III. Kihawahine was also associated with the wetland and former royal complex at Mokuʻula located in the watersheds below the lake in Lahaina.The surrounding montane rainforest ecosystem on the slopes of Puʻu Kukui Watershed Management Area (the second wettest spot in the Hawaiian Islands) is extremely diverse and home to many endemic species. The lake's own unique ecosystem have not been well studied.

Species include the dwarfed ʻōhiʻa lehua tree (Metrosideros polymorpha), the Maui violet (Viola mauiensis), a variety of Hawaiian lobelioids (Lobelia gloriamontis), the Hawaiian damsel flies (Megalagrion spp.), and others. It has been described as an "extremely rare gem" which have "residents and visiting scientists alike".


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