"The Legend of 'Ai'ai" Discussion
One of the greatest inventions in ancient Hawai'i was the loko i'a (Hawaiian fishpond). As mentioned throughout this legend, Kū'ula, 'Ai'ai's father, built the first traditional loko i'a. Only herbivorous (plant-eating) fish were raised in most loko i'a so that none of the fish were preyed upon and eaten by other carnivorous (meat-eating) fish. The fish fed on limu (algae) that grew naturally within the pond and lawai'a rarely if ever had to supply the fish with extra food. Since the fish lived on limu and did not have to worry about predators they grew very fat and accumulated more protein in their bodies; fish raised in loko i'a were believed to accumulate much more protein than fish from the open ocean.
As you will see in the legend of Kū'ula and Kahaloa, fishing and religion went hand-in-hand. Lawai'a always presented the first fish they caught to the akua. One type of ko'a (fishing shrine) used was called Kū'ula, which Kū'ula himself created. Lawai'a followed strict religious practices and were cautious to follow those practices before, during, and after fishing. In "The Legend of 'Ai'ai," 'Ai'ai prayed while waiting to hook the puhi, thus enforcing the belief that fish were caught only because one prayed to the akua and the akua ultimately allowed the catch.
Finally, after the puhi was pulled to shore at Leho'ula, both communities joined in the big feast. After a fishing expedition, the entire catch was always distributed to everyone involved in the fishing practice and then the rest of the community could take what they needed to feed their families. In this way, the catch was fairly divided and nothing was wasted. Lawai'a did not have to fish as often because one large catch went a long way and fed many people.