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The four Island Kahunas in the anime
An island kahuna (Japanese: しまキング Island King or しまクイーン Island Queen) is a person who presides over a certain island challenge in the Alola region. Island kahunas serve as the final obstacle in that particular island's trial and battle a Trainer in a Grand Trial. There is one kahuna for each of the four main islands of Alola, with each one chosen by that island's guardian deity. In addition to presiding over an island, they are also in charge of tending to their guardian's ruins when necessary and selecting new Trial Captains for their island. Prior to the establishment of the Alolan Pokémon League, a Trainer attempting their island challenge who had finished all of their trials and grand trials was to scale Mount Lanakila and battle all four kahunas in a row in order to become an island challenge champion.
According to Acerola, a person chosen to be an island kahuna cannot refuse the position; in this case, she was referring to Nanu. A kahuna's reign lasts until they die, as was the case with Hapu's grandfather and predecessor, or are forcibly ejected from their position by their respective guardian deity, as was with the case with a former unspecified kahuna who established the gang that Team Skull drew inspiration from. The time in between an island kahuna's exit from their position and the naming of a new one is not always immediate — following the death of Hapu's grandfather, Poni Island was left without a kahuna for several years.
It is unknown how the lack of a kahuna affects the island challenge, specifically the assignment of Trial Captains and the final trial. In Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Poni Island's sole Trial Captain, Mina, says that a kahuna from one of the other islands has to substitute for an island without one in order to allow that island's grand trials to be conducted — a role Nanu had to play prior to Hapu's crowning. However, Mina does not mention who selected her to be a Trial Captain.
List of island kahunas
In the anime
challenging Hala in his first Grand Trial
In the Pokémon anime, defeating the Island Kahunas is a major part of Ash's island challenge. To date, Ash and his classmates have encountered the following Island Kahunas:
- Hala made his debut in To Top a Totem!, where he watched over Ash while he completed the Verdant Cavern trial. In Trial and Tribulation! Ash fought him, won, and received a new Electrium Z after Tapu Koko swapped Hala's Fightinium Z with it.
- Olivia first appeared in person in The Island Whisperer!, where she brought Ash's class to Akala Island. After completing the Lush Jungle trial in Currying Favor and Flavor!, Ash battled Olivia in Trials and Determinations! and won, earning a Rockium Z.
- Nanu's first appearance was in Why Not Give Me a Z-Ring Sometime?, where he gave Team Rocket a Z-Power Ring as thanks for helping Acerola. Ash met him in Tough Guy Trials!, and then battled him in a grand trial in Guiding an Awakening! and won, earning a Lycanium Z as a reward. In the anime, he is an old acquaintance of Giovanni.
- Like the games, Poni Island had no Island Kahuna as of That's Some Spicy Island Research!, when Ash and his classmates arrived to the island to conduct their personal research projects. Hapu first appeared in the same episode. Also like the games, she was not a Kahuna when she was first seen, but her grandfather Sofu was the Island's second-most recent. As revealed in the following episode, Hapu had been training to follow in her grandfather's footsteps, but had not been able to meet Tapu Fini, despite multiple attempts to get in touch with it. In Memories in the Mist!, Tapu Fini accepted Hapu after witnessing her desire to save her friends from its illusory mist, and was officially instated as Poni Island's Kahuna in a ceremony in the next episode. The night after the ritual, Ash battled Hapu in a grand trial and won, earning a Steelium Z, as chosen by Pikachu, as a reward.
In Young Kiawe Had a Farm!, Kiawe's grandfather was mentioned to have been a Kahuna prior to the start of the Sun & Moon series. In That's Some Spicy Island Research!, it is mentioned that the previous Poni Island Kahuna, unrelated to Hapu or her grandfather, had retired due to age and illness.
In The Dealer of Destruction!, the four Island Kahunas were revealed to have agreed with Professor Kukui to act as referees during the first Alola Pokémon League Conference.
- Each kahuna wears an article of clothing of the color that corresponds to their island's name and guardian. Hala's Aloha shirt is yellow, Olivia's shirt is pink, Nanu's undershirt is red, and Hapu's bonnet is purple.
- All island kahunas keep their Pokémon in Ultra Balls.
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