In the 1960s, the day octopus, called heʻe in Hawaiian, was common and plentiful where we lived and fished along the North Kona coast of Hawaiʻi island. My kūpuna (elders) would recognize the heʻe den by the broken crab and snail shells found outside the entrance. Growing up in a fishing family, we were taught to take care of the land (ʻāina) , the ocean (moana) and to respect Kanaloa “ke akua o ka heʻe – god of the octopus.” Our first catch would be returned to the ocean in honor of Kanaloa.
Because the heʻe is a delicacy for Hawaiian families, we followed an unwritten social code called Pono Practice:
Cindi Punihaole is the Project Director for Kahalu`u Bay Education Center
and serves as a cultural advisor on the Kona Coast of Hawaii Island.