Na Upena Lawai'a O Ka Wa Kahiko Ame Ka Lakou Hana / Fishing Nets of Old and Their Uses

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Na Upena Lawai'a O Ka Wa Kahiko Ame Ka Lakou Hana / Fishing Nets of Old and Their Uses

(Written by Z. P. K. Kawaikaumaiikamakaoka‘ōpua.)


Our previous explanations have been of the ku‘u net. Now here is a general rule: if you are the last to arrive at a place where a net is being prepared, and you just stand there and watch everyone else doing the work, and you don't tend to the work yourself but cross your hands behind your back instead, you will be the cause of much cursing and reviling talk. You see, this stance is considered bad luck.

That is the rule of the people of old. The old people get very angry at this. And if you sit and pick up some rocks and tie them to the net, not a single person will come and talk to you.

There are two ways to lay the ku‘u nets, in the day and in the night. The ku‘u net for the day is very different to the one for the night. When using the daytime net, you will say, “let's go ku‘u net fishing;” but at night, the people of old won't say “let's go ku‘u net fishing.” Instead, they say, “tonight let's go swimming”, or,” let's go wandering about”. And when the old folks went during the night, they did not return inland until they had drifted ashore near their homes. They would remain in the sea, swimming, until they arrived at a place that was desirous to land and go ashore.

The man holding onto the fish would have a long line measuring seven fathoms, and the fish would be strung onto it; that is the bag where the fish would be left. You see, no little fish are caught when fishing at night time, only large fish such as the palani, nenue, mū, and all kinds of other large fish.

The only thing this man had to do was to pull along this line with the fish all the way to shore. The people of old were not afraid of sharks; they were no big deal to them. That was the third fishing net for use in shallow seas. Now the fourth net is the ula, or spiny lobster, net. This type of net, used by the people of old, is a short net, not a very tall one like the other nets. It is between an iwilei, [length from fingertip to mid-collarbone], or a muku, [length from fingertip to opposite elbow]. The mesh size is a fingers’ width, and this type of net is placed aboard a canoe to be taken out and released. This type of net is lowered in reefed-in areas that aren't too deep.

Similar to the ku‘u net, rocks are secured to the bottom edge of the net and are placed far apart from each other, with the very large rocks located only at the corners of the bottom edge. Also, there are kāwelewele lines at the end of the top edge of the net securing the buoy sticks.

The purpose of these lines is to maintain the tautness of that net, so that it stands up properly. If there are a great number of lobsters there, they will all be caught in this net. This net is one that requires little effort. Take it out and set it up at night, and when daylight comes, go and pull it up. One man is quite enough to manage this net.                  

(To Be Continued.)



(click image for original Hawaiian text)

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, March 8, 1923
, Book: 62, Number: 10, Page: 3