For generations the large rectangular 2 1/2-ton monolithic lava rock known as the Naha Stone lay forgotten and covered with weeds in a backyard in Hilo, Hawaii. Over half a century ago there was a revival in ancient Hawaiian relics; the Naha stone was found and given a new resting place in front of the Hilo Library on the Big Island of Hawaii, where it remains till today. The Pinao stone, the smaller stone standing upright next to it, once guarded an ancient Hawaiian Heiau or temple.
The Hawaiian prophecy or legend of the Naha Stone stated that the person who moved the Naha stone with his bare hands would unite and be ruler of all the Hawaiian Islands. One man did accomplish this feat, and his name was King Kamehameha the Great.
And even as he spake these words, they who stood by were stricken with fear, for his face flushed red as with blood, and fire appeared to flash from his eyes, so that the fear spread even among the high chiefs who gazed upon him.
Then Kamehameha prepared himself for the ordeal, examining his hands and the stone that he might see how best to accomplish his purpose. And Kalaniwahine, taking hold of his hands, spake encouraging words unto him and said unto him:
"If indeed the Naha Stone shall be this day moved by thee, then shall the whole group of islands, from Hawaii to Kauai be moved, but if indeed it shall be moved and turned from its resting place, then shall all dissensions be removed, and thou and thy people and thy prophetess shall live and shall dwell henceforth in peace forever. For this is the prophecy of the Naha Stone, O Prince, so get thee to thy great task."
And now, as the people and all assembled, watched Kamehameha closely, he placed his hands under the stone and began to move them so that he might better take hold. Which being done, he cried these words:
"Naha Stone art thou:
And by Naha Prince only may thy, sacredness be broken.
Now behold, I am Kamehameha, a Niu-pio
A spreading mist of the forest."
Then gripped he the stone and leaned over it, and as he leaned, great strength came into him and he struggled yet more fiercely, so that the blood burst from his eyes and from the tips of his fingers, and the earth trembled with the might of his struggling, so that they who stood by believed that an earthquake came to his assistance.
THE STONE IS TURNED
And he put forth all his strength. and, behold, the stone did move under his arms, and he raised it on its side and with supernatural strength did over turn it, so that all who stood by were amazed and dumb with awe.
HAWAII NATURE NOTES, THE PUBLICATION OF THE NATURALIST DIVISION, HAWAII NATIONAL PARK AND THE HAWAII NATURAL HISTORY ASSOCIATION VOL. IV FEBRUARY 1952 No. 3
Learn more about Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great (c. 1758 – 1819)
You can stand in awe in front of the actual Naha Stone for yourself. Be respectful of this revered pohaku (Hawaiian word for rock or stone) and what it means to the Hawaiian people by not sitting or standing on it. If you have small children, do not let them climb on it or play on it. Many times you can still find fresh offerings of lei and smaller rocks wrapped in ti leaf which are called ho'okupu (gift or offering) decorating the Naha Stone.
The Hilo Public Library is located at 300 Waianuenue Avenue between Ululani and Kapiolani Street. There is no parking allowed in front of the library, but you can park in their free parking lot located on the side of the library building. Click here for map directions.
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Photograph courtesy of And Hawaii.