Famous among our kūpuna for its delicious flavor, this little iʻa (fish) is still found in great abundance on our reefs today. A large school of manini feeding in an area is a beautiful sight - countless yellow-green bodies striped in black, glittering and flashing as they feast on the limu of the reef. At least five stages of this fish were named by our kūpuna (ʻōhua liko, ʻōhua kāniʻo, pala pōhaku, maninini, and manini). Keen observations over many makahiki (years) helped them to invent a myriad of brilliant fishing techniques. One of these was the building of an imu kai (also called an umu kai) - a heap of rocks stacked in a way that manini (and other small fish) could hide inside and over which a net could be easily thrown. Hō ke akamai! (So smart!). The stripes of this beautiful fish inspired someone to nickname it the "convict tang," but we donʻt find them criminal at all. Also identified by the Latin name Acanthurus triostegus, this species occurs throughout Polynesia. Kuʻu imu ahi ʻole o ke kai - My fireless imu of the ocean. This ʻōlelo was inspired by an account of a riddling contest between two men named Okoe and Kamiki. The "imu manini" was one of several kinds of "imu" that Kamiki was challenged to figure out.
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