My father was a diver who used his Hawaiian spear gun (aka: three prong; Hawaiian sling) to bring back fish for our family meals. On occasion, he’d load us in the old station wagon and take him with us. My mom would sit on the beach under the trees and watched as we played by the shore. My father would go to a nearby bush and pinch off two of its leaves, crush them and rub them into the glass of his diving mask. He’d then rinse out his mask vigorously, put them on and with his spear gun, dived into the ocean to get us dinner.
On one of those times, I walked passed those innocuous bushes and noticed that their flowers grew in half! I looked and searched those bushes but all pretty small petals opened into just a half circle blossom. It was then that I was to hear my first Hawaiian legend. Though there are many variations of this story; I am sharing the one that I heard that Sunday morning.
There was a beautiful Ali’i princess by name of Naupaka. It was said that she was lovely and well liked. Though she lived high up in the mountains, she was very fond of surfing. She often made that long trek from her village down to the shore to enjoy the waves.
It was on one of those days that she met a fisherman named Kaui. He was handsome and kind and after a while the two fell in love. But she was royalty and he was a commoner. By ancient Hawaiian laws, marriage between the two was forbidden. They sought help from their Kapuna (elders) and were warned that their pairing could not be.
A friend told them about a very wise Kahuna (Hawaiian priest), who lived high up on the mountain that could possibly help them with their plight. They traveled for days through dangerous cliffs and cold, wind-driven rain to seek the Kahuna’s help. When they finally reached their destination, Naupaka was sick and weak. The couple told their story to the wise Kahuna and begged for his help. But the Kahuna shook his head; they could never be together.
Heartbroken, Naupaka plucked a flower from her ear and tore it in half. She gave Kaui one half of the blossom as they parted.
“Take this,” she whispered as they honi (an intimate hug) one last time. And though he didn’t want to, Naupaka made Kaui go back to his village by the sea. Naupaka disappeared and no one ever saw her again.
But if you go to the shoreline, there is a bush that grows there. The leaves are broad and shiny. The flower that sprouts are only half a blossom. Its matching half can be found only in the remote areas of the mountains in the islands. When placed together, the flower becomes whole. A sad love story, yes, but one that became legend.
At Island Essence we tried our best to capture the elusive Naupaka fragrance (my inner-child hope is that we were able to combine both Naupaka Kahakai and Kauihiwa’s essence so that the sweethearts can be together again).
We offer a few Naupaka scented items that I hope you will enjoy. Look for the Maui Organics Ocean Passion line with soaps, lotions, aloe, candles, body butter that have a sweet, citrusy scent (it’s one of my favorites!).