Ka’ahu Pahau

Ka’ahu Pahau

Queen Shark of Oahu

Also known as: Ka’ahupahau; Ka-ahu-pa-hau

Origin: Hawaii

Ka’ahu Pahau is a shark goddess who protects people from sharks. Her empathy for people may derive from her own human ancestry. Ka’ahu Pahau and her brother, Ka-hi’i-uka were born red-headed humans. In traditional Hawaiian cosmology, their red hair indicates spirit ancestry or connections: Pelé is the most famous red headed Hawaiian spirit. Another shark deity transformed the sister and brother into sharks but they still maintain allegiance and warm feelings toward humans.

Ka’ahu Pahau guards the entrance to Pearl Harbor sending menacing sharks on their way. She is the guardian spirit of Oahu and specifically Ewa Beach. Pearl Harbor’s name is no romantic affectation: until the late 19th century, it was full of oyster ponds, providing sustenance (and the occasional pearl!) for the local population. The ability to access the oyster beds without undue fear of sharks was crucial.

In 1884, a treaty allowed the United States exclusive rights and access to Pearl Harbor. In 1913, drydocks, then under construction but almost done, completely collapsed. No scientific explanation or natural causes were ever found for the accident, despite an extensive one-year investigation. Explanations by local people that the drydocks were blocking Ka’ahu Pahau’s access to her undersea cave and that she had caused the collapse were dismissed as superstition however the dry docks were finally completed in April 1919 only after a kahuna (traditional Hawaiian priest or shaman) performed rituals of propitiation to the shark goddess.

Invoke Ka’ahu Pahau’s blessings if you’re afraid of sharks.

Manifestations: Woman with red hair; shark; mermaid

Home: She lives in a submerged cave in Pearl Harbor (Pu’u loa in Hawaiian).

Offerings: Food; flower leis; shark toys

See also: Kanekua’ana; Kihawahine; Pelé

Judika Illes
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.