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THE LEGEND OF AKAKA FALLS

In the olden days, long before the arrival of the tall sailing ships, when men were one with nature, the gods were many, and the land young, there lived a warrior chief named Akaka in the village of Honomu.            Tall, young, strong, and very handsome he was famed throughout the island and attracted the eyes of the ladies.

One day, while his faithful and trusting wife was visiting her parents in the distant village of Hilo, Akaka saw his sweetheart on the north side of the gulch.  Her name was Lehua.  She was delicate of features, slim, graceful, and delightful to watch.

Seeing his wife return unexpectedly, he left Lehua’s hut by the back door and crossed the gulch to visit his other sweetheart, Maile, who lived on the south side of the gulch.  Maile of the clinging scent and cozy arms.

Following him there because of the scented grass he wore, his wife called for him to return home.  Hearing her calling him, Akaka hastily sped out the back door and took a shortcut to his home.

Alone at last, Akaka contemplated his ill behavior.  He sat in the hut with his dog, an uncomplaining friend and companion, who followed at his side wherever he went.  Overwhelmed with shame that he could deceive his loving wife, who had supported him in all his actions as a chief and who trusted him without question, Akaka fled the hut with his dog following closely at his heels.

Akaka approached a projecting rock on the top of a bluff.  Looking down to the sea, he took one last look at the huts of his two sweethearts, Lehua on the north side, and Maile on the south side of the gulch.

He then threw himself over the cliff and fell headlong to the far valley below.  His dog hesitated jumping and was turned immediately into a jagged rock at the top of the falls.

His wife, following Akaka closely, saw him poised over the cliff.  She rushed through the brush to get to his side, to say all was forgiven, for she loved him dearly.  She began to call him, but it was too late.  He had already disappeared from view over the cliff.  She rushed to the edge, and overcome with grief, wept uncontrollably and called for Akaka.

She was transformed into a large rock at the top of the falls.  As she wished, she is now permanently there next to Akaka.

The heartbroken sweethearts, Maile and Lehua, upon hearing of Akaka’s death, cried and cried until they too were turned into waterfalls, a little further down the gulch from Akaka Falls.

Later in tribute to Chief Akaka, mourners threw fresh fruits and other gifts over the falls.

Old timers say that on a still and moonless night, when the leaves are quiet and the crickets silent, one can hear, nearly muffled by the roar of the falls, his wife still calling for Akaka.

To this day, tradition also says that if you strike the large rock at the top of the waterfall with a lehua twig or wrap a maile lei around it, rain will fall, for Lehua and Maile always made the wife weep.

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