HAWAII NATURE NOTES
THE LEGEND OF THE NAHA STONE
For many, many years, there lay, in the back garden of a house in Hilo, Hawaii, a great rectangular lava stone. For so long, indeed, had it lain there, that this present generation has well-nigh forgotten its existence. The ever-present rank growth of the lantana had covered it, and its resting place bid fair to remain undisturbed forever.
But a revival of interest in the ancient relics of the past, brought it to light once more, and it has recently been moved to a place of great honor, on the grounds of the Hawaii County Library, near the bank of the river which plunges on its way to the sea, through the pleasant and beautiful Crescent City by the blue Pacific Ocean.
Here, doubtless, it will be gazed upon by the countless visitors to whom the great beauty of the Island of Hawaii is fast being revealed, and perhaps it will help them to imbibe something of the spirit of those ancient days which vested every part of the island with legendary lore and with records of wonderful deeds and prowess.
If this be so, then the Naha Stone of Hilo will have performed a great work, and its fame will increase rather than diminish throughout the ages yet to come.
Just how, and why the great stone first became famous, is veiled in the mystery of past days, for the first authentic record of it deals with its voyage from the far away island of Kauai. Here it had rested hard by the Wailua river on that Island, but was placed upon a double canoe by the high chief Makaliinuikualawalea, and by him brought to Hilo, Hawaii the Beautiful, and there placed in front of the temple Pinao, of which but one single stone now remains, and the site of which is the back-garden with which our story opens.
It is said that the Naha Stone had the peculiar property of being able to determine the legitimacy of all who claimed to be of the royal blood of the Naha rank, and many times, in front of the temple of Pinao, must the strange ceremony have been enacted.
Now, the children of this royal family were the offspring of a degree of relationship which, in these modern days, would be strongly disapproved of, and would be forbidden by the table of affinity laid down in the reign of good King James of England for our guidance, but we are less concerned with this, than with the actual ceremonial of determining which was in this wise:
As soon as a boy of Naha stock was born, he was brought to the Naha Stone and was laid thereon, while the kahunas prayed to the gods and chanted their strange barbaric chants. One can imagine how anxiously the parents would watch the unconscious babe, for one faint cry from those infant lips would bring upon him shame which would endure through all his lifetime, and he would be thrust out to take his place among the common people and to make his stormy way through life as best he could.
But should the infant have been endowed with the golden virtue of silence, then indeed a career was open to him, for he would be declared by the high kahuna to be of true Naha descent, a royal prince by right and destined to become a brave and fearless soldier and a leader of his fellow men.
Now, these things may seem strange to us, but the Naha Stone was vested with yet more mystery, for concerning it there existed an ancient prophecy that only the chiefs of the Naha blood could violate its sanctity by moving it, and that he who moved it would become a king of the Island of Hawaii. And yet more: for the saga had come down through the past ages that he who could overturn the stone would be a king indeed, for to him should be given the power to conquer all the islands of the group and bring them under one sovereignty.
That this saying most strongly influenced the career of the great Kamehameha, we shall now see, for this is the story of his dealings with the Naha Stone of Hilo:
In those days lived Kekuiapoiwa Elua, a High Princess, wife to Keouanui, the brother of Kalaniopuu, the mighty chief and warrier. And in the fullness of time, Kekuiapoiwa gave birth to a son, Kamehameha, and thus was the great king brought into the world.
Now Kamehameha was cared for by Naeole, high chief of Kohala, and lived with him through all the days of his boyhood, being well instructed in all manly sports and in the art of war, so that even while he was young in years he did mightily excel all others in the casting of spears, in the running of races on sledges, in swimming in the great waters and in all things. And his days were passed in happiness and peace, neither knew he of the future in store for him.
And warfare and strifes spread throughout all the land of Hawaii, and for many seasons the warfare ceased not, and ever the tidings came of fierce and terrible conflicts, of chief against chief and brother opposed to brother, so that men died in their thousands and all the land was red with blood.
It came to pass also that Kalaniopuu was foremost in these wars, until he fought against Alapainui, king of the Island of Hawaii, who defeated him. But Alapainui was heavy with years so that he died. and was succeeded by his son.
And then Kalaniopuu warred against the son of Alapainui and defeated him, so that he fled to Kawaihae, where he died, and Kalaniopuu reigned in his stead and became king of the Island of Hawaii. And the father of Kamehameha, Keouanui, died before Alapainui, an enemy having given him poison in his food.
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