This video was shot several years ago while hiking with friends on Kauaʻi. We are on a ridge above the Nāpali Coast with a good view of the island on Niʻihau. The view reminded me of a Hawaiian Legend which makes mention of a mystical land located at the bottom of the sea, between where we were currently standing and the island of Niʻihau. My memory of where I had read or heard the story was fuzzy, as were many of the details.
I did my best to locate the source from which the story came with no luck. Instead I found multiple myths & legends containing components of the story I am telling. It's possible that I combined multiple tales into my own conglomerate version. More important than specifics (in my opinion), are the general concepts related from a good tale - and the subsequent thoughts, feelings, and universal "life lessons" they inspire. A crucial component in many storytelling traditions includes space for filtering the story through one's own memory & perception. It’s worth noting that this seems to be an acceptable aspect of the Hawaiian storytelling tradition as well. That said, I apologize in advance for any gross inaccuracies.
Clarification on some Points:
The meanings of Pō, po-, and pō-:
Initial results yielded a literal translation of simply “night”. Digging deeper, I found references to “the darkness”, “night/period of the gods”, and “the chaos of formless creation”.
Going deeper still, I found the many poetic definitions of pō listed below - used a stand-alone word or as a prefix (po- or pō-) in the many Hawaiian words flavored by it’s meaning. Once again I am blown away the meaning and poetry contained in Hawaiian words, in this case only 2 letters!
These final references come from the Hawaiian Dictionary contained on the website: www.wehewehe.org:
[on a related side note, here’s the similarly multifaceted poetry of the word wehewehe: 1. vt. To explain. Cf. puke wehewehe ʻōlelo. Wehewehe ʻana, explanation, definition. 2. Redup. of wehe; to unsaddle or unharness, as a horse; to pull growing taro stalks slightly apart so as to strengthen the corm. 3. (Cap.) n. Name of a star (no data).]
Same as pō-. See poale, pohole, pokaʻi, poluhi.
Time of, state of. See below, especially poʻeleʻele, pōhae, pōhihi, pōhina, pōʻino, pōkaʻa, pōkaʻo, pōlena, pōlewa, pōluku, pōmaikaʻi, pōnalo, pōniho, pōniu, pōpilikia, pōule. Also po-.
1. nvs. Night, darkness, obscurity; the realm of the gods; pertaining to or of the gods, chaos, or hell; dark, obscure, benighted; formerly the period of 24 hours beginning with nightfall (the Hawaiian “day” began at nightfall) Fig., ignorance; ignorant. Cf. Halāliʻi, Pōʻakahi, Pōʻalua. Hōʻike a ka pō, revelation from the gods [as in dreams or omens]. Inoa pō, name suggested for a child in a dream. Mai ka pō mai, from the gods; of divine origin. Kāne o ka pō, wahine o ka pō, husband of the night, wife of the night [spirit lover: it was believed that a child born of such a mating might resemble an eel, lizard, shark, or bird, or might have supernatural powers; sometimes death or sickness followed nightly visits]. Nā pō o ka mahina, days [lit., nights] of the month. Pō ʻahia kēia? What day of the week [or month] is this? Pō nui hoʻolakolako, the great night that supplies [the gods revealed their will in revelations and dreams at night]. Pō pouli ʻaʻaki, a night so dark it bites with the teeth. Pō i ka lāʻau, darkened by the tree. Ua pō, it's late (not necessarily night, but usually said if one is in danger of not being home by dark]. Ua hana māua ā pō ka lā, we worked until night; lit., until the day darkened. Ua hana māua ā ao ka pō, we worked until daylight; lit., until the night lighted.
More Information: can be found on the larger umbrella site Ulukau: www.ulukau.org, of which the www.wehewehe.org site is a part of. I highly recommend you check out these two sites, they contain multitudes of traditional Hawaiian knowledge! Click here to search keywords, such as Pō, contained in popular Hawaiian myths & legends.
Jeremiah has been guiding for nearly 20 years throughout much of the United States and internationally. Originally from Silver Spring, MD , he has been enjoying island life for the past 15 years. He is the founder and lead guide for Kauai Hiking Tours.