The Night Warriors or Night Marchers, called “Huaka'i Po” in Hawaiian, are spirits of deceased soldiers doomed to wander the world of the living. Some traditions contend these warriors are marching to or from battle. Other tales tell of restless spirits, aimlessly searching for their respective entrances into the next world. But in every story, such ghostly ranks are formed by Hawaiians who died gruesome deaths in battle and now, marching to primal drumbeats and led by the spirits of high-raking rulers known in Hawaiian as “Ali'i”, pace about in orderly ranks visiting ancient battlegrounds and holy sites.
It is a widely held belief in traditional Hawaiian spirituality that souls of relatives who die gruesome, unexpected or tragic deaths often remain in the realm of the living and cause mischief. Ancient Hawaiians would go to great lengths to ensure hospice-bound relatives were comfortable and at peace, so that when death came at last their spirits would freely travel across the “rainbow bridge” to the world beyond. Owing to the circumstances of Night Marchers' deaths, their pain and struggle has bound them to this realm, unable to peacefully relinquish existence, marching in-step as they did in life, rhythmically chanting, blowing horns, carrying torches and ancestral weaponry, adorned with cloaks and decorative helmets.
Night Marchers move under the cover of darkness, and before the first rays of a new rising sun breach the horizon, they have climbed back into their graves once again. Foreigners' documented run-ins with these spirits date back to the time of Captain Cook, the first European to make contact with the Hawaiian Islands. Recovered historical texts from the 1880s make reference to the Huaka'i as a mighty phantom army of “spirit ranks” marching angrily around Big Island - known as O'io - led by the ghost of King Kamehameha I. Sightings of these ghostly bands have been reported on every major Hawaiian island.
For Those Brave Or Crazy Enough: Where To Find Huaka'i Po On Big Island...
Night Marcher sightings have spread across the Island of Hawai'i. From tales of ancient temples filled with the spirits of deceased warriors in Kona, to groups of marching apparitions in Mackenzie State Park in Puna District, to ranks of marchers making their way across the 300-foot footbridge to Coconut Island, known as “Moku 'ola” in Hilo Bay, Big Island is ripe with stories of these ghoulish processions.
For those visiting or living in Hawai'i who want nothing to do with Night Marchers, avoiding them is simple:
Never interrupt the march of the Huaka'i.
Avoid eye contact with Marchers, for their gaze is said to be deadly.
Crouch down low to the ground and play dead, not making any sound of movement.
Use Ti Lead to protect homes and walkways.
On the other hand, for those hoping to catch a glimpse of Night Marchers in action, Big Island Ghost Tours (BIGT) conducts walking tours at night in Bayfront Hilo and Kona Town which traces the footsteps of these ancient soldiers, visiting numerous sites built atop ancient grounds where they were once interred.
BIGT is operated by researchers from Kahuna Research Group, a paranormal investigation organization led by Hawaiian resident, author and certified lead paranormal investigator Zach Royer.
Article by Stefan Verbano for Big Island Ghost Tours
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