This is the Hawaiian name for the wedgetail triggerfish or picasso triggerfish. It’s also the state fish of Hawaii.
Back in 1984, the legislature decided an official state fish was needed and public input was sought. Eight species made the shortlist to be voted on by the people. Not surprisingly, those of a serious bent thought one of Hawaii’s endemic species should get the nod and lobbied accordingly. But kids liked the humuhumu-nukunuku-ā-pua-a, which gets a line in the song ‘My little grass shack,’ and children’s hula groups, dancing to this song, won people over. It netted nearly twice as many votes as the runner up.
An attempt to ‘Boaty McBoatface’ the result failed and the humuhumu-nukunuku-ā-pua-a was ultimately confirmed as state fish.
In my attempts to identify what I see in the water, I use John P. Hoover’s book The Ultimate Guide to Hawaiian Reef Fishes, Sea Turtles, Dolphins, Whales, and Seals. His website is hawaiisfishes.com.
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Now that is a beautiful fish. Somehow appropriate that the state fish should have an especially long Hawaiian name.