Superstition – Oahu, Hawaii

On the island of Oahu in Hawaii there is a curse that comes upon anyone who brings pork with them on the Pali road at midnight. If they do it is said something bad will happen, such as your car stalling out or angry spirits coming to taunt you. The Old Pali road connects Waikiki to Waimanalo but has since been turned into a highway. The curse of taking pork over the Pali at midnight relates to a feud between Pele, the goddess of the dry side of the island and Kamapua’a the half-man, half-pig god of the wet side of the island. When you take pork over the Pali, from the wet side over to the dry side of the island, Pele is angered because you are bringing Kamapua’a into her domain. Therefore, as the saying goes; Don’t bring pork over the Pali at midnight!

Sam’s father is a native Hawaiian, and although Sam was born in California he spent much of his childhood frequently visiting Hawaii with his family. Sam cannot remember exactly when he was told about this curse but he guessed it was when he was very young, around 5 or 6 years old. He said it was a family tradition to sit around in the evening and sing songs and tell stories about the islands, especially the close ties with nature.

When Sam was a teenager he said he and his friends went on the Pali road at midnight with a piece of bacon. They hiked off of the highway onto the old road that was not paved over. After about thirty minutes of snooping around with their bacon in hand, nothing had happened. The boys left in their car.

Sam does not really take the curse seriously because he rarely is driving around the Pali highway with pork in his car at midnight. Also, because he has tested it out and nothing happened, he believes its just an old superstition used to scare little kids and keep teenagers off the deserted road late at night.

Hawaiian superstitions are very closely tied with the identity of the Hawaiian people. Because the tourism industry is so prevalent and the “authentic” Hawaiian experience is exploited, superstitions such as the pork over Pali tradition serve more as ways to remember the roots of the Hawaiians and the Polynesian beliefs versus a scare tactic to keep kids from being on the highway late at night.

Furthermore the story behind the superstition serves as a constant reminder of the Polynesian belief system. Because the objects are very specific in relation to the superstition the reason behind it is more easily remembered. I think parents tell this folklore to their kids because at a young age they are more impressionable and the story will likely make a bigger impact on them then it would on a adolescent who is less likely to take their parents seriously.