Crew Profile

A Lure of the Past

By ʻOiwi TV 

It’s hard to just go out and look at the beauty of the islands and look at the beauty of the culture. You need to participate.

“What we have here are some samples of various types of hooks but also the pahiapu, the lure that is from the honu (turtle). Kekaimalu and the others are going to try to use in the next voyage,” said well-known carver Umi Kai.

“I remember talking to ʻōlohe about carving, and he asked me what kind of stuff I had. And some of the material I had was mother of pearl. And he suggested that I make pahiapu for fishing. Fast forward to recent times, for my leg of the voyage being one of the fishermen, I decided that I would like to try and fish with traditional methods. The modern way of fishing, we have all of these different heads and skirts. But I knew that our kūpuna had their own way of doing it, which was sustainable. So with the theme of the voyage, I wanted to attempt to make lures that will be low-impact on the environment. So this was a thought that we had to try and move away from those synthetic materials and try to use natural material,” said crewmember Kekaimalu Lee.

“This one happens to be made out of the pā shell with a bone tip and hau cordage. This was hand-spun hau cordage. And of course the bristle off of the back of the puaʻa (boar). This is the stabilizer so stops it from spinning. What we know, these are the traditional designs from kahiko (ancient) days prior to contact. And it was used quite a bit,” said Umi.

“He has been very gracious with his time and come down on his lunch breaks to help teach. So working with him has been a real pleasure, a real privilege. Mine is coming along very well thanks to ʻōlohe’s help. We got the hook part lashed on, and we’re going to finish this by whipping it to add some extra strength. I also have to do a little sanding and buffing to make it come out and really shine. That shine is going to attract the fish,” said Kekaimalu.

“It took generations and generations of careful observation to actually come with a design that is effective. It’s important that they go ahead and try the kahiko designs, but also traditions in trying to catch the fish and also the method in which it is made because it perpetuates a culture. It perpetuates a frame of mind that allows you to continue your experience and your love for the culture. It’s hard to just go out and look at the beauty of the islands and look at the beauty of the culture. You need to participate. And if you don’t participate, to me it’s just superficial,” said Umi.

“We are hoping that we will catch fish using these that are able to sustain us for this voyage. But that first fish will be the goal. So if we can just get one, I’ll be really happy,” said Kekaimalu.


Continue to follow the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, by visiting us online and joining our global movement towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

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