Hawaiian Legends: Shark-Man, Nanaue

May 17, 2021

Hawaiian Legends: Shark-Man, Nanaue

Ancient Hawaiian mythology speaks of a shark man named, Nanaue born in Waipio Valley. Nanaue was the son of the shark king Kamohoalii and a Hawaiian maiden, named Kalei. One day, Kalei took Nanaue to bathe in a stream and he transformed into the form of a shark, chasing and eating all of the creatures in the stream! From that time, his shark-man deformities were kept a secret by his parents and Kamahoalii instructed Kalei never to feed Nanaue meat as it would cause him to begin to desire human flesh. 

Nanaue could not deny his need to be a shark, as he grew older, he would swim in the ocean and the locals from Waipio would begin to go missing! The people of Waipio Valley started to get suspicious of Nanaue because he had never been harmed while he was in the ocean. They thought he had special powers but didn’t expect him to be the one causing the deaths of their people. Eventually, the villagers discovered Nanaue’s secret and he was forced to swim all the way to Hana, Maui, where he took the form of a man. He tried to resist the urge to eat anyone but one day he killed one of Maui’s own. He escaped once more to the island of Molokai where the people were weary from the stories they had heard. One day, they saw him shapeshifting and so they snared him to stop the killing of their people!

From that day on, the shark man did no harm to the people of Hawai‘i and the people continued with resilience, protecting one another from any harm that came their way.

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