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ISLAND HISTORY: Papu’s ghost waits at Puukapele, Kaua‘i

During World War II, teller of Hawaiian tales Eric Knudsen (1872-1957) recalled that long ago a friend had told him that Puukapele, a rock formation overlooking Waimea Canyon beside the Koke‘e Road, was haunted.

This friend said that he’d been riding his horse along a trail by Puukapele with his three dogs late one night in the late 1800s, when the dogs and horse were suddenly spooked for no apparent reason.

The next day at Halemanu, the friend asked an old Hawaiian knowledgable of the folklore of the Puukapele area if he could explain what may have actually happened the night before.

The old man revealed to him that a man named Papu had been murdered near Puukapele hundreds of years ago and had been buried where he’d fallen.

And, each year since then, on the anniversary of day of his murder, his spirit returned to sit and wait beside the trail where he’d been killed to seek revenge on the first man who passed by during the night.

That day was “either last night or tonight,” the old Hawaiian told Knudsen’s friend.

He went on to say that “your dogs and horse, being more sensitive than yourself, sensed the presence of Papu’s spirit when you could not and were badly frightened. Papu’s spirit did not kill you, only because you were not of the same clan that murdered him.”

On another night some years later, Knudsen also rode past the place Papu was supposed to wait, and as he passed by, the story of Papu’s spirit entered his thoughts in a rush.

Suddenly, a dark shadow swept past him.

Knudsen shouted, “Owai kela?” (Who is that?), but there was no reply.

Then his horse bolted full speed ahead.

When the horse finally halted, a cold chill ran down Knudsen’s spine.

From that day forward, he would never again pass along the trail by Puukapele at night.

And, as to skeptics who would not believe his story, he would reply, “If anyone of you do not believe this story, ride up there yourself, alone, at night, and see what happens!”
Source: The Garden Island

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