There are many different versions of this mo`olelo and this is the one that I was taught. A beautiful woman named Kalei lived in Waipi`o Valley. She would often frequent the waters at the mouth of the valley..
Kamohoali`i – the king of all sharks – saw her one day and was entranced by her beauty. Being that he was a demigod, he was able to assume a human form as an ali`i or chief. He decided to come to shore the next night in his human form to find this beautiful woman. He did, they fell in love and eventually they married. It is said that every night he would bring her seafood for her family but every morning he would be gone. Her family questioned her, asking her where does he disappear to? Why doesn’t he stay and help us tend our farm? She replied that she didn’t know and she didn’t care. That he was strong, kind and took care of her and that’s all that mattered to her. The two were very much in love indeed.
One day, Kamohoali`i told her that he must leave her. He told her that you are hāpai and you will have a boy. With that he gave her strict instructions that she must give birth alone, keep special watch over him, and that she must never allow him to eat the flesh of any animal. Kalei heeded his advice never really knowing his true identity. When she gave birth, she was a bit taken aback to notice that the boy was born with a deformity – a gaping hole on his back. To hide this, she wrapped him in a thin blanket of kapa and decided to name him Nanaue.
As he grew older, Kalei kept this secret hidden by having Nanaue wear a kīhei.
Since he was young – men and women were not allowed to eat together. As a boy, he ate in the women’s eating house, so his mother could regulate what he was eating. However, when he became of age, he went with his grandfather to eat at the men’s eating house. Of course, he saw all of the other food that the men were eating. Out of curiosity, he asked his grandpa about the different food. His grandpa proceeded to tear a piece of meat off of his food to share with the boy, but one of Nanaue’s uncles stopped him, saying No-no. Remember that he’s not supposed to eat any meat? A few days later, the uncle wasn’t there, so Nanaue asked again if he could just have a LITTLE piece. His grandpa obliged, saying that it would make him strong and brave. After that, whenever the uncles were away, the grandfather would always give him some meat. It is said that after he had that first taste of meat, the hole on his back grew sharp rows of teeth and after that day, whenever Kalei took Nanaue to the stream to bathe, he would become a young shark and would chase after the smaller fish in the stream, eating them. Because of his deformity on his back, Nanaue couldn’t do a lot of the things the other youngsters could for fear his kīhei would fall off and his deformity would be discovered. He couldn’t wrestle with the others, he couldn’t go swimming with the others, he didn’t work in the lo`i with the others. Eventually, others began to question this strange behavior? What’s wrong with him? Why won’t he play and work with us? Why does he always wear a kīhei, even when it’s so hot outside? Why is he always by himself? One day, the boy’s grandfather died and that’s when trouble began. He asked his uncles for meat and they refused, saying NO – your mom said you must not have meat and we will honor her wishes per her father. The boy admitted that his grandfather had given him some. He pleaded with them, saying please – it’s so `ono. I must have more! The uncles refused, saying that he shouldn’t have had it in the first place. However, it was too late. About this time, strange things started to happen. People started to go missing when they went swimming – were they swept out by the current? Were they devoured by a shark? No one knew. People began to get suspicious of Nanaue as he would call out to people as they were going towards the sea/…..Where are you going swimming? Where are you going fishing? And sure enough, something always happened to someone in that group of people.
One day, the high chief called upon all of the men of the valley to work in the lo`i. It was a very hot day and everyone worked bareback, everyone except for Nanaue. Out of curiosity, one of the villagers working near Nanaue pulled the kīhei off of his back, revealing his long kept secret. Immediately, the man began to yell – See the shark mouth! Nanaue became very upset at this began to attack the men around him. The people cried out in fear as Nanaue tried to make his way down to the beach! Nanaue ran and a crowd followed him. He leapt into the sea, turned into his shark form and never returned to Waipi`o.
It is said that he eventually swam to Hāna on the island of Maui and resided there.
Legend says that when Kiha was the chief of Waipi`o, everyone was miserable because there were menehune that lived above the valley that had very little concern for the people of that valley. Their night was our day and vice versa.
At night, they would blow upon their pu and it would echo into the valley, causing babies to cry and dogs to bark. Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of sleeping going on at night for everyone because of this racket. The chief of this area, Kiha, offered a reward for anyone who could steal this pu and bring it to him. No one could go unnoticed among the menehune, so everyone thought it was pointless to offer such a reward.
One day, Kiha’s guards came to him and said chief, someone was digging in your awa patch. Thereʻs awa missing. The next night, Kiha asked his guards to keep watch over his garden and they saw a dog digging around in there. This dog was so quick that the guards couldn’t keep up with him, except for one.
One guard followed him all the way back to Puakō where he met with the owner. He told the owner that his dog was stealing the awa of the king. With that, he took the owner and the dog, whose name was Puapualenalena to the king, Kiha. Kiha, of course, was very upset, but offered to spare their lives if Puapualenalena could steal the pu from the menehune. Puapualenalena and his owner agreed to the terms. The master was taken into custody and Puapualenalena was released. It is said that Puapualenalena ran off and while the menehune was asleep, he quickly made his way to the house, grabbed the pu and ran. As he ran, with the pu in his mouth, the wind blew through it, causing it to sound. That sound woke up the menehune who were angry to find that their beloved pu was gone. Puapualenalena returned to the king and gave himt he pu. True to his word, Kiha released Puapualenalena’s master and since that day, that very pu was known as Kiha pū meaning kihaʻs pu. Kihapu was renowned for its wonderful sound. It is said it could call the warriors of the king from any distance when the king caused it to be blown.