The Story of Kamalani

Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole sings a song called Kamalani, written by Larry Rivera, a songwriter from Lana’i. You may not know that there is a intricate story behind the song. Here’s the lyrics:

israel-bioWhere is my love, Kamalani
Please answer me, Kamalani
Puukaninui, Puukaninui
Oh here I am, Kamalani
Here in this paradise

Kamalani, Kamalani
Is this the fullness of heaven
Here in this paradise

Please come to me, Kamalani
When nights are still, Kamalani
You can hear the voice of Puukaninui
You’ll be together again

Kamalani, Kamalani
You’ll hear the sound of his voice
Here in this paradise

Larry Rivera shared with us the story behind this beautiful song:

“I was home ill with the flu, when the manager of Coco Palms, Grace Guslander, called to find out how I was doing. She always was concerned about “her children”. After finding out I was getting better she said, “Larry why don’t you write a song about the frog. Meleana Soong wrote a beautiful legend called The Legend Of The Frog and it would be wonderful if you could write a song for this legend”. After we talked, I said to myself, how am I going to write a song about a frog. Just then outside my window I heard a whistle coming from the trees. I looked out and saw a beautiful bird with a long tail and white chest. The bird kept singing and the tune was so clear and that’s when I put the words and music together.

The Legend Of The Frog tells of a place far above Wailua called Pihanakalani which means “The Fullness of Heaven”. Here lived Puukaninui “Great Singer”. He lived with his grandmother Kealohilani, a beautiful chieftess of high rank.

One day Puukaninui decided to visit Walua-Nui-Hoano, the ancient capitol of Kaua’i , a land taboo to the common people. Before leaving he was warned by his grandmother that he music return to pihanakalani before sundown. If he did not, he would surely be transformed to a frog.

It was there in Wailua-Nui-Hoano that Puukaninui met and fell in love with Kamalani, the granddaughter of a high chief. Kamalani means “Child of a Chief”. After declaring their love for each other Puukaninui suddenly realized that it was late in the day and remembered what his grandmother told him about being late in returning home. Before he knew it he felt a sudden sensation come over him and in a few moments he was transformed into a large frog, “Polokanui”. He was a large handsome frog, as handsome as a frog can be. He sat on a lily pad singing their favorite love song, for at the Coco Palms lagoon he found a haven. Kamalani knew it was Puukaninui even before she saw his mamo-shaped ila (birthmark) in the center of his forehead.

If you are a favorite of the gods, you can see and hear him some evenings as he sits on his lily pad serenading his beloved one. Some nights if you are fortunate, you might see Kamalani as she joins him in song.”

Hear the song for yourself on his album, E Ala E!