More stories about alalaua, 1873.


Is a beautiful little fish, like the gold fish in form and hue, and now on a visit to our shores, and is attracting the attention of all the native islanders. It only pays occasional visits, at irregular periods, and Hawaiian superstition disaster, usually the demise of a chief of the land. The impressionable kanakas are a little excited over this marine stranger; and in talking about it, they use the expression, weliweli, meaning fearful or startling; and well they may use such expression, in view of the numbers, the schools, the myriads of the alalauwa that literally thicken the water of our harbor.

We went out in a boat with a party, on Friday night to angle for a few. The moon was gorgeous in the heavens, and lined the gently rippled surface of the sea, with silvery pathways; and by her soft effulgence, we beheld the hosts of eager people, with pole and line in hand, that crowded along the edge of wharf and shore, and who in their varied attitudes formed beautiful silhouetts on the sweet calm evening sky.

The pretty little golden and silver tinted carps swarmed around us, and were eager to devour whatever was thrown to them. As quick as the hook and bait could be cast into the water they would bite and be hauled in. Perhaps two thousand busy hands were holding rods and lines over the stream; and along the whole line of wharf and shore, near which we moored our boat, we could observe the numerous burthened hooks, lifting the little captives into the air, and the shimmer of their bright scales, as they danced in the moonlight, pendant on the line, made them seem like a long line of fire flies hovering over the shore.

There were at least two thousand people out with hook and line that night. Some said three thousand, lined the wharves of the harbor and as each caught with unvarying success, it might not be much out of the way to say that the night’s catch was equal to one hundred thousand fishes. But they are mostly very small, varying from an ounce or two in weight, to perhaps half a pound. They make very palatable fry, and what the natives cannot eat fresh, they salt for future use. The arrival of the alalauwa affords great diversion to the natives, but probably affects the meat and fish market a trifle. The superstition about its arrival is spoken of with a great deal of earnestness: and even foreigners like to tell, as confirmatory of the native superstition, how this fish arrived when “the princess” died, and on other occasions. In fact the foreigner is inclined to be just as superstitious as the native, and none of us could get along very well without our credulity. Very likely the alalauwa has slipped into these waters many a time, when no chief died, but it is enough to support our faith to know that they came at times when somebody did die. Some want to satisfy the national credulity at this time without waiting for any especial victim, by saying that the death of the chiefess Jane Loeau accounts for the event; but that won’t do; as the arrival of the fish was not officially announced by anybody on the day of her demise. Some of the kanakas said, as we sat quietly and patiently angling for fish and ideas, that the arrival of the alalauwa forbode the loss of Puuloa,¹ but a more numerous party said no; it was a warning to the parricides, who would try to sell a portion of their native country.

¹Pearl Harbor

(Nuhou, 8/12/1873, p. 1)

Ke Alalauwa

Nuhou, Volume II, Number 9, Page 1. August 12, 1873.

James Pauahi Alohikea and the alalaua, 1917.


In common with a good many other Hawaiians, J. P. Alohikea, the well known harness maker and upholsterer of Lihue, went down to the shore Thursday evening to fish for ala-lau’a.

An experienced fisherman he went to that point on the rocky coast between the outer and inner lighthouse known as Pukaulua, a famous fishing hole, and was sitting there on the edge of the same when an unusually large swell rolled in and swept him off the narrow ledge of rock and into the boiling cauldron.

Thence the receeding surge carried him into the open sea. In the process he was doubtless more or less bruised and mangled so that he was unable to help himself effectively. William Hookano, who was near by, heard his call and tried to reach him with a long fishing rod, but in the fierce surge the bamboo was broken to fragments, and Hookano was warned of the futility of throwing himself into the sea to save his friend.

In the darkness and roar of the surge the unfortunate man was soon lost.

(Garden Island, 9/11/1917, p. 1)


The Garden Island, Volume 13, Number 37, Page 1. September 11, 1917.

More on the alalaua, 1917.


The ancient superstition that visits of red fish in large numbers to the Islands portend the death of some member of the royal family, absurd as it may be, has just had what may be considered by many a remarkable substantiation. A few months ago there started running into and around the harbors of the Islands such schools of alalaua as had not been seen before in five years or more, if not in many years prior to that; and the schools of aweoweo, or grown alalaua, are still here. When the little red fish first started coming in months ago, the older natives shook their heads and declared that one of their aliis must go. It has so turned out. Of course the supposition that there is, or can be, any connection between the two circumstances is ridiculous, but the singular thing to anybody is that the two incidents should have happened together so many times in history, as to create a more or less fixed superstition.

(Maui News, 11/16/1917, p. 4)


The Maui News, Eighteenth Year, Number 923, Page 4. November 16, 1917.

The Queen and the alalaua, 1917.


Following the birthdays of our dearly Beloved Queen, her weakening health was noticed. And we guess that this is the reason for the appearance of the alalaua, like what is usual for this lahui, that when this fish to save the people runs, the Ruler will follow. Aloha for the Chiefs of this Lahui; left is Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, our Chiefly Representative and the Leader of this People.

(Puuhonua, 9/28/1917, p. 4)


Ka Puuhonua, Buke IV, Helu 39, Aoao 4. Sepatemaba 28, 1917.

Big run of alalaua, 1917.


All sorts of people are heading together these days to go pole fishing for alalaua: the piers are full of men, women, and children.

A few days ago is when the run of alalaua began by the piers near the prison of Kawa all the way until those by the mouth of the harbor. Even the haole went alalaua fishing at night, probably just for fun; however, for some, it is a true lifesaver, with the high cost of fish, where they can escape from buying fish [??]. If the alalaua keeps running in Honolulu Harbor, it is clear that the other desired fishes will be in trouble. God is the one who is controlling this, the prodding of this fish into the harbor; it is to alleviate the troubles of the people from the vise of the fish mongers.

All those going pole fishing should give their thanks to the Heavens for this great assistance, and we believe that the Heavenly Father will increase all kinds of fish more than this.

¹Alalaua (also seen as Alalauwa) is the juvenile stage of the Aweoweo.

(Aloha Aina, 9/14/1917, p. 4)


Ke Aloha Aina, Buke XXII, Helu 37, Aoao 4. Sepatemaba 14, 1917.