Hui Wa'a Kaukahi

Hawaiian & Local Fish Names

any of the shallow-water wrasses; Bodianus bilunulatus
needlefish; Ablennes hians
yellowfin tuna; Thunnus albacares - small ones are known locally as shibi or "footballs"
ahi pahala
albacore tuna; Thunnus alalunga
bluefin or Skipjack tuna Katsuwonus pelamis - small ones are known locally as "rats"
akule (ah-KU-lay)
Bigeye scad, shallow-water subsistance fish, often used for bait
milkfish; Chanos chanos, large herbivorous fish historically grown in fishponds but now seen in nearshore waters
Hawaiian ladyfish; Hawaiian tarpon; Elops hawaiensis; very bony, locally made into fishcake, but a great fighting fish to catch.
hage (HAH-gay) (japanese)
I have no idea... some kind of wrasse, perhaps Iniistius aneitensis ?
kagami (japanese)
Threadfin trevally: one of the jacks marked by two long trailing "feathers"
kahawai (unknown, poss. maori)
Eastern Australian salmon Arripis trutta - not found in Hawaii (yet)
barracuda - delicious fine-texture fish, but older fish can carry ciguatera. Lotsa teeth.
Pacific mackerel or bonito; Little tunny; Euthynnus affinis - similar in appearance to small aku but distinguished by blue-&-black stripes on its back. a.k.a. Black skipjack or Island skipjack, but don't confuse with true skipjack tuna (aku)
kawele'a (kah-vay-LAY-ah)
Heller's barracuda; Sphyraena helleri - a night-hunting type of barracuda, smaller than the kaku
koholã (ko-ho-LAAH)
humpback whale
Leatherback jack, queenfish Scomberoides lysan - very tough skin trad. used for drumheads and now fishing lures
dolphinfish or dorado - (no relation to mammilian dolphins - calm down, okay?); deepwater & pelageic; usu. shortened to just mahi
Sidespot goatfish Parupaneus pleurostigmata or Manybar goatfish P. multifasciatus or even the Goldsaddle goatfish P. cyclostomus , more correctly called moano kea
moano ukali-ulua
Blue goatfish P. cyclostomus same as above, but looks quite different (it's blue!)
nabeta (Japanese)
Peacock wrasse Iniistius pavo
naia (NAH-ee-aah)
Spinner dolphin
nünü (new-new)
trumpetfish Aulostomus chinensis and/or coronetfish - usu. considered a boney trash fish, it can be made into fishcake if you're desperate
o'ama (oh-AHH-mah)
baby Orange goatfish (weke'ula), caught seasonally in island stream mouths and used as baitfish for papio
o'io (oh-EE-oh)
bonefish; like its name implies, only good for fishcake, but possibly the most exciting local fish to catch & fight. - usu. caught in surf zones
(lit: "blue") papio of the bluefin trevally species; has blue fins & blue spots on sides and back, rarely gets over about 12 lbs.
(lit: "delicious") a slim mackeral w/ lotsa teeth; considered by the Hawaiians to be the best-tasting of the pelagic fishes; also known as wahoo in Florida & the Caribbean
(lit: "big belly") spotted blowfish, technically a porcupinefish, but who cares?
Pacific moonfish; pelagic and fairly rare, extremely fine-tasting
Mackerel scad, sold frozen as a 6 -8 inch baitfish, used for mahi & other offshore fish.
palaoa (pah-lah-OH-ah)
sperm whale. Also used to mean ivory made from their teeth, very valuable to ancient Hawaiians
papio (pah-PEE-o)
any young fish of the trevally or jack family; a trevally caught inshore and/or weighs less than 10 lbs.; a major local food fish.
papio 'aukea (pah-PEE-oh ow-KAY-ah)
(lit: white papio) a papio of the Giant trevally (G.T.) specie
hawkfish, usu. the Forster's hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri)
roi (Japanese)
peacock grouper, unfortunately becoming a vector for ciguatera toxin on all Islands; (Cephalophilois argus); introduced from Indian Ocean.
shibi (Japanese)
immature ahi or yellowfin tuna
ta'ape (tah-AH-pay) (tahitian)
Bluestripe snapper Lutjanus kasmira (locally called the Tahitian snapper) originally introduced from the Marquesas as a food fish, has now become a bit of a pest
table boss (english)
Hawaiian hogfish - in the wrasse family, but better-tasting than the herbivorous parrotfish
parrotfish - never caught on a line, (they're herbivores)
grey snapper; green jobfish (yuk! Who calls it that?!) (Aprions virescens)
any mature fish of the trevally or jack family; a papio weighing over 10 lbs
ulua aukea
White ulua; Giant trevally (GT). Largest of the jacks, the most important of the local shoreline sportfish; mature aukea are often 130 lbs or more
wahanui (VAH-ha-NEW-ee)
(lit: "big mouth") Forktail snapper, another "jobfish"; an introduced nearshore food fish found on Molokai, Maui and Big Island - a particularly good-eating small fish (2 - 3 lbs) that is now a major vector for the ciguatera toxin; (Aphareus furca)
wahoo (like you sound when you catch one)
a mackeral with lotsa teeth; also known as ono. Named after the island of Oahu by the first American sailors who caught it here.
weke'ula (vay-kay-OO-lah)
Orange goatfish, often shortened to weke

Local Food Names & Misc. Hawaiian Words

'ape (AH-pay)
A large-leaf plant that superficiously looks very much like taro, but has a noxious sap
'avapuhi or 'awapuhi (AH-vah-POOH-hee)
yellow ginger
ceviche (Mexico) (say-VEE-chay)
raw fish "cooked" in lime juice and mixed with onions, tomatoes and other veggies. See also poisson cru
hale (HAH-lay)
hall; any official building; a large house; also, a canoe shed, either modern or traditional
hana pa'a! (HAH-nah PAH-ah)
(lit: hard work!) exclamation meaning you've just hooked up to a big fish, and you're going to be busy for a while...
haole (how-lay)
caucasian person, often used as a perjorative; often mispronounced hauli
heiau (HEY-ee-ow)
"temple" or structured area of traditional worship, usu. incl. stone terraces; often extended to mean any "sacred" ruins
sea turtle
hui (HUU-ee)
a group , club, cartel or other association
(lit: to turn) to roll over; capsize
(lit: to turn many times) smoked meat, usu. chicken; rotisserie chicken
ika (Japanese)(ee-kah)
small inshore squid; bought frozen as bait for papio, also dried, shredded and spiced as a local (Japanese-derived) snack
'iwa (EE-vah)
kaukahi (kow-KAH-hee)
alone; by oneself; also: a one-person canoe.
kaulua (kow-LU-ah)
a two-person canoe (see above)
keawe (kay-AH-vay)
mesquite tree (intr. from Mexico), common in shoreline campgrounds, drops frightenly long and sharp thorns all over
limu (LEE-mu)
technically, it's any kind of alga (even pond scum), but usually used to mean various seaweeds used as a condiment in Haw'n food like poke.
maika'i (my-KAH-ee)
well-being; health; righteousness
makai (mah-KAH-ee, mah-KAI)
towards the sea; also downhill
mauka (mah-OO-kah)
towards the land; also uphill
poisson cru (French) (PWA-sahn crew)
a Tahitian version of ceviche that includes coconut milk
puka (POOH-kah)
lit.: hole; gap; cave entrance
really unfortunate name, but it means tasty finger-food eaten before or instead of a regular meal. Kayakers live on this stuff...
poke (PO-kay)
raw fish mixed with various flavorings like onions, soy sauce, limu (seaweed), sesame seeds, chile peppers, etc. A uniquely Hawaiian delicacy. Often mispronounced poki.
Is there really anyone left in America who doesn't know what this is? Okay, it's raw fish slices usu. served with wasabi and shoyu, best consumed within minutes of catching the fish!
tako (Japanese)
small reef octopus, small ones are sold as bait for trolling, larger ones (can reach 5 lbs or more) usu. made into a chewy poke. Often erroneosly called "squid" by locals, but don't confuse with ika
wa'a (VAH-ah)
canoe, watercraft; or in our case used to mean a paddled boat.
wasabi (japanese)
very strong Japanese green horseradish, mixed with shoyu (soy sauce) as a dip for sashimi

Information compiled by Rusty Lillico; Fish information gleaned from John Hoover's books "Hawaii's Fishes" (1993) and "The Ultimate Guide To Hawaiian Reef Fishes" (2008), both from Mutual Press, Honolulu; Hawaiian language words taken from the "Hawaiian Dictionary" (1991) by Mary Kawena Pukui & Samuel H. Elbert, published by Univ. of Hawaii Press.