Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 30, 2014


I was asked on my ghost tour one night why I never take my people to the stone ahu just off to the Diamond Head side of the Pohukaina Burial mound on the grounds of the 'Iolani Palace.

I'm not in the practice of making something out of nothing.  The truth is, there's nothing supernatural about the stone altar.  The Ahu was erected around the time of the hundred-year anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1993.  That would make the stone altar twenty-one years old. It's not ancient, it hadn't been there during the reign of Lili'u, Kalakaua, or any other monarch who ruled from the throne of either incarnation of 'Iolani Palace.

Our friends at posted this article:

A small, unnamed stone altar sits on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace.  About a yard (or meter) square, this site does not appear in the old photos, or even the fairly recent ones.  We asked Lynette Cruz about this ahu.  Here is her story:

"Prior to 1993, there was a plan for a 100th anniversary commemoration of the overthrow of the Kingdom in 1893.  And prior to that there was a plan for some way to bring all of the islands together, some visible marker of unification.  People brought rocks, from all islands, and they had a team of people there build an ahu.

"Friends of ‘Iolani Palace were not happy with the ahu.  They actually didn’t want it to be there.  The didn’t want it to be on the site at all.  Their wish was for that area to be kept pretty much as it was, and there was no ahu there before.  However, it was a people’s thing, and they did it anyway, and it’s there.  And people will come."

"Our ancestors are honored always, and the mound is set aside for the ali‘i.  And this other piece is ours, our history, our kupuna, our people who were in struggle.  We are able to honor them by bringing some physical manifestation -- a rock -- to this place where we could all be together -- unification."

"It seems that the ahu symbolizes resistance, and no matter what is all around us in terms of State or Federal control, that is ours.  So we will always be able to honor our own there.  That place belongs to us.  And when people in the movement, in the struggle, die, we tend to have a ceremony there at the ahu.  Kahale Smith, he died in a fire on Kaua‘i, on Hawaiian homestead land -- he was being evicted, and refused to leave his house, then it caught fire and burned down with him in it.  A major outcry followed, but then all of us were thinking, 'well, we have to do something about it.'  And a whole bunch of us met and decided that we would do something for him at the mound.  Hundreds and hundreds of people came, it was jammed around in that area, within that enclosed area.  So it’s a very significant place for us, us common people."

"The rocks keep changing.  We’ve only been maintaining the mound area for like three years, going on a fourth, and in that time the rocks have changed.  These are not the same rocks that were there when we first came, and they were not the rocks that were there when they first built it, because they have photographs of them.  Rocks are changing — rocks come, and rocks go. People bring things, sometimes they bring crystals, sometimes they bring continental rocks, more quartz like, so they’re not from here."

"But all in all, it has been a really good place for people to come, when they have to bring closure to something.  And I have actually participated in some ceremonies there, where people who are grieving, especially those who have gone away from Hawai'i and come home, and have lost family members, and really do not know how to deal with it, because they have been away from Hawai‘i for so long, they have kind of forgotten.  They will go to that area, to the ahu, and bring stones from where they used to live, and make peace. It must work, because people will walk away feeling okay."


Ho'akoakoa - a place to gather.  Anything can be healing.  It takes an open mind, an open heart and a willingness to let go.  But...
Not everything is haunted.

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