Hawai’i Kahu Manō- Guardians of the Shark

A Documentary Film by Shark Stewards

Of manō and kanaka, sharks and humans, bonded by blood, spirit and love. *


A story of sharks and adventure, this short documentary follows two young woman from Hawai’i, exploring the world of sharks and traditional Hawiiian shark and reef conservation. Shot in Hawai’i, the film follows our young free-divers experience the world of Hawaiian sharks and coral reef life. Along the way they experience the depth of the Hawaiian cultural connection to sharks and marine management through the Kahu Manō (shark guardians), cultural leader and traditional fisheries manager Kumu Ka’imi Kaupiko and Hawaiian Kumu and heir to the shark deity Kamohoali’i name, Micah Kamohoali’i.

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Picture: Oceanic Whitetip sharks are critically endangered and are a major focus of our global conservation campaign

Taira and Alyssa explore coral reefs and join the film team learning about sharks- including the most endangered species of large shark: the oceanic whitetip shark. Along their journey they learn the challenges sharks face to survive, and how traditional Hawaiian knowledge is working to protect sharks and the reefs they live on. The story is one of reverence, wisdom, and hope for endangered sharks, particularly critically endangered oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks, and how these sharks can be saved.


Kumu Micah Kamohoali’i, the bearer of the family name of the Hawaiian god of sharks, connect us to sharks through his cultural knowledge and sharks as his family ‘Aumakua (guardians, or ancestral spirits).

With Hawaiian leader Kumu Ka’imi Kaupiko, we learn about the connection between the land and the sea and how, with pono and malama (wisdom and care, protection and preservation), local communities can protect sharks and restore fish and reefs through Community-Based Fisheries Management Areas.

Support the 2024 keiki youth camp and the Kalinihale.org Ohana in south Kona.

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Narrated and performing the Pele-Kamohoali’i chant written by Kumu Kawika Alfiche and perormed by famed Kumu Hula Mahealani Uchiyama, this film is a story of adventure and hope, and how the rest of the world can learn from the connection to sharks and leadership practiced by Hawai’i, and follow the example set by Hawaiians to protect sharks and reefs.

Kumu With Dancers Credit Louis

“Ka huaka`i i mai kahiki mai “ The voyage from kahiki

Ka mano`au wa`a me ka māno wai “The fleet of wa`a carried the source of life

Kamohoali`i ka manō Kamohoali`i ” The shark (hope) Kamohoali`i ke akua e.”

Part of the opening chant by Kumu David Alfiche, performed by Kumu Mahealani Uchiyama

Kumu Hula Mahealani Uchiyama,, founder of Halua Ka Ua Ua Tuhine with original chant, narration and music in Kahu Manō.


This hopeful story of marine protection will be used to advocate for the complete protection of critically endangered oceanic whitetip sharks and other select shark species at fisheries managers and government meetings. Through screenings and a digital media campaign, the film will be used to build public support by adding increased shark protection in commercial fisheries throughout the eastern subtropical Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. We will also develop Congressional and public support for the Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Sanctuary (in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), a cultural and marine protected area currently under consideration by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for Sanctuary designation by the US Congress in 2024. 

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Kumu Micah Kāmohoaliʻi bears the family name of the shark god, and Kumu Hula featured in the film


Native Hawaiians have a deep reverence for sharks, and some consider sharks their ‘Aumakua, a kind of family deity or guardian spirit who may appear in the form of a living shark. This connection between Hawaiians and sharks has led to important shark fishing protection and conservation that sets an example for shark protection across the Pacific. Hawaii was the first US state to ban the sale of shark fin- now illegal in the entire USA, and the only state in the country that bans commercial and recreational shark fishing. Kahu Manō are the guardians and lead the way for global shark protection.

Kumu Micah Imterview

Kumu Ka’imi Kaupiko is a 7th generation local Hawaiian, educator and traditional fisheries manager.

We have established a Shark Stewards chapter in Kona, Hawaii, engaging youth and local community in education and beach cleanups, contributing to a community-science shark study, and building strong partnerships in shark protection with a focus around critically endangered oceanic whitetip sharks. We hope to share this story of conservation success, cultural connection, as a shining example of shark conservation that can be applied towards shark protection in other regions of the world.

Alyssa Rises

Hawaiian born freediver Alyssa Rodrigues, seeks sharks in the film Kahu Manō

Hoʻōla Manō Me ka Naʻauao, With Wisdom We Save Sharks

The film will be used to support change in longlining fishing gear at Regional Fisheries Mangement Organizations (RFMOS) around the world to reduce bycatch of sharks. Starting in Hawai’i, wire leaders on tuna longline boats have been swapped out for “bitable” monofilament, effectively allowing oceanic whitetip, silky and other endangered non-target sharks to release themselves and survive. This gear was approved by the West Pacific Fisheries Management Council in December 2023. Our next phase is to change regulations for the Eastern Pacific at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in 2024, and onto the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Atlantic Ocean fisheries.

Taira Intervie

Taira Aoki, Kona Surfer, Student and Ocean Explorer

Goals and Deliverables


The major goal of this project is to use the film and associated media campaign to demonstrate how communities and culture can create enduring shark and habitat protection elsewhere in the world. The film will be used to create a persuasive argument to protect the most critically endangered sharks and rays through advocacy at large regional fisheries management organizations and international trade conventions.

We will screen the film to leverage shark awareness about the global wildlife trade at meetings, film festivals and on broadcast media, and for use at venues where decision making occurs e.g. the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York, June 8, 2024, and international and multi-national fishing decision making conferences. Following a film festival run and targeted screenings at fisheries meetings, we hope the film will be picked up for broader distribution.


The major goals of this project are:

  • To produce a 24 minute film that will be used to raise awareness, and to advocate for bycatch reduction of oceanic sharks and rays through gear changes in 2024;
  • To host an endangered shark conservation forum in Central America;
  • Screen at World Oceans Day June 8, 2024, to advocate for increased CITES status for Oceanic Whitetip Sharks and Great Hammerhead Sharks;
  • To support zero-landing policies for endangered oceanic whitetip sharks, silky sharks and hammerhead sharks in the Eastern Pacific at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in May 2024;
  • To develop a toolkit with stories, media, and social media supporting our advocacy campaign, and use the film to advocate for increased shark and marine protection in other regions of the world;
  • To catalyse a connection to sharks that will lead to increased global shark and marine protection.


  • The Polynesian Family System in Ka’ū Hawaii, E. S. Craighill Handy, Mary Abigail Kawenaʻulaokalaniahiʻiakaikapoliopele Naleilehuaapele Wiggin Pukui
  • Ōlelo Noʻeau Mary Abigail Kawenaʻulaokalaniahiʻiakaikapoliopele Naleilehuaapele Wiggin Pukui
  • The ‘Aumakua, Hawaiian Ancestral Spirits by Herb Kawainui Kāne
  • *Hawaiian Legends of the Guardian Spirits, Caren Loebel-Fried