The Legend of the Naupaka Flower

Storytellers of Hawaii have told this beautiful legend for generations. It is with deep respect for the traditions that I fashion my own version.

When the world was new, the people lived on the islands, and when the sun went down, the world was dark. And the people were cold and got tired of eating raw food. The mountains on the islands were big, dark lumps of stone.

Then one day, there was a flash in the dark, and the Goddess Pele was there. The people worshipped her, because she brought them fire. They could make torches for light, and fires for warmth and to cook their food. They loved Pele for what she had brought. But they feared her, because when Pele got angry, she could make the mountains rain down fire on the plants and people, destroying everything.

Now, Pele had a sister, Princess Naupaka, who was very loving and beautiful. Sometimes Pele would become jealous of Naupaka, because the people loved her so. She would say to herself, they love Naupaka more than me. I don’t like that.

Early one morning, 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, and she fell instantly in love with him.

She went to her sister, Pele, and told her about Kaui, and about his velvety brown eyes. She was a princess, and Kaui was only a common man. Would Pele grant her the wish to marry this ordinary man?

Pele told her that she would go to the beach the next day to meet this young man and make her decision. And indeed, the very next day, she went to the same beach where the papio swim, and sure enough, Kaui was there, catching fish for his family. Pele saw that this man was very handsome, and she thought to herself, maybe I’d like him for myself. For as good as Pele could be, she could not always be trusted.

She said to the man, “Kaui, I find you very pleasing. Come live with me.”

But Kaui answered, “I cannot, Goddess Pele.”

Pele smoldered a little bit and asked, “How is it that you can say no to Pele?”

And the man said, “Because yesterday I met your sister, Naupaka, and I love her.”

Now Pele got very angry, and she made lava flow down to the beach. Kaui was afraid for his life, and he ran as fast as he could down the beach and out into the water. But the lava flowed too rapidly, and it overtook the man and killed him.

Pele thought to herself, now neither of us will enjoy being with that man. It’s clear to me that my problem is with Naupaka. She is so beautiful that every man she meets will love her, and not me. It is she who must go. And she set out looking for Naupaka.

When Pele is angry, even a little bit, things change. Birds cease to fly. Bees forget to buzz. The people saw the smoke in the air and the little brush fires popping up here and there. They ran to Naupaka and warned her that Pele was angry, and the princess was sure she knew why. She thought, I can hide up on the mountain, because Pele’s lava can’t flow uphill. I’ll be safe there.

Sad to say, she was wrong. Pele was so angry that she threw the lava up the mountain. The ohia trees caught fire, and poor Naupaka died in the fire.

A few days later, a plant started to grow on the beach where Kaui perished. It had bright green leaves and little white flowers that only had half the petals. Another plant started to grow far up the mountain, where Naupaka had met her fate. This plant looked the same as the plant at the beach, and this one had half the petals as well. But these petals were on the other side of the flower.

 To this day, the island has two plants, one that grows near the coast, and one that is only happy in the mountains. They are called Naupaka Makai for shore and Naupaka Mauka for mountain.

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


8 Responses to The Legend of the Naupaka Flower

  • Diane Moss says:

    Nice fable. Thanks for posting.

  • Anna says:

    Wow… It’s a beautiful Myth.

  • niki minaj says:

    i really enjoyed your story of this half flower that tends to grow in the hawaiian island . Mabe , when i come down for the summer, we can chat a little bit:) Call me @ 777 606-4366

  • James Swinerton says:

    Aloha. I have a small bit to add to the history of the naupaka. Several years ago, I was on the big island do some snorkeling. I was advised to use the leaves of the naupaka plant to keep my goggles from fogging. I did for a little while. My eyes began to sting and after several days, I could barely
    open them as any light caused intense pain. Eventually, I went to Hilo for medical help. Nothing seemed to help until I went to a tourist clinic in Kona. After extensive questioning by the attending physician, she came back to my severe allergies to peanuts and kapoc asking if I had been exposed to any new substances. Fortunately, my wife remembered using the naupaka leaves. The mystery was solved

  • Tracy Carr says:

    Beautiful lover story!

  • Janice Watene says:

    Great true story. Love Hawaii

  • Now I am ready to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming again to
    read other news.

  • As a Newbie, I am constantly exploring online for articles that can benefit
    me. Thank you

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