Hawaiian Folklore


Why birds can be seen:

Long ago birds were invisible. Men could hear the whir of their wings and listen to their songs, but the birds themselves no one could see - no one, except Mau'i. One day a visitor came from another island and challenged Maui to a boasting contest. A crowd gathered and listened with delight as each man boasted of his island—its mountains, waterfalls, and forests.

"I must win!" thought Mau'i, and aloud he said, "I'll prove to you that we have something here that you have never dreamed of." Secretly he called the birds. They lighted all about on trees and bushes and filled the air with song. The boastful visitor was silent while the crowd listened in wonder. "Spirits!" they whispered. At last, using his mighty power, Mau'i caused them all to see the little feathered singers.

The boastful man exclaimed, "O Mau'i, you have won! In my island there is no such wonder."

Ever since that day birds may be seen as well as heard.

Source: Hawai`i Resource Library

The Legend of Black Rock, Maui

Long ago, a beautiful young princess came to the island of maui in search of the most powerful Kahuna. She was being pursued by three evil suitors and was desperate to flee. The Kahuna had taken pity on the young princess and her parents and had turned them into the West Maui Mountains. Two of the suitors were transformed into a place called Napili. The most evil suitor became Pu'u Keka'a or what is now called, Black Rock. Standing only to gaze upon her knowing she would never be his.

Source:  http://www.mauigateway.com/~rw/myths1.htm

How heiau can be built in one night:

The Menehunes are credited with the construction of numerous heiaus (ancient temples) in various parts of the islands.

The heiau of Mookini, near Honoipu, Kohala, is I pointed out as an instance of their marvellous work. The place selected for the site of the temple was on a grassy plain. The stones in the nearest neighborhood were for some reason not deemed suitable for the work, so those of Pololu Valley, distant some twelve miles, were selected. Tradition says the Menehunes were placed in a line covering the entire distance from Pololu to Honoipu, whereby the stones were passed from hand to hand for the entire work. Work was begun at the quiet of night, and at cock-crow in the morning it was finished. Thus in one night the heiau of Mookini was built.

Another temple of their erection was at Pepeekeo, Hilo, the peculiarity of the work being that the stones had been brought together by the residents of that part of the district, by direction of the chief, but that in one night, the Menehunes gathered together and built it. The chief and his people were surprised on coming the next morning to resume their labors, to find the heiau completed.

There stands on the pali of Waikolu, near Kalaupapa, Molokai, a heiau that Hawaiians believe to have been constructed by no one else than the Menehunes. It is on the top of a ledge in the face of a perpendicular cliff, with a continuous inaccessible cliff behind it reaching hundreds of feet above. No one has ever been able to reach it either from above or from below; and the marvel is how the material, which appears to be seashore stones, was put in place.

Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hft/hft13.htm

How Wailuku, Mau'i, got its name:

The Battle of the Owls (Pu'eo)

A wahine (woman) of Maui searching for food found an egg filled nest. "Duck eggs!" she cried joyfully, laying the eggs in her gourd and taking them home.

"What have you there?" her husband asked. .."Owl eggs!" he shouted in disgust. 'They are not good to eat. Why did you bring them home?"

From a nearby tree a voice called, "Those eggs are mine. Oh please give them back!" There sat a mother owl blinking in the light.

"How do you know these are your eggs?" the man asked, his voice hard. "I came home to my nest and it was empty. I saw this woman carrying eggs and followed her. Oh let me take them back that I may hatch them!"

"How many eggs did you have?" asked the man. "Seven," the owl told him. 'yes, there are seven here," the woman said. 'These eggs must be hers. Let me take them back to her nest. I should not have taken owl eggs."

The husband only laughed a cruel laugh. Picking up one of the eggs he threw it at the wall. 'There is one!" he teased the owl. 'Take it if you like. And here's another!" One by one he threw every egg against the stones, smashing the shell and staining the stones with yellow. "Now you have them all!" he laughed and led his wife away.

The mother owl wept, thinking about the baby owls she'd expected to hatch. She gathered up the bits of shell and flew back to her empty nest. There her mate met her. "Why do you weep?" he asked. "For our eggs," she told him. "Only these bits of shell are left."

"What happened?" "A man did this—a cruel man. One by one he threw our eggs against the stones and smashed them, every one, then laughed and told me I could have them all." Her mate was very angry. "Cruel man!" he shouted. "We shall punish him!"

"What can two owls do against a man?" Two owls? Four hundred owls! Four thousand owls! Fly to the west and tell all owls of this cruel deed. I shall fly to Hawai'i. Let us gather the owls of every island to our aid."

The owls of every island came. Those of Ni'ihau and Kaua'i met the owls of O'ahu. Flying together in a great flock they joined the owls of Moloka'i, Lana'i and Kaho'olawe. When they were united with flocks from Hawai'i and from Mau'i their numbers filled the sky and shut out the sun's light. A fierce battle followed.

The cruel man was punished and the battle place still bears the name Wailuku, Mau'i, water-of-killing.

Source: Hawai`i Resource Library

The Humuhumunukunukuapua'a

A long time ago on the Island of Oahu, lived a powerful king whose son was named Kama Pua'a. This child was difficult, to say the least. He was always chasing away his father's livestock and tearing up the royal taro patches. His father swore that if he ever caught him, he would kill him. To save himself, Kama Pua'a fled Oahu and moved to Maui and married Madame Pele, the fiery goddess. They were in love and soon had a son.

A sad event occurred; the son died. Madame Pele, as fiery as she was, went into a rage and started chasing Kama Pua'a. To escape, he started running down the slopes of Haleakala, towards the sea. When he did this, he turned into a giant hog. With Madame Pele gaining, Kama Pua'a called to his grandmother on Oahu, "Grandma, Grandma,what should I do?"

His grandmother answered his call, "Leap into the ocean and you shall save yourself." When he got to the bottom at Pa'uwela, he leaped into the ocean and changed into a fish. This ended his emotional experience with Madame Pele. Thus Pa'uwela, which means "calming of emotions", was named. The fish that Kama Pua'a turned into was a Humuhumunukunukuapua'a; a fish with a pig snout. And today,that fish is the Hawaiian state fish.

Source:  http://www.mauigateway.com/~rw/myths1.htm

How the auwai (watercourse) at Kikiaola, Kaua`i, was built:

Pi was an ordinary man living in Waimea, Kauai, who wanted to construct a mano, or dam, across the Waimea River and a watercourse therefrom to a point near Kikiaola. Having settled upon the best locations for his proposed work, he went up to the mountains and ordered all the Menehunes that were living near Puukapele to prepare stones for the dam and watercourse. The Menehunes were portioned off for the work; some to gather stones, and others to cut them. All the material was ready in no time (manawa ole), and Pi settled upon the night when the work was to be done. When the time came he went to the point where the dam was to be built, and waited. At the dead of night he heard the noise and hum of the voices of the Menehunes on their way to Kikiaola, each of whom was carrying a stone. The dam was duly constructed, every stone fitting in its proper place, and the stone auwai, or watercourse, also laid around the bend of Kikiaola. Before the break of day the work was completed, and the water of the Waimea River was turned by the dam into the watercourse on the flat lands of Waimea.

When the work was finished Pi served out food for the Menehunes, which consisted of shrimps (opae), this being the only kind to be had in sufficient quantity to supply each with a fish to himself. They were well supplied and satisfied, and at dawn returned to the mountains of Puukapele rejoicing, and the hum of their voices gave rise to the saying, "Wawa ka Menehune i Puukapele, ma Kauai, puoho ka manu o ka loko o Kawainui ma Koolaupoko, Oahu"--the hum of the voices of the Menehunes at Puukapele, Kauai, startled the birds of the pond of Kawainui, at Koolaupoko, Oahu.

The auwai, or watercourse, of Pi is still to be seen at Kikiaola.

Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hft/hft13.htm

Night marchers

According to Hawaiian legend, night marchers (huaka‘i po in Hawaiian) are ghosts of ancient warriors. They supposedly roam large sections of the island chain, and can be seen by groups of torches. They can usually be found in areas that were once large battlefields (the Nu`uanu Pali on the island of Oahu is a good example.) Legend has it that if you look a night marcher straight in the eye, you will disappear, never to be seen again. Hawaiians say that in the presence of night marchers, one should lie down on their stomach, face down to avoid eye contact. Moanalua Gardens is one of the many places the Night Marchers are said to roam.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folklore_in_Hawaii

The Story of Maui

Eons ago, there was born the Demigod Maui. His father was the holder of the heavens and his mother was the guardian of the path to the Netherworld. Maui was the only one of the children who possessed the powers of magic and miracles.

Maui was the smallest of the family. He had the quickest of mind and had an extremely rascally nature about him. Maui would take any advantage of both his friends and the gods in his quest to fulfill his schemes.

It is said that Maui was not a god fisherman. His brothers were much more skilled. They would often laugh at him for his poor success. In revenge, Maui used his cunning to fill his boat with catch at his brothers expense. Maui would position his boat so that when one of his brothers began to pull in a fish, he would distract them so that he could pull his line across theirs stealing their fish.

Maui's brothers could only marvel at their younger brother. However they soon caught on and refused to take him fishing with them. Maui's fortune turned against him. His mother then sent him to his father to obtain a magic hook.

"Go to your father. There you will receive the hook called Manaiakalani, the hook fastened to the heavens. When the hook catches land, it will raise the old seas together."

Maui returned with his hook. He joined his brothers in another fishing expedition. They jeered him and threw him out of the boat. When they returned, they were empty handed. Maui berated them. He stated that if they had allowed him to join them, they would have had better success. The brothers decided to allow him to join them in their canoe for another chance.

They paddled far into the deep ocean and threw their lines overboard. To their dismay, they only caught sharks. The brothers ridiculed Maui asking "Where are the fish you promised?"

Maui then rose and threw his magical hook into the ocean. Chanting a spell of power, he commanded the hook to catch the Great Fish.

At once the sea began to move. Great waves rose around the canoe. Maui commanded his brothers to paddle with all their might and to not look back. For two days, Maui held taut the magic line and hook while his brothers kept paddling furiously. Suddenly from below the depths arose the tops of great mountains in a series of peaks that broke the surface of the ocean. Maui reminded his brothers to keep paddling mightily. Maui pulled mightily against the line and forced the peaks even farther out of the water.

One of his brothers then broke the command and gazed back in awe at the sight of the rising land. He stopped paddling and quickly the magic line began to slacken in Maui's hands. Before he could call out to his brothers, the line snapped and the magic hook was lost forever beneath the sea.

Maui chastised his brothers for their failure to paddle as he had commanded. "I had endeavored to raise a great continent but because of your weakness I have only these islands to show for all my efforts."

And this is how the Islands of Hawai'i came to be...

Source:  http://www.mauigateway.com/~rw/myths1.htm

Why rainbows are red:

Mau'i went to Waipio valley on he Big Island of Hawai'i where the Gods Kane and Kanaloa are having a party roasting bananas. Mau'i tried to steal the bananas and had his brains bashed in. The red colors of the rainbow were formed by Mau'i's blood.

Source: Hawai`i Resource Library

Menehune FAQs:

The mythology of the Menehune is as old as the beginnings of Polynesian history. Some say that the great god Maui himself, was one of the tiny creatures. When the first Polynesians arrived in Hawaii, they found dams, fish-ponds, and even Heiau (temples), all presumably built by the Menehune who were already there, living in caves.

The creatures are said to be about two feet high, although some have been seen as small as six inches, capable of fitting in the palm of someone's hand. They are always naked, but the long straight hair that falls to their knees keeps them warm and discreet. Apparently no two of them are the same, and they can be so moody as to be malicious and dangerous one day, and simply harmless the next. But they are always tricky, and therefore should be avoided, unless a special favor is absolutely needed of them.

In the old times, some Hawaiians married Menehune girls, who were said to be quite fair, but needed to be shown how to make a fire and eat cooked food, because their own diet consisted only of starchy raw vegetables. The services of Menehune expert builders and craftsmen can be requested. This is especially so, if you can trace your family tree back to one of them. They then act like benevolent godparents. Many a major project, such as the preparation of a wedding feast, has been completed in a single night by the super strong little gods, while all humans slept.

Menehune are afraid of owls. On the island of Kauai, the Menehune sometimes sneak in among the people there and pull too many tricks. That is when the owl god of Paupueo (owl hill) summons all the owls of Kauai to chase the Menehune back into the forest.

The little ones are fond of dancing, and singing, and of sports, such as shooting arrows. Sometimes they use magic arrows, to pierce the heart of angry persons, and make them feel love instead. They also truly enjoy diving off cliffs into the surf. If you hear splashes in the night at Ka`anapali, it is possibly a Menehune diving off Black Rock! But you would have to move impossibly quick to ever see one.

Source:  http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/menehune.html 

Kana, the Giant of Kohala

There once lived a strong warrior named Kana who had supernatural powers. On the Big Island in Kohala is where Kana lived. Kana was so tall that he could walk through the ocean from one island to another. Since he was so tall, he could even put one foot on O'ahu and the other foot on Kaua'i which were islands that were at least ninety miles away.

Oro, a god of vengeance and wrath, was offended by the Hawaiians and wanted to get back at them by taking away the sun. He hid the sun in a cave behind some rocks so now, the Hawaiians would be in darkness forever. Since it was always dark, the Hawaiians couldn't dry their clothes or play outside. So, Kana set out to find the sun.

Kana searched for the god who made the sun. When he found the god, Kana made a bargain with him. Kana said " If you retrieve the sun, and give it to me, I will make sure that there are enough dried kapa for everyone." The god agreed to this deal and retrieved the sun for Kana. When the god gave the sun to Kana, he set it in the sky so well that no one has ever been able to move it since. Now the sun is back in the sky and all of the Hawaiians can dry their kapa. The Hawaiians lived happily ever after with the sun in the sky again.

Source:  http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/00056/kana.htm

The Green Lady

Local People know not to go traveling or walking in the green in the night. NO one walks through the grass or the forests of Hawaii with out a source of light. Story has it that if you do a lady in a white dress will appear and scare you. Another story says that if you see her she will kill you. This will happen in any large green plant area. Such as a park or forest and only at night.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folklore_in_Hawaii

The King of Sharks retold by S. E. Schlosser

One day, the King of Sharks saw a beautiful girl swimming near the shore. He immediately fell in love with the girl. Transforming himself into a handsome man, he dressed himself in the feathered cape of a chief and followed her to her village.

The villagers were thrilled by the visit of a foreign chief. They made a great luau, with feasting and games. The King of Sharks won every game, and the girl was delighted when he asked to marry with her.

The King of Sharks lived happily with his bride in a house near a waterfall. The King of Sharks, in his human form, would swim daily in the pool of water beneath the falls. Sometimes he would stay underneath the water so long that his bride would grow frightened. But the King of Sharks reassured her, telling her that he was making a place at the bottom of the pool for their son.

Before the birth of the child, the King of Sharks returned to his people. He made his wife swear that she would always keep his feathered cape about the shoulders of their son. When the child was born, his mother saw a mark upon his back which looked like the mouth of a shark. It was then she realized who her husband had been.

The child's name was Nanave. As he grew towards manhood, Nanave would swim daily in the pool beside the house. Sometimes, his mother would gaze into the pool and see a shark swimming beneath the water.

Each morning, Nanave would stand beside the pool, the feathered cloak about his shoulders, and would ask the passing fishermen where they were going to fish that day. The fisherman always told the friendly youth where they intended to go. Then Nanave would dive into the pool and disappear for hours.

The fishermen soon noticed that they were catching fewer and fewer fish. The people of their village were growing hungry. The chief of the village called the people to the temple. "There is a bad god among us," the chief told the people. "He prevents our fishermen from catching fish. I will use my magic to find him." The chief laid out a bed of leaves. He instructed all the men and boys to walk among the leaves. A human's feet would bruise the tender leaves, but the feet of a god would leave no mark.

Nanave's mother was frightened. She knew her son was the child of a god, and he would be killed if the people discovered his identity. When it came turn for the youth to walk across the leaves, he ran fast, and slipped. A man caught at the feathered cape Nanave always wore to prevent him from being hurt. But the cape fell from the youth's shoulders, and all the people could see the shark's mouth upon his back.

The people chased Nanave out of the village, but he slipped away from them and dived into the pool. The people threw big rocks into the pool, filling it up. They thought they had killed Nanave. But his mother remembered that the King of Sharks had made a place for her son at the bottom of the pool, a passage that led to the ocean. Nanave had taken the form of a shark and had swum out to join his father, the King of Sharks, in the sea.

But since then, the fishermen have never told anyone where they go to fish, for fear the sharks will hear and chase the fish away.

Source:  http://www.americanfolklore.net/folktales/ha.html

The Legend of Kauila at Punalu'u

Long, long ago, a magnificent turtle appeared on the moonlit shores of Punalu'u. Honu-po'o-kea was no ordinary sea turtle. Her head was as white as the snows of Mauna Kea. Honu-po'o-kea paused at the ocean's edge, searching for the perfect place to build a nest. Gentle waves tugged at the black sand beneath her. With a deep sigh, she pulled herself ashore.

Honu-po'o-kea dug a shallow hole and laid an egg, as dark and smooth as polished kauila wood. Her mate, Honu-'ea, had been waiting offshore, his reddish-brown shell bobbing in the surf. As Honu-po'o-kea covered her nest, Honu-'ea joined her. Together the turtles dug into the black sand and created a spring. Then, as silently as they had come, they disappeared into the ocean.

In time, the egg hatched into a magical turtle named Kauila. Kauila made her home at the bottom of the freshwater spring that her parents had made. People called it Ka wai hu o Kauila, the rising water of Kauila. Children would come to play in the spring, and if they saw bubbles rising from its depths they knew that Kauila was sleeping. Sometimes Kauila would transform herself into a girl so that she could play among the keiki. Always, she kept a watchful eye on the children, insuring their safety.

Honu, or green sea turtles, still come to the black sands of Punalu'u on the Big Island. They can be seen grazing on seaweed in the surf or basking in the warm sun, oblivious to the people that gather to watch them. At night the rare honu 'ea, or hawksbill turtle, has been known to nest in the area, just as Honu-po'o-kea did so long ago.

Here and there the black sand bubbles as cool mountain water from Mauna Loa percolates through the porous lava. This was Kauila's gift: fresh water for the people of Punalu'u. Long ago Hawaiians would dive to the floor of the bay to collect the fresh water in gourds. Hence the name Punalu'u, which means diving spring.

Source:  http://www.tammyyee.com/tt-kauila.html

Birth of the Iao Needle

Once in Old Hawaii, in the days when anything was possible, Maui, the most powerful God, had a beautiful daughter. Maui loved her very much and as he watched her grow up, he vowed that only the most worthy King in all the islands would marry her.

But without her father knowing, the beautiful maiden fell in love with Puuokamoa, a Merman God. She knew that her father wouldn't approve, so they kept their romance secret. Every day the beautiful maiden sneaked off to meet her love and every night she returned home, radiant. One day, a townsperson saw the two of them together and ran back and told Maui of his daughter's secret lover.

Maui was furious. He flew into a rage and his screams of anger were heard by Madame Pele, the volcano Goddess. She flew in her supernatural way to where Maui was and suddenly appeared in front of him.

"What is so horribly wrong to put you in such an uproar?" Madame Pele asked.

"My beautiful daughter has fallen in love with a God and I disapprove. When I see him, I am going to have him condemned to a fiery death", Maui said.

"Who is this God?", Pele asked.

"His name is Puuokamoa".

Madame Pele frowned at the mention of his name. "Oh no, Puuokamoa is my friend. Spare him, Maui. I beg you. Do not have him killed".

But Maui would not listen. Madame Pele was still pleading with him when his beautiful daughter returned. She heard her father's death sentence on her lover and burst into tears.

Oh Father", she sobbed, "I cannot live without the sight of Puuokamoa".

The Father's heart softened at the sight of his daughter and thinking that she would be unhappy for the rest of her life if she could not see the man she loved. Finally, after much thought, Maui put his arms around his daughter and lifted up her beautiful face. Tears soaked her unhappy eyes.

"Daughter dear, I cannot bear to see you unhappy", Maui said tenderly. "But I cannot allow this romance to continue. You cannot marry this Merman God".

His daughter waited to hear what her powerful father had decided. Madame Pele stood quietly, waiting to hear the fate of her friend.

I will not reduce him to ashes", Maui said.

"Oh, father dear", the daughter cried out, hugging him.

"I will turn him into stone. Then you may gaze upon him, but your romance will be pau (over)".

And that is how the mountain, known as the Needle, at Iao Valley came to be. It is the Merman God turned to stone for all to gaze upon.

Source:  http://www.mauigateway.com/~rw/myths1.htm

The Wizard Stones of Kapaemahu at Waikiki

The doings of four sorcerers, who have prestige among the mele singers and recounters of ancient Hawaiian lore, were revived a few years ago by the unearthing of long concealed monuments on the Waikiki beach premises of Princess Ka'iulani. These discovered relics of ancient days have brought out the tradition of their existence, to the following effect:

From the land of Moa'ulanuiakea (Tahiti), there came to Hawaii long before the reign of Kakuhihewa, four soothsayers from the court of the Tahitian king. Their names were: Kapaemahu, Kahaloa, Kapuni and Kinohi. They were received as became their station, and their tall stature, courteous ways and kindly manners made them soon loved by the Hawaiian people. The attractiveness of their fine physique and gentle demeanor was overshadowed by their low, soft speech which endeared them to all with whom they came in contact. They were unsexed by nature, and their habits coincided with their feminine appearance, although manly in stature and general bearing. After a long tour of the islands this quartette of favorites of the gods settled at Ulukou, Waikiki, near the site of the present Moana Hotel.

The wizards or soothsayers proved to be adepts in the science of healing, and many wonderful cures by the laying on of sands are reported to have been effected by them, so that their fame spread all over this island of O'ahu, as the ancients say, "from headland to headland," And their wisdom and skill was shown by many acts which gave them prestige among the people.

In course of time, knowing that their days among their Hawaiian friends were drawing to a close, they caused their desire for recognition for past services to be remembered in some tangible form, or manner, so that those who might come after, could see the appreciation of those who had been succored and relieved of pain and suffering by their ministrations during their sojourn among them. As an enduring reminder, the wizards agreed among themselves that the people should be asked to erect four monumental tablets, two to be placed on the ground of the habitation, and two at their usual bathing place in the sea. They gave their decision to the people as a voice from the gods, and instructed that the stones be selected from among those in the "bell rock" vicinity of Kaimuki.

The night of Kane was the time indicated for the commencement of the work of transportation, and thousands responded to aid in the labor. Four large selected boulders, weighing several tons each, were taken to the beach lot at Ulukou, Waikiki, two of which were placed in position where their house stood, and the other two were placed in their bathing place in the sea. Kapaemahu, chief of the wizards, had his stone so named, and transferred his witchcraft powers thereto with incantations and ceremonies, including a sacrificial offering, said to have been that of a lovely, virtuous young chiefess, and her body placed beneath the stone. Idols indicating the unsexed nature of the wizards were also placed under each stone and tradition tells that the incantations, prayers and fastings lasted one full moon. Tradition further states, as is related in the old-time meles of that period, that, after the ceremonies, by each of the wizards transferred all his powers to his stone, they vanished, and were seen no more. But the rocks having lately been discovered they have been exhumed from their bed of sand and placed in position in the locality found, as tangible evidence of a Hawaiian tale.

Source:  James H. Boyd  http://apdl.kcc.hawaii.edu/~oahu/stories/kona/wizstones.htm

Pele's Revenge retold by S. E. Schlosser

Ohi'a and Lehua loved each other from the moment they first saw each other at a village dance. Ohi'a was a tall strong man with a handsome face and lithe form. He was something of a trickster and was first in all the sports played by all the young men. Lehua was gentle and sweet and as fragile as a flower. Her beauty was the talk of the island, and her father was quite protective of his only child.

When Lehua saw the handsome, bold Ohi'a speaking with her father beside the bonfire, she blushed crimson, unable to take her eyes from the young man. At the same moment, Ohi'a glanced up from his conversation and his mouth dropped open at the sight of the beautiful maiden. He was not even aware that he had stopped speaking right in the middle of his sentence, so overwhelmed was he by the sight of the fair maiden across the fire from him.

Lehua's father nudged the young man, recalling him to his duties as a guest. Ohi'a stuttered and stammered apologies, trying to continue his conversation while keeping one eye on the fair Lehua. Lehua's father was amused by the young man's obvious infatuation with his daughter. He quite liked this bold trickster, and so he offered to introduce Ohi'a to his daughter. The young man almost fell over in his haste as they walked across the clearing to where Lehua stood with her friends.

From that moment, there was no other woman for Ohi'a but Lehua. He had eyes only for her, and courted her with a passion and zeal that swiftly won her heart. Her father gave his only daughter gladly into the keeping of the strong young man, and the young couple lived quite happily for several months in a new home Ohi'a built for his bride.

Then one day the goddess Pele was walking in the forest near the home of the handsome Ohi'a and spied the young man at work. Pele was smitten by him, and went at once to engage him in conversation. Ohi'a spoke politely to the beautiful woman, but did not respond to her advances, which infuriated Pele. She was determined to have this young man for herself, but before she could renew her efforts, Lehua came to the place her young husband was working to bring him his midday meal.

When he saw his lovely wife, Ohi'a's face lit up with love. He dropped everything at once and went to her side, leaving a fuming Pele to stare in jealous rage at the young couple. Dropping her human disguise, the goddess transformed into a raging column of fire and struck Ohi'a down, transforming him into a twisted ugly tree in revenge for spurning her advances.

Lehua fell to her knees beside the twisted tree that had once been her husband. Tears streaming down her lovely face, she begged Pele to turn him back into a man or else turn her into a tree, as she could not bear to be separated from her beloved. But Pele ignored the girl, taking herself up to the cool heights, her anger satisfied. But the gods saw what Pele had done to the innocent lovers and were angry. As Lehua lay weeping in despair, the gods reached down and transformed the girl into a beautiful red flower, which they placed upon the twisted Ohi'a tree, so that she and her beloved husband would never more be apart.

From that day to this, the Ohi'a tree has blossomed with the beautiful red Lehua flowers. While the flowers remain on the tree, the weather remains sunny and fair. But when a flower is plucked from the tree, then heavy rain falls upon the land like tears, for Lehua still cannot bear to be separated from her beloved husband Ohi'a.

Source:  http://www.americanfolklore.net/folktales/ha2.html



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