Kīkākapu | Keiki Tee
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Kīkākapu He māpuna wai ola nā mele i waiho ‘ia mai no kākou, nā mamo a nā haku mele, pa‘a kū‘auhau, pa‘a mo‘olelo, a me nā kāhuna o ke au iō kikilo loa. He ho‘oilina ulumāhiehie wale ho‘i ia. Aia ma lalo he mau lālani no loko mai o kekahi mele e ho‘ohiwahiwa ana i ko Maui ali‘i, nā ‘ohana ho‘i o Pi‘ilani. Ma ua mele nei nō i ho‘ohālikelike ‘ia ai ka uhi o ka lae o kekahi ali‘i (‘o Kihaapi‘ilani nō paha) me ka lau u‘i o ke kino o ke kīkākapu: “He kākau kiko ‘ōni‘o i ka lae, ke kiko o ke kīkākapu, ‘o ka i‘a kapuhilia au ‘awahia.” Ua piha nei mele nani i ka ‘ike kākau uhi. Au aku ka mana‘o i ke kumu o ia mau kaha nani o ka i‘a i ‘ōlelo ‘ia he kiko ‘ōni‘o a he kī‘oki kekahi. Mea maila kekahi hoa, na Kāne mā lāua ‘o Kanaloa i kākau i ke kīkākapu. ‘O Kaukamōlī kahi o kā lāua hana, ma Kukuilamalamahe‘e i Hāmākua. He ui a he nīnau: ‘Ehia i‘a i kākau ‘ia e ke ko‘olua akua? A hua a pane, e nā hoa. ‘O ka hoa like o nei mele, ua ho‘olaha ‘ia ma ka nūpepa Ka Nai Aupuni ma lalo o ka inoa ‘o “ka pule a Kapihe.” Wahi a ka mo‘olelo, i ka wā i hānau ‘ia mai ai ‘o Kauikeaouli, hemo maila ia i waho, ‘a‘ohe hanu. Ki‘i ‘ia akula ke kahuna ‘o Kapihe. I hahau aku kāna hana i ua pule nei, nape ana ka hanu i ka houpo, a ola a‘ela ke keiki a Keōpūolani lāua ‘o Kamehameha, ke keiki ho‘i nāna i ho‘okumu i ke aupuni o kākou.
The name Kīkākapu speaks of a strong and authoritative kapu, a meaning that reflects a very different origin and purpose than the English nickname “threadfin butterfly fish” (known in Latin as Chaetodon auriga). A chant for Maui’s chiefs, handed down from antiquity, shows us this fish was indeed considered kapu and speaks of its beautiful markings (flip for those details in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i). Because of its name, the fish was used by Kaipalaoa, “ke keiki ho‘opāpā”, the youth skilled in the art of intellectual battles that involve quick wit and an elevated understanding of metaphoric and esoteric language. Kaipalaoa goes to Wailua, Kaua‘i to avenge the death of his father, Halepākī, at the hands of the chief Kalaniali‘iloa who is completing a fence of human bones. Kaipalaoa pulls out the “pahu kapu” (the stake defining a sacred boundary) and replaces it with a kīkākapu. This clever act of ho‘opāpā begins their famous battle of wits. The kīkākapu is a common reef fish in the Indo-Pacific region, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea. They mate with a single partner and may defend a territory of up to 300 square feet. They feed on sea worms, anemones, coral polyps, and algae. Aquarium traders love the kīkākapu’s gorgeous markings, but we think humans and the marine world are much better off enjoying this i‘a kapu (sacred fish) in its natural habitat. Nā kī‘oki ‘ōni‘o o ka i‘a kapu - The stripes and streaks of the sacred fish.