Waikiki's Wizard Stones Put on a Pedestal

Reed Travel Features

HONOLULU -- The Wizard Stones, Waikiki's oldest and only relics of ancient Hawaiian civilization, finally received the respect they deserve.

Partially covered by sand, the four huge basalt boulders were raised and placed on a foundation and enclosed by wrought-iron gates. They are on Kuhio Beach, close to the police substation and the Sheraton Moana Surfrider. For the last several decades, they served as convenient backrests and towel racks for beachgoers unaware of their significance.

Work on the "shrine," funded by the Queen Emma Foundation, a major Waikiki landowner, was completed in April. According to legend, the stones date at least to the 15th century. Four priests from Tahiti with healing powers arrived here during the last migration of Polynesians to the islands, which began in the 11th century. They spent years in Waikiki. Before returning home they gave residents a gift -- the four stones imbued with their mana, their healing powers. The healing stones are believed to have been quarried from Kaimuki, several miles from Waikiki. Two are thought to have stood in the ocean and two on land.

Late last century, the stones stood on the grounds of Ainahau, the estate of Archibald Cleghorn, a Scotsman who was Oahu's governor. Cleghorn was the husband of Princess Likelike, sister of the last monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. When the estate (roughly the area on Kalakaua Avenue between the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and the Hawaiian Regent and back to the Ala Wai Canal) was broken up in the 1920s, the stones disappeared.

They were rediscovered in the 1960s, when the Waikiki Bowling Alley on Kalakaua Avenue was torn down. They had been part of the facility's foundation and were moved by the city to their current site.

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