The Hawaiian Naupaka Legend


(This legend tells the story about the two Hawaiian flowers, Mountain Naupaka, and Ocean Naupaka. The flowers are extremely similar in their half-shape, appearing as if each completes the other.)

There once was a Hawaiian maiden who lived high on the mountain. Every day she would travel down the slopes of the mountain to the ocean shore where she would bathe and play in the sun. One day a vibrant green Honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle) saw the girl and became enchanted by her beauty. But the turtle was actually a Kupua, a shape-shifting trickster god who could take on any appearance he liked.

Overwhelmed by his love for the girl, the Kupua turned himself into a handsome young man and bodysurfed to the shore. The young man professed his love for the girl and each day when she came to the water’s edge they would splash and play until sunset. The girl would then return to the mountain.

Frustrated because of the need to part every evening, the young man proposed to the girl one afternoon. Together they found a Kupuna, a village elder, and asked him to perform the marriage ceremony. But the Kupuna realized the young man was actually a shape-shifter Kupua, and he knew a marriage was therefore forbidden between the two.

Frustrated, the Kupuna found a beautiful white flower blossoming on a nearby tree. He gave half of one of the blossoms to the girl, and left the other half on the tree. With tears in his eyes, he told the girl if she wished to see him again, she would bring her flower to this tree and reunite it with its other half. He would then return from the ocean and they would be together again. Read more about the flower here

The above photo was taken in Kailua, Oahu while my friend and I were on vacation. The little girl is our host’s daughter, who graciously posed for some photos.

About nicholasbeatty

Nicholas Beatty is a children’s book author working primarily in multicultural stories. He loves folktales, local legends and history. He finds his inspiration when he travels around the world, and his passion is in sharing those stories with others.
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