I’m always on the lookout for cool things to do in Hawaii (and write about them, too), but it’s not often I come across a site or event I’ve never heard of before — until now!
I’m talking about the Wizard Stones in Waikiki, four healing stones that sit in the heart of Waikiki. Yes, healing stones. In Waikiki.
Here’s what I’ve learned about these four stones that stand together along Kuhio Beach:
Around 400 A.D., four individuals came from Tahiti to the shores of Waikiki bringing with them tremendous healing powers:
- Kapaemahu was the leader of the four and honored for his ability to cast aside carnality and care for both men and women.
- Kapuni was said to envelop his patients with his mana.
- Kinohi was the clairvoyant diagnostician
- Kahaloa— whose name means “long breath”—was said to be able to breathe life into her patients.
The art of healing they practiced is known in the Islands as laau lapaau. In this practice, plants and animals from the land and sea, which are known to have healing properties, are combined with great wisdom to treat the ailing.
The four healers settled in the area within Waikiki known as Ulukou but soon became renowned throughout all of Oahu. When the time drew near for them to return to Tahiti, they wanted their presence and power to remain in a tangible form. They would each place their healing powers, their mana, within four separate stones that could then be used by the Hawaiian people in their absence.
They called for the stones to be brought from a Kaimuki quarry, nearly two miles away. Originally, two were placed where the healers dwelled and two where they bathed.
Then, the stones were moved… and moved.
1900’s: Gov. Archibald Cleghorn discovered two stones on his property and two on an adjacent property. Recognizing their significance, Cleghorn had them excavated and placed together on his estate with the stipulation that they should not be moved.
1941: The estate land was leased out for the building of a bowling alley. Exemplifying a low point in the recognition of and appreciation for the Hawaiian culture, the stones were actually used in the building’s foundation.
1963: they were relocated to Kuhio Beach.
1980: the stones were moved again, approximately 50 feet mauka (toward the mountains) from their 1963 location.
1997: action began to create a permanent and more appropriate home for the stones.
The entire restoration project was planned around the lunar calendar, and a delegation from Tahiti was present for the final ceremonies. These individuals blessed the stones with wild basil, traditionally used for cleansing, and presented a small stone from Tahiti named Taahu ea as a hookupu (offering). That stone is now set on top of the altar in front of Na Pohaku.
It was at this time that the name was changed from “Wizard Stones of Kapaemahu” to “Na Pohaku Ola Kapaemahu a Kapuni,” undoing the westernized understanding of healing powers as some sort of magic. Four plants with medicinal value were added to the site—mao (Hawaiian cotton), ohe (bamboo), makahala (wild tobacco) and naupaka kahakai (beach naupaka).
According to Waikiki Magazine, “their very essence encompasses the connection between Hawaii and Tahiti and the depth of healing that can take place through laau lapaau. In addition, Na Pohaku Ola Kapaemahu a Kapuni stand as a testament to the culture within the Hawaiian Islands in which mana exists in all living things— a more that is truly foundational for the people of Hawaii.”
So, now you know! And, next time you’re heading to a surf lesson, make sure you stop and pay homage to the Wizard Stones in Waikiki