The Legend of the Night Marchers

By | July 12, 2019

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Still from Night marchers The Gods Retake Hawaii. Source: (

All cultures have legends of things that go bump in the night. Some are known throughout the world while others are specific to a particular culture. The legend of the night marchers, which has been passed down in Hawaiian tradition since ancient times, falls in the latter category.

Who (or what) are the Night Marchers?

Known as huaka’i pō in the Hawaiian language, the night marchers are a procession of ghosts who have allegedly been seen marching down the mountains at night. Their march is accompanied by the sound of beating drums and chanting. Some stories say the marchers are armed spirit warriors on their way to battle. Some speculate that the apparitions are searching for the entrance to the afterlife. Others believe they are the ghosts of warriors assigned to protect the ali’i.

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A painting showing a range of Hawaiian tribal chieftains. Source: (

Who are the Ali’i?

During the caste system of ancient Hawaii, leaders known as ali’i were believed to possess spiritual power called mana and were thought to be the physical representations of the gods. When an ali’i traveled through a village, the warriors accompanying him would beat their drums and blow conch shells to announce his arrival. This announcement could be life-saving as the villagers were forbidden to make eye contact with the ali’i and the punishment for violating this edict was death. The warriors are believed to have continued their duties into death and many witnesses claim the night marchers are accompanied by the gods and goddesses themselves.