Oral History Interview: Thelma Genevieve Parish

Thelma Genevieve Parish, a.k.a. Sister Parish, was born in 1918. She descended from prominent families in the history of Hawai‘i, and shared generational ties to the ‘ili of Pu‘uloa in Honouliuli Ahupua‘a. She was educated as an anthropologist, and became a Catholic nun serving for 50 years as a teacher and school administrator with the Order of Sacred Hearts. Sister Parish was a lifelong student of history and until her passing in 2004, she was working on a manuscript of Hawaiian history. Unfortunately her work has been left incomplete.

A Hawaiian Tradition of Keliikau o Kau

Keli‘ikau-o-Ka‘ū was a shark god who traveled to Pu‘uloa, ‘Ewa from the island of Hawai‘i. The tradition, entitled “He Moolelo Kaao Hawaii no Keliikau o Kau,” appears only in the short-run Hawaiian-language newspaper Home Rula Repubalika and is incomplete. The narratives are also different in relationship to the events and their outcome, than those found in more widely reported narratives. There is no specific reference to the source of the account, and only two articles in the series are available.

The Swimming Trails of Pu‘uloa Are the Trails Traveled by Ka‘ahupāhau

In 1870, native historian S. M. Kamakau wrote about several practices and beliefs pertaining to manō, sharks, in ancient life. One practice of note in the Pu‘uloa region was the practice of transforming deceased family members into manō as ‘aumakua. These family ‘aumakua would help relatives when in danger on the sea—if a canoe capsized or a man-eating shark was threatening attack.