Growing up in Hawaii, I was told never to take any natural objects from the islands. I’m not sure when I was first told that, I just remember always being told to leave everything where it was, and to make sure what belonged on the islands stayed on the islands. I’m pretty sure tourists are told this legend, especially because when they want to bring back a cool souvenir from Hawaii they usually go for a lava rock or sand or something of that nature.
The legend goes that if you take a lava rock – I was also told not to take sand or Pele’s hair, a plant that grows on the islands – from Hawaii, Pele will curse you and you will experience bad luck until you return the rock to Hawaii. Pele is the goddess of volcanoes, and is a very jealous and bitter goddess who holds grudges. I’ve heard many stories of people who experience bad luck after taking a lava rock from the islands, and in order to break the curse and streak of bad luck they must personally take the rock back to Hawaii. There are some companies that will take shipments and return the lava rocks for people, but according to the legend the person who took it has to return it themselves or else the curse will not be broken.
This legend taught me from a young age to respect Hawaii’s natural habitat, as well as nature everywhere. People in Hawaii in general tend to have a lot of respect for nature, and I think this legend greatly contributes to that mindset.
Tasia knows quite a few Hawaiian legends, but she said that her sister is much more tied to the land than she is. They aren’t native Hawaiians, but living in Hawaii immerses you fairly wholly into Hawaiian culture (regardless of if you are a native). I go to Hawaii about 3 times a year, and have heard this legend before. I too have known from a young age not to take anything from Hawaii’s habitat. I have never experienced the curse as I have never taken anything from Hawaii, but when I used to go to the kids camps in the hotels, the people in charge would tell us stories of people who were cursed with very bad luck after stealing a lava rock from the island. I too respect Hawaii’s natural habitat, probably even more so than the environment here, which is kind of sad.