By Léo Azambuja

Niihau KHSPut on your Ni‘ihau shell lei today and come to Lihu‘e Parish Hall, where Kanani Beniamina will identify the rare shells and weaving styles.

“The Niihau people are the most expert in using this resource,” said Donna Stewart, marketing coordinator for the Kaua‘i Historical Society.

The event presented by Linda Moriarty is another program in the five-month long celebration of åKHS’ 100th anniversary.

While the origin of the Ni‘ihau shell lei is lost in antiquity, there is ample evidence of its existence when Captain James Cook first arrived in Hawai‘i in 1778, according to the Ni‘ihau Cultural Heritage Foundation.

A Ni‘ihau shell lei in display in the British Museum and most likely collected by Cook during one of his visits to the island of Ni‘ihau is made mostly of kahelelani shells, the foundation states on its website,

KHS 100After the Hawaiian Islands were inhabited by early Polynesians who voyaged across the Pacific 0cean, Kahelelani became the first great ali‘i, or chief, of Ni‘ihau.

Until today the island is often called Ni‘ihau a Kahelelani, and his name is also used for the famous kahelelani shells which are used in making Ni‘ihau shell lei, according to NCHF.

Those attending the event will be able to view timeless ornaments and rare shells gathered on the shores of Ni‘ihau, also known as the Forbidden Island.

The event is free, and goes from 2 to 9 p.m. The Lihu‘e Parish Hall is right behind King Auto Center in Lihu‘e.


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