Informant: “So there are these things called aumakuas–which are like a Hawaiian cultural belief– and so your family can have like a spiritual connection to a certain animal and usually it is something to do with your family’s professions. So if you’re a fisherman or your father or your husband or people throughout your lineage were fishermen,  then you’re aumakua could be something like a fish, it could be a turtle, it could be a shark and stuff like that. But basically when your family member passes away, you do a ceremony to bury their bones and then their spirit takes a form of this animal that they have a connection to. As a person, you aren’t supposed to harm this animal because it’s part of your family. And usually you will see it very often, and those are your ancestors in their animal form visiting and protecting you. \

Me: “So how do you figure out what your aumakua is?”

Informant: “I think you just have to–”

Me: “Do you ask your parents? Is it the same one as your parents”

Informant: “Yes, so it’s the same throughout your entire lineage and Hawaiian language was an oral language so it wasn’t written down so everything was passed down through words which is how it was passed down”

Me: “So what is yours?”

Informant: “Mine is a fish I think, but it’s only like one specific type, but I completely forget the name of it”


Age: 19

From: Oahu, HI

The informant says that everyone in Hawaii that is a native has an aumakua and it is an extremely personal thing. The informant heard her aumakua at a really young age. She said probably 4 or 5 from her parents. She and the other natives take this very seriously and if they see their aumakua, then they take it as a sign which can be good or bad depending on the situation. She also said when you see your aumakua, it gives you some type of feeling– it could be relief, or it could be telling you not to do something you were planning on doing.


I think this is very interesting because a lot of people, even not from Hawaii, believe that the family members that have passed turn into animal forms such as butterflies or other things. Based on that, this idea is not really that foreign to me, but I like how their whole family tree has the same one. I remember a time I visited Hawaii and my friends and I were all meeting up, but on the way, one of our friends saw his aumakua and turned around to go back home. This is taken very seriously in Hawaiian culture and can determine a lot of things in life. I wish I would have asked the informant what happens when two people with different aumakuas get married–which aumakua are the kids taking?