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What appears to be a garden of stones near the Waikiki police substation is actually much more than that. Surfers, swimmers, paddlers and beach-goers walk by the fenced-off area every day, oftentimes not even noticing it. But upon closer inspection, they would see plaques at the base of the stones with a short moolelo (legend) that goes something like this:
In about 400 A.D., four healers traveled from Tahiti to Hawaii, where they were instantly welcomed by islanders. We know this because their arrival had been recorded in song and chant, describing them as tall and stately with gentle, feminine ways. Some believe full-moon nights bring the healers, represented by these rocks, back to Hawaii.
Kahaloa, Kapuni, Kinohi and Kapaemahu found a home in Waikiki, where the Moana Surfrider hotel stands today. They relieved pain and suffering throughout the island and grew famous for such daily miracles of healing. Because they knew they would not stay in Hawaii forever, they wanted to leave behind a monument that would serve as a source of power and healing.
In an effort to execute their plan, thousands of followers gathered at the highest elevation of Kaimuki, about two miles from Waikiki. Men and women followed orders from the healers to transport four great stones, each weighing more than a ton, from atop the hill to their home in Waikiki. The healers left the islands for Tahiti, but the stones didn’t and remained a powerful source. They are called Na Pohaku Ola Kapaemahu a Kapuni, or “The Stones of Life.”
Like most ancient traditions, the power of the stones have faded from history. They served as racks for soggy beach towels and chairs for people to rest on and at one point, were almost completely buried in sand. Seeing the value in the stones, the City and County of Honolulu placed them onto a paepae (stone platform) for further preservation. Tahitians presented a smaller stone during the 1997 ceremony, in which they placed on an altar in front of the four larger stones. The two plaques at the base tell the story in English and Hawaiian.
“ STONES OF LIFE” • Historic Hawaiian stones representing four healers from Tahiti • Next to the Waikiki police substation