Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Humuhumunukunukuapuaa homina homina rowr!

And now, a story about what is quite possibly one of my all-time favorite things to say: the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa fish of Hawaii.

Not familiar with the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa? Would you like to know more about the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa? Can you tell I’m just looking for any excuse I can find to say Humuhumunukunukuapuaa? Oh, all right, fine. I’ll let you in on the fun.

The pronunciation of the word is: HOO-moo-HOO-moo-NOO-koo-NOO-koo-AH-poo-AH-ah. Here, click here and listen to it. OK, now you say it. That’s right. Say it slowly to start. Now, slowly start saying it faster. Great! You’ll be saying it like Bugs Bunny in no time.

Now, beyond this being the weirdest name of a fish you’ve ever seen, this fish actually has quite a pedigree. The Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (or humuhumu, for short) is, in fact, the state fish of Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii has a state fish. Don’t ask me why, they just do. And this is where the story starts, courtesy of The Las Vegas Sun.

You see, back in 1984, the state Legislature asked the University of Hawaii and the Waikiki Aquarium to survey the public and come up with a candidate for the state fish. The humuhumu was swept into the spot in part through the support of school children that learned of the campaign through classroom projects. The humuhumunukunukuapuaa was the clear winner, mainly of its ridiculous name and it’s already kinda looks like a cartoon. Here, take a look:


That’s him. Cute, huh?

I mean, for a fish.

Kinda looks like Adam Ant, doesn't he?

"He's a cute little fish.” admits Chuck Johnston, editor of Hawaii Fishing News. Plus, it’s got personality! “It kind of looks like a pig and it squawks and everything,"

How could you resist?

Believe it or not, some people did not like the idea of the humuhumunukunukuapuaa being named the state fish of Hawaii, and so lawmakers at the time agreed to only make the fish’s designation of State Fish Of Hawaii last for 5 years. After which, they could either choose a new fish or renew the humuhumunukunukuapuaa for another term.

At least, that was the plan.

Remarkably enough, however, everyone in the Legislature totally forgot about the 5 year term of the fish’s reign, (I guess that they had other things to think about) and so, for the last 20 or so years, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa has come to be known as Hawaii’s state fish.

Then, earlier this year, 6-year-old Joel Itomura was doing a report on the fish for school and discovered the obscure rule that showed that the humuhumu was king no more. He reported his findings to State Rep. (and friend of his dad’s) Blake Oshiro.

Sure enough, the debate was now back on about which fish should be the state representative, and believe me, people in Hawaii actually have strong opinions about this.

The main sticking point about the humuhumu? It turns out it can be found other places besides Hawaii!

Remember how you were like ”Hey, why does George Bush say he’s running for president from Texas, when I only ever see him in Kennebunkport, Maine?”?

Well! Imagine if he were a fish!

Shockingly easy, isn’t it?

State Rep. K. Mark Takai said that many of his constituents were in favor of the oopu, a brownish, freshwater gobbie endemic to the islands. Others were for the Pacific Blue Marlin, also known as the ulua. There is no lack of fish species specific to the islands. Thirteen species of wrass alone are found here and nowhere else in the world.

Ah, but herein lies the humuhumunukunukuapuaa’s secret weapon! One advantage that it has over all those other fish is that it’s completely inedible. Picking a popular game fish such as the oopu and the ulua could be a problem if environmentalists push to protect the fish from fishermen. No one wants to eat the humuhumu, as it tastes awful. In fact, Hawaii governor Linda Lingle recently pointed out that the humuhumu has not historically been held in very high regard, having been used by early Hawaiians as fuel for their fires, not their stomachs.

So, our candidate, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, has many of the qualities that makes it ideal to hold the office of State Fish. It has a good public image, name recognition for days, resiliency, and it seems to have ducked the whole residency scandal. But, ultimately, it has the one thing that makes a candidate so difficult to stop from succeeding: incumbency.

"The logical choice is the one that was already selected," Chuck Johnston said. "It has been there. He's been crowned."

Don’t change fishes in mid-stream. Or something like that.


Anonymous Alex said...

Interestingly, I was at one time, going to change my stage name to Humuhumuuhkuapauaa.


2/01/2006 3:52 PM

Anonymous Lilly said...

I can't stop saying it. People think I'm hexing their families. I explain that it's a lot more relaxing than "ohm".

2/02/2006 10:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lilly i get that alot too.... well me and my frends do but yeah i was born o crud by

3/09/2006 5:09 PM


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