What to do When You’ve Bought or Rented a Haunted House

A local supernatural expert gives some tips for dealing with a haunted home in Hawai‘i.


Let’s face it, this is Hawai‘i — spiritual occurrences are (almost) an everyday topic for some of us. Stories of homes built over burial land, on the path of night marchers, menehune mischief or other superstitions are so common, realtors have to disclose paranormal activity on a property if they are aware of it.


What happens, though, if you happen to buy or rent a home and you didn’t know it was plagued with mysterious, metaphysical activity until after you’ve moved in? I talked to Mysteries of Hawai‘i owner Lopaka Kapanui for some insight on such a spooky situation.


“The No. 1 thing to know: 90 percent of the time, it’s the people, not the place,” Kapanui says. “Some people have a history of being psychically sensitive, so wherever they go, they’ll always have an experience. It’s actually the person, and nothing to do with the environment.”


Kapanui says these people need to come to terms with their sensitivity. Many people repress their clairvoyant abilities for religious or social reasons when they’re young, and are in denial about them when, as adults, they have, um, spirited experiences.


If your home is built on or near a reputed night marcher trail, Kapanui recommends you figure out the path, then plant a row of ti leaves to divert the trail around the house. Night marchers usually travel from the mountain to the ocean, so use that as a guide in determining their route.


Kapanui gave us a tip about menehune that I had never heard, but he swears by it: If your home is built over a place where menehune live, the best thing to do is leave out bananas (maybe a small bunch once a week) and you’ll be fine.


How do you know if it’s menehune? “They’re specific about what they do to people living in their spot,” he says. “It’s mischievous things, like spinning your Christmas tree around, or leaving their telltale little footprints.”


There are some places that are notoriously haunted, like the Contessa. According to Kapanui, in 2006 some units in the building were going for $600 a month. In these cases, he says, there might be a few choice properties available around town that are exceptional deals, which might be desirable in this economy if you can put up with the spirits.


“It depends on the person; if you’re not sensitive to paranormal activity, you won’t hear or feel or see it,” he says.


“Traditionally, people haunt the places where they died—cemeteries aren’t usually haunted, because that’s where you end up,” Kapanui explains. “In the case of a property where there’s a violent crime/murder, the event was so traumatic that it makes a big psychic imprint on the place and you can feel the energy. It’s kind of like going to your in-laws’ house where you know you’re not wanted!”


If this kind of situation is a problem for you, do your research before you buy or rent. If you end up with a place and need help. Kapanui recommends finding a qualified medium, psychic, priest, or kahu.


“If you do find someone and they want to charge you money, they’re not real,” he says. “The qualified ones aren’t supposed to charge a fee.”