Na pohaku ola kapaemahu a kapuni
Na pohaku ola kapaemahu a kapuni : Waikiki's healing stones
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Na pohaku ola kapaemahu a kapuni
Na Pohaku Ola Kapaemahu A
Kapuni: Waikiki’s Healing Stones
By :Denetra Kalinowski
The Island of O’ahu, and Hawai’i in general, has a rich cultural
heritage. Ancient Polynesian seafarers first came to the Hawaiian
islands around 1500 years ago. These ancient people lived in
harmony with the Earth. They left few sites that could scar the
Earth. One of the few remnants that remain of these early
travelers are the Na Pohaku Ola Kapaemahu A Kapuni, or
Waikiki’s Healing Stones.
Na Pohaku Ola
Kapaemahu A Kapuni
Today the stones sit,
somewhat obscured by
overgrown landscaping, on
the world famous public
access beach at Waikiki.
According to legend 4 very powerful healers traveled from Tahiti to
the Hawaiian islands and settled in what is today known as Waikiki.
These 4 healers became known throughout the islands and people
would travel to see them, but they never intended to stay. When they
decided it was time to return to their homelands, they wanted to
leave the Hawaiian people with a gift. They requested that the
people of the island travel to the Kaimuki quarry, almost 2 miles
away, to retrieve 4 large volcanic basaltic stones. This was done at
night under the full moon. Legend says that the process took only
one night, because the healers said they had to travel this way.
Thousands of people arrived to help carry the heavy stones by
hand. The healers claimed to have then imbued the stones with a
portion of their mana, or life force, which would remain on the
island and contain their healing powers. Each of the four healers,
Kapaemahu, Kahaloa, Kapuni, and Kinohi chose their stone very
carefully. They then had a huge celbration that lasted for one full
lunar cycle. During the next full moon, when the moon was at its
highest, the healers left the islands for their home.
The marshes, which is what Waikiki beach was
back then, slowly reclaimed the sand and soil under the
large stones over the next several hundred years. Though
the legends of their healing power remained.
Governor Archibald Cleghorn discovered 2 of the
stones on his property, and the other 2 on an adjacent
property where they were building the Moana Hotel in
1901. Having heard the stories and recognizing them for
what they were, he had them excavated and placed
together on his vast estate. This original excavation
lasted was overseen by the governor himself & until
1903. Not much else is known about the excavation. In
1941 the estate was leased to a man who wanted to put a
bowling alley on the property. Not knowing, or caring to
enquire, about what the stones were, he used them in
the foundation of the building of his bowling alley.
Upon the demolition of the bowling alley in 1958, the
stones were identified and re-excavated from the
foundation and repaired.
Archibald Cleghorn with his wife, Hawaiian Princess Likelike
The Moana hotel is now known as the Moana Surfrider and still stands, but has expanded to
include the original governor’s estate. This is where the stones originally stood. Below you can
see both the old and new sections of the hotel, which occupies an entire city block.
In 1963 the stones were mover to Kūhiō Beach to make way for new construction in the now booming tourist area
of Waikiki. They were shifted another fifty feet towards the mountains in 1980 for yet more construction. In 1997
The great great grandson of Archbald Cleghorn, a cultural historian named Manu Boyd, said that “The value and
meaning of the stones had faded over time with the changing values and mores of the day. Then, their importance
was remembered and embraced by people who wanted to restore them” (Reynolds 2012). With the help of the
Queen Emma Foundation, the stones were moved one last time to a small fenced off area on Waikiki beach, where
they still stand. Two plaques were placed with the stones. One in the native Hawaiian language, and one in English.
The well-known statue of native Hawain Duke Paoa Kahanamoku,
who won three gold, two silver, and one bronze Olympic metals
between 1912 and 1922, stands on Waikiki beach within 50 feet of
the healing stones. Duke is known as the Father of International
Surfing. Even on the overcast December morning I took this photo
dozens of people crowded around this statue for a picture with
Duke. There is rarely, if ever a moment when there is not a line to
Yet only a few feet away the Healing stones of Waikiki sit
unceremoniously neglected in a small fence. Most visitors to the
area walk right past the stones with no knowledge of what they are.
The faded plaques are difficult to read, and if not for the leis placed
there by locals looking for healing and success, few would ever stop
to notice them. These stones are the earliest tangible proof of
human inhabitation of the Hawaiian Islands that we have, and yet
few people have heard of them or their legends outside of the local
Wakiki beach is one of the most crowded places on the island.
Thousands upon thousands of tourists flock to this beach every
year. This photo was taken from the stones themselves, just last
week. There is no reason that more people don’t know about the
significance these stones have to the islands. With better signage and
landscaping these stones could be returned to glory. They could be
such a wonderful tool to interest people in the history of Hawaii
and all of the Polynesian culture if just a little more attention were
paid to how they are presented.
dukekahanamoku.com. (2014). Duke Kahanamoku.
Retrieved from http://www.dukekahanamoku.com/
Hawaiian Encyclopedia. (2013). First Polynesians, First Hawaiians.
Retrieved from Hawaiian Encyclopedia:
Reynolds, K. (2012, April 2). Wakiki Magazine.