By Jan TenBruggencate

‘Princess Kaia,’ a modern artistic portrait shot by Daniel Finchum, exploring Hawaiian history and culture. Finchum uses wet plate collodion, a photographic technique developed in the 1850s, to add an antique feeling to his portraits.

Hawai‘i is famous for its love stories, both real and imagined.

Among the most tragic was the deep love between the third Kamehameha, Kauikeaouli, and his sister, Nahi‘ena‘ena.

They were the children of Kamehameha I with his wife Keopuolani.

In Hawaiian tradition, a union between such high-ranking chiefs would produce a child who was an even higher-ranking leader.

The chiefs of the Islands, respecting the old ways, hoped for a marriage between Kauikeaouli and Nahi‘ena‘ena. The missionaries opposed the union as incestuous.

All indications were that the two were deeply in love, but the missionary opposition sealed their failed union. Eventually, each married another.

Nahi‘ena‘ena married Leleiohoku, and bore him a child, but within the year, both the child and the mother had died.

Kauikeaouli was Kamehameha III by then, and married Kalama. She bore him two sons who both died young.

Since there were no heirs, the throne went on Kauikeaouli’s death to Liholiho, a grandson of Kamehameha I by another of Kamehameha I’s children — his king’s daughter, Kina‘u, who had married Kekuanaoa.

Liholiho married the woman who would become perhaps Hawai‘i’s most beloved queen, Emma.

But their pairing would also end in sadness. Their only child, Albert Edward Kauikeaouli, died young, and Liholiho himself would not live much longer, leaving Emma a young widow.

The nation was once again without an heir, and the throne passed to Liholiho’s brother, Lot Kapuaiwa, who became Kamehameha V. The woman he sought to marry was Bernice Pauahi Paki, but she refused him, and married Charles Reed Bishop.

Kamehameha V died childless, ending the Kamehameha line in Hawaiian royalty.

Those are true Hawaiian love tragedies.

In mythology, there are several versions of the legend of the famous Hawaiian half-flower, the naupaka.

In one version, two young lovers were forced apart, one to live by the sea and one by the mountains. Various versions have the girl’s parents,or a jealous goddess Pele playing a role in their separation.

One story says Pele lusted after the young man, but he spurned the goddess for the young girl. Pele attacked him. He was saved from her wrath by the gods, and was turned into the beach naupaka plant.

Pele remained angry and chased the girl into the mountains, throwing lava fireballs at her. The gods once again intervened, and turned her into the mountain naupaka.

The young lovers ended up perpetually separated, living as plants that grew in distant ecological zones.

But you can help.

In legend, while they come from different plants, each naupaka grew a blossom that looked like a half flower, with all its petals on one side.

If you go to the mountains to collect a blossom from the mountain naupaka, and take that flower to the beach to the coastal naupaka, then you have reunited the lovers.

And their gift to you, when you bring their flowers together, is a full flower.

  • Jan TenBruggencate is a Kaua‘i based writer and communications consultant.

Discover more from ForKauaiOnline

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.