The Legend of the Naupaka Flower

If you are ever on Maui and happen upon a flower that looks like it is only half a flower. You might not believe your eyes. However, seeing is believing and what you have found is the Naupaka (Now-Pak-ah).

Legend tells a number of stories about this uniquely blooming flower. The one I am going to share with you is but one of them.

The Princess Naupaka was beautiful. She was also very kind and loving. For those reasons, the people all loved her very, very much. Her sister, the Goddess Pele (Pay-lay) was often very jealous of her sister, Naupaka because of how much she was loved.

Now Pele was loved too. She brought fire to the people, and with fire, they could cook their food, they could light their way at night, and keep warm when it got cold. The people loved Pele for all she did for them, but they also feared her because when she got mad. She could get very angry. She could make the mountains rain down fire killing the plants, animals, and anyone who got in her way.

It just so happened that one day, the Princess Naupaka was sitting on a rock at the edge of the ocean. There was a rush of silver fish in the water, and she saw that they were swimming away from a throwing net. A young man was standing in the water, fishing with the net for his mother and father. He was very handsome, and Naupaka could see that he was a hard worker. She spoke to him, and he smiled and told her that his name was Kaui (Kah-why-ee), and she fell instantly in love with him.

The Princess Naupaka’s heart was filled with joy, but she became very sad. Kaui was a commoner and she knew the two would never be allowed to marry. Princess Naupaka thought of everything she could, and in desperation, she went to her sister, the Goddess Pele. She begged and pleaded with her sibling to allow this marriage. Pele was touched and curious as to who this young man was and what power he might have to have made her sister fall so madly and totally in love with him. She concluded that she must first meet him and after doing so she would consider Naupaka’s request.

Naupaka sent word to her beloved Kaui and told him to meet her at his fishing spot down by the sea at first light. True to his word, Kaui was there when Pele arrived. She looked him over not once but twice and thought to herself, “I now know why Naupaka has fallen in love for Kaui is indeed very, very handsome. But why should she be the only one to enjoy his company and his pleasure!” she asked herself. So being Pele, she disregarded her sister’s feelings and instead told Kaui of her intentions. She said “Kaui, I find you very pleasing. Come live with me.”

Kaui was indeed handsome, but he was also a good man, a faithful man. He told her, “I cannot, Goddess Pele.”

Pele could not believe her ears and began to smoldered a little bit. She asked, “How is it that you can say no to Pele?”

Kaui looked up at her with his big brown eyes and said, “Because I met your sister, Naupaka first, and I love her.”

Now, this infuriated Pele who was use to having her way. She became so angry that she chased the young fisherman into the sea and because her lava was fast, it over took him there and killed him. If she could not have Kaui, then no one could… not even Naupaka.

When the princess Naupaka heard what had happened, she became grief stricken and fled to a temple in the mountains. There she stayed grieving for her lost love and as she wept tears flowed from her eyes, and everywhere her tears touched the ground a Naupaka plant sprouted, but because her heart had been split in two, their bloom was but half a flower. Her tears were caught by the wind, and some landed near the beach where her lost love had perished. There more Naupaka plants sprang forth with the other half of the flowers blooming forth.

Pele soon began to realize her problem had not been with Kaui but rather with Naupaka whose beauty was so great that every man who saw her fell in love. Pele knew that it was Naupaka who must go. Naupaka believed herself to be safe from her sister having fled to the mountains since lava cannot flow uphill but she was wrong. Pele became so angry that she threw the lava up the mountain. The ohia trees caught fire, and poor Naupaka died in the fire.

To this day there are two species of Naupaka plants. One grows near the coast and is called Naupaka Makai (mac-eye) for shore. The other is the Naupaka Mauka (Mow-cah) for mountain.

The people say that someday they will grow back together, and when that day comes, the two lovers will be reunited.


Hauola Stone


For all women who have experienced childbirth as an unbelievably painful experience, it is good to know that the early Hawaiians found a solution to the pain of childbirth. That solution was to give birth on a hard rock, apparently making the pain of birth minimalized by the discomfort of the hard rock surface where the birthing took place.  At least that’s my guess about the Hauola Stone. After all, who am I to say… I’m just a guy.  However, looking at the Hauola Stone, I cannot believe I’d want to sit in the time-worn hollowed-out rock seat while giving birth but then again I would never want to be giving birth anywhere for that matter… but that just me!

Located at the right-hand end of the stone wall that separates Wharf Street from the ocean in Lahaina Towne is a cluster of rocks which stand above the water at low tide.  There as you gaze over the rock wall sits the sacred chair-shaped rock amongst the rocky shoreline of Lahaina Harbor.  It might be partially submerged in water depending on the tide, but never-the-less there it sits as it has for centuries beckoning the ill and the life givers.

Hawaiians believed that if sick people would sit on the stone and let the surf wash over their dangling legs while offering ceremonial prayers to regain their health. It was a practice for these healers to send their patients to bathe in the waters at this stone and reports were given that many of these patients were cured. There is even an old Hawaiian proverb that refers to Ka La’i o Hauola (the calm of Hauola), as a metaphor for peace and comfort.

Healing stones have long been a part of ancient Hawaiian medical practice, and many healing stones like the Hauola Stone could be found throughout the islands.  Today, most of these healing stones have been forgotten, but the Haulo Stone in Lahaina remains in the forefront of Hawaiian folklore and history.

Its origin is legendary and its special healing powers sacred. The stone was once believed to have been a young girl, Hauola who when fleeing her enemies was turned to stone by her protective guardian gods.

The stone which looks like a spacious seat with a short angular back dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The name “Hauola” is loosely translated to mean extended life and health. While its general purpose was for healing because it was located where both fresh and salt water mixed, the blend of the two waters was significant for healing.  Its specific use was as a birthing stone.  When a chiefess, a female chief or female royalty was ready to give birth, her attendants would help her onto the stone chair.  They would then assist with the delivery and witness the birth.  Situated next to the site of the Brick Palace it was the birthplace for the ali‘i mo‘i (alley ee moi), the high chiefs.

Birth on the Hauola Stone provided the birth child with instant recognition as a potential leader of royal society. Just as a royal birth not involving the Hauola Stone forfeited a child’s royal privileges. And since the stone was unmovable, attendants would stuff the umbilical cord between the cracks and crevices of the stone, thus ensuring a common bond forever with the magical mysteries of the stone and the infant.

When there was talk and plans to enlarge the Lahaina Harbor which might have potentially ruined the picturesque nature of the area… it was the Hauola Stone, its placement, and its historical significance that overturned all changes that could have possibly changed Lahaina Harbor and its place in Maui culture.