Red-haired Giants in Hawaii?

Giants with red hair are not a common sight in Hawaii, but they have been recorded throughout history. Reports of large, red-haired individuals living in the islands stretch back hundreds of years. From stories of warriors and deities to scientific observations, the presence of red-haired giants in the island chain has been noted by various sources. This article will examine the various accounts of these unusual inhabitants in Hawaii and explore the likely reasons behind their presence. In doing so, it will investigate the consequences of superstition, racial prejudice, colonialism and scientific inquiry in shaping our contemporary understanding of these giants.

Origin Stories

Many origins stories and myths of red-haired giants have been recorded in Hawaii. Native legends of red-haired beings living in the islands date back hundreds of years. For example, the Hawaiian god ʻKane was said to have red hair, as was the goddess Kaʻahumanu. In other legend, a red-haired giant called Kana Loa was believed to have come to the island on a double-hulled canoe. In more recent times Captain James Cook, who arrived in the Hawaiian islands in 1778, recorded sightings of a number of large, red-haired people in the island group.

Historical Accounts

Colonial records offer further evidence of red-haired giants in the Hawaiian Islands. Reports of red-haired sailors sent to shore as a diplomatic visit to Hawaiians were recorded by European settlers in the early 1800s. In 1821, American settlers described a giant with red hair and large frame who they believed to be a Polynesian, though it is unclear whether the giant was of Tahitian or Hawaiian origin. In 1823, the noted English explorer and adventurer William Ellis encountered a large red-haired Polynesian living on Kauai Island, who was recorded in his journals as a “luminous giant.”

Scientific Studies

In the 20th century, scientific study of red-haired giants was undertaken. In one study conducted by anthropologist Kenneth Emory and physical anthropologist William Ward from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, it was proposed that the red-haired giants of the Hawaiian islands were likely of Tahitian or Marquesan origin. According to their theory, the early Polynesian settlers likely carried the gene for red hair to the Hawaiian Islands, and the individual variations in hair coloration observed in the population resulted from subsequent migration and intermarriage between different Polynesian groups.


The presence of red-haired giants in the Hawaiian islands is a phenomenon that has been marked by superstitious tales, racial prejudice and scientific inquiry. Through oral histories and colonial records, we have a better understanding of the place and meaning of giants with red hair in the history of Hawaii, as well as a scientific explanation for the individual variations in hair color found in the islanders. In conclusion, we have shown that the phenomenon of red-haired giants in the Hawaiian isles is a fascinating element of island history, one that deserves further study and acknowledgement.

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