Niʻihau (Hawaiian: [ˈniʔiˈhɐw]) anglicized as Niihau (/ˈniːhaʊ/) is the westernmost and seventh largest inhabited island in Hawaiʻi. It is 17.5 miles (28.2 km) southwest of Kauaʻi across the Kaulakahi Channel. Its area is 69.5 square miles (180 km2).[3] Several intermittent playa lakes provide wetland habitats for the Hawaiian coot, the Hawaiian stilt, and the Hawaiian duck. The island is designated as critical habitat for Brighamia insignis, an endemic and endangered species of Hawaiian lobelioid. The United States Census Bureau defines Niʻihau and the neighboring island and State Seabird Sanctuary of Lehua as Census Tract 410 of Kauai County, Hawaii. Its 2000 census population was 160;[4] Its 2010 census population was 170.

Elizabeth Sinclair purchased Niʻihau in 1864 for $10,000 from the Kingdom of Hawaii and private ownership passed on to her descendants, the Robinson family. During World War II, the island was the site of the Niʻihau Incident: A Japanese navy fighter pilot crashed on the island and terrorized its residents for a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The people of Niʻihau are known for their gemlike lei pūpū (shell lei) craftsmanship and speak Hawaiian as a primary language. The island is generally off-limits to all but the Robinson family and their relatives, U.S. Navy personnel, government officials, and invited guests, giving it the nickname "The Forbidden Isle". Beginning in 1987, a limited number of supervised activity tours and hunting safaris have opened to tourists. The island is currently managed by brothers Bruce Robinson and Keith Robinson.

Nickname: The Forbidden Isle
Niihau sep 2007
Aerial view of Niʻihau looking southwestward from the northeast
Hawaii Islands - Ni ihau
Location of Niʻihau in the state of Hawaiʻi
Location21°54′N 160°10′W / 21.900°N 160.167°W
Area69.5 sq mi (180 km2)
Area rank7th largest Hawaiian Island
Highest elevation1,250 ft (381 m)
Highest pointMount Pānīʻau
United States
FlowerPūpū keʻokeʻo (white shell)[1]
ColorKeʻokeʻo (White)[2]
Largest settlementPuʻuwai
Population170 (2010)
Pop. density1.9 /sq mi (0.73 /km2)


Niʻihau is located about 18 miles (29 km) west of Kauaʻi, and the tiny, uninhabited island of Lehua lies 0.7 miles (0.61 nmi; 1.1 km) north of Niʻihau. Niʻihau's dimensions are 6.2 miles by 18.6 miles (10 km x 30 km). The maximum elevation (Paniau) is 1,280 feet (390 m).[5] The island is about 6 million years old, making it geologically older than the 5.8 -million-year-old neighboring island of Kauaʻi to the northeast. Niʻihau is the remnant of the southwestern slope of what was once a much larger volcano. The entire summit and other slopes collapsed into the ocean in a giant prehistoric landslide.[6]


The island is relatively arid because it lies in the rain shadow of Kauaʻi, and lacks the elevation needed to catch significant amounts of trade wind rainfall. Niʻihau, therefore, depends on winter Kona storms for its rain, when more northerly weather systems intrude into the region. As such, the island is subject to long periods of drought.[7] Historical droughts on Niʻihau have been recorded several times, one in 1792 by Captain James Cook's former junior officer, George Vancouver, who had been told that the people of Niʻihau had abandoned the island because of a severe drought and had moved to Kauaʻi to escape famine.[8]

Flora and fauna

Niihau cliffs aerial
View of the rugged cliffs of windward Niʻihau (the northeastern shore)

As an arid island, Niʻihau was barren of trees for centuries — Captain James Cook reported it treeless in 1778. Aubrey Robinson, grandfather of current owners Bruce Robinson and Keith Robinson, planted 10,000 trees per year during much of his ownership of the island; Robinson's afforestation efforts increased rainfall in the dry climate.[10] Island co-owner Keith Robinson, a noted conservationist, preserved and documented many of Niʻihau's natural plant resources. The island is designated as a critical habitat for the ʻōlulu, an endemic and endangered species of Hawaiian lobelioid. Aylmer robinsonii, a Pritchardia palm tree named for Keith Robinson's uncle Aylmer Robinson, is an endangered species native to Niʻihau.

Several bird species thrive on Niʻihau. The largest lakes on the island are Hālaliʻi Lake, Halulu Lake and Nonopapa Lake.[11] These intermittent playa lakes on the island provide wetland habitats for the ʻalae keʻokeʻo (Hawaiian coot), the āeʻo (black-winged stilt), and the koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck). The critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is found in high numbers on Niʻihau's shores. Robinson states that Niʻihau's secluded shoreline offers them a safe haven from habitat encroachments. According to Robinson, conditions there are better than the government refuges of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. When the Robinsons originally purchased Niʻihau, no monk seals were present, because they lived in the northwestern part of the Hawaiian island chain, Necker and Midway islands. They have been relocated to the main Hawaiian island chain by NOAA fisheries over the past thirty years, and some have found homes on Niʻihau.[10][12]

Big game herds, imported from stock on Molokaʻi Ranch in recent years, roam Niʻihau's forests and flatlands. Eland and aoudad are abundant, along with oryxes, wild boars and feral sheep. These big game herds provide income from hunting safari tourism.[10]


Map of Yam Bay and Niihau, Captain George Dixon's Journal, 1788
Map of Yam Bay and Niʻihau, Captain George Dixon's Journal, 1788.

Prior to the unification of the Kingdom of Hawaii under Kamehameha I, Niʻihau was ruled by the aliʻi. Kahelelani was the first of the Niʻihau aliʻi. His name is now used to refer to the Niʻihau kahelelani, the puka shell of the wart turbans (Leptothyra verruca), used to make exquisite Niʻihau shell jewelry.[13][14] Kāʻeokūlani was a ruler of northern Niʻihau who unified the island after defeating his rival, a chief named Kawaihoa. A stone wall (Pāpōhaku) across a quarter of the island's southern end marked the boundaries of the two chiefs: Kāʻeo's land was identified by black stones and Kawaihoa's by white stones. Eventually, a great battle took place, known as Pali Kamakaui. Kāʻeo's two brothers from the island of Maui, Kaiana and his half-brother Kahekili II, the King of Maui, fought for Kāʻeo, and Niʻihau was united under his rule. Kawaihoa was banished to the south end of the island and Kāʻeo moved to the middle of the island to govern. Kāʻeo married the Queen Kamakahelei, and a future king of Niʻihau and Kauaʻi named Kaumualiʻi was born in 1790. Kauaʻi and Niʻihau are said to have carried the "highest blood lines" in the Hawaiian Islands.[15]

Kamehameha managed to unify all of the islands by 1795, except for Kauaʻi and Niʻihau:[16] Two attempts to conquer those islands had failed, and Kamehameha lost many men: bodies covered the beaches on Kauaʻi's eastern shores.[17] Finally, in 1810, Kamehameha amassed a great fleet, and Kaumualiʻi, the last independent aliʻi, surrendered rather than risk further bloodshed. Independence again became feasible after Kamehameha's death in 1819, but was put down when Kamehameha's widow Kaʻahumanu kidnapped Kaumualiʻi and forced him to marry her. Thereafter Niʻihau remained part of the unified Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

Hawaiian Islands, Hale, Niihau, 1885, taken by Francis Sinclair
A group of villagers at Puʻuwai Beach settlement, Niʻihau in 1885. Photograph taken by Francis Sinclair, son of Elizabeth McHutchison Sinclair.

Elizabeth McHutchison Sinclair (1800–1892) purchased Niʻihau and parts of Kauaʻi from Kamehameha V in 1864 for $10,000 in gold. Sinclair chose Niʻihau over other options, including Waikīkī and Pearl Harbor. By around 1875, Niʻihau's population consisted of about 350 Native Hawaiians, with 20,000 sheep.[18] This era marked the end of the art of Hawaiian mat-weaving made famous by the people of Niʻihau. Makaloa (Cyperus laevigatus), a native sedge, used to grow on the edges of Niʻihau's three intermittent lakes.[19] The stems were harvested and used to weave moena makaloa (mats), considered the "finest sleeping mats in Polynesia". The mats were valued by aliʻi and foreign visitors alike, but by the end of the 19th century, Hawaiians had stopped weaving makaloa due to changes in population, culture, economics, and the environment.[20]

In 1915, Sinclair's grandson Aubrey Robinson closed the island to most visitors. Even relatives of the inhabitants could visit only by special permission. Upon Aubrey's death in 1939 the island passed to his son Aylmer, and in 1968 to Aylmer's youngest brother Lester. Upon Lester's wife Helen's death, the island passed to his sons Bruce Robinson and Keith Robinson, the current co-owners.[10] (See Sinclair-Robinson family tree)

Niʻihau played a small role during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In what has come to be called the Niʻihau Incident (or the Battle of Niʻihau), a Japanese pilot whose Zero had been hit crash-landed[21] on the island hoping to rendezvous with a rescue submarine. The pilot was apprehended and later escaped with the assistance of local Japanese residents, but he was killed shortly afterwards.[22]

Despite its self-imposed isolation, Niʻihau has a long-standing relationship with the U.S. military dating from 1924.[10] There is a small Navy installation on the island. No military personnel are permanently stationed there, but the U.S. military has used the island for training special operations units, which included hiring Hawaiians who live on Niʻihau as "enemy" trackers.[23]



The island of Niʻihau was considered as a possible location for the United Nations headquarters in 1944 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had visited Hawaiʻi in 1934.[24] Under Cordell Hull, Roosevelt's Secretary of State, the State Department seriously studied the proposal.[25]

In 2004 President George W. Bush received all but one of the 40 votes cast on the island. The remaining vote was cast for Green Party nominee David Cobb. 51 registered voters did not cast ballots.[26] In 2006 Dan Akaka received 60.3% of votes in the 2006 Senate election to Cynthia Thielen's 36.1%.[27] In 2008, Niʻihau's precinct was one of only 3 of Hawaiʻi's 538 precincts to vote for John McCain over Barack Obama. McCain received 35 votes, Obama received 4, and Cynthia McKinney received 1.[28] In the 2016 Presidential Election, nearly 60% of the vote went for Donald Trump.[29]


Niihau helicopter
Navy contractors from PMRF arrive at Paniau Ridge on Niʻihau in an Agusta A109 helicopter. The seabird sanctuary island of Lehua can be seen in the background.

The 2010 census states that there were 170 people living on the island.[30] However, witness accounts estimate that the population actually ranges between 35-50 people.[31][32] Some support themselves largely by subsistence fishing and farming, while others depend on welfare.[33] All residents live rent-free, and meat is free.[10] Niʻihau has no telephone services and no paved roads. Horses are the main form of transportation; bicycles are also used. There are no power lines; solar power provides all electricity. There is no plumbing or running water on the island. Water comes from rainwater catchment. The Robinson family established most of these conditions. There is no hotel, and barges deliver groceries from Kauaʻi, often purchased by relatives, with free shipping.[10]

Residents generally speak the Niihau dialect of Hawaiian as their first language, in part encouraged by terms in the original purchase contract which obligated the new owners to help preserve Hawaiian culture and tradition. The Niʻihau dialect differs from modern standard Hawaiian in that, for example, [t] and [ɾ] are the most common realizations of the phonemes /k/ and /l/, respectively.[10] Niʻihau is the only island where Hawaiian is spoken as a primary language.[34] Oral tradition maintains that the Niʻihau dialect is closer to the Hawaiian register spoken during the time of contact with Europeans; there is linguistic evidence to support this claim, such as the pronunciation of k as /t/. English is the second language.

Some residents have radio and television sets, although limited reception effectively limits the latter to watching pre-recorded media.[35] Niʻihau is subject to regular droughts that occasionally force the population to evacuate to Kauaʻi temporarily, until rainfall replenishes their water supply. Residents commonly also commute to Kauaʻi for work, medical care, or school, and many of them call both islands home. To avoid a long boat ride, the island's owners maintain an Agusta A109 helicopter for emergencies and for transporting Navy contractors and residents to and from Kauaʻi. Helicopter tours and safaris help offset the costs of this service.[36]

A form of ipu art is known to have developed solely on the island of Niʻihau.[37][38] In this method, after a design is carved in the skin of a fresh gourd, it is filled with dye which, after several weeks, changes the color of the uncarved portions of the surface where the skin is intact. Hawaiian music plays a central role on the island, with a cappella singers making use of only two or three tones and changing rhythms. Ukulele and guitar playing is nearly ubiquitous among the islanders, and there are three separate styles of slack-key music, with an older style originating from Kohala.[39]


The Hawaii Department of Education operates the Niʻihau School, a K-12 school. Academic subjects and computer literacy are combined with teaching students to "thrive from the land".[10] The school is powered entirely by solar power.[40] The number of students varies from 25 to 50 since families often travel between Niʻihau and Kauaʻi.[41] Schoolchildren may stay with relatives in west Kauaʻi, where they attend one of two Niʻihau-focused public charter schools. At the Ke Kula Niʻihau o Kekaha school, students speak primarily the Niʻihau dialect through the early elementary grades, and then Hawaiian and English through grade 12. The school has a digital recording and video system, which helps to preserve and teach traditional Niʻihau and Hawaiian culture. At the other west Kauaʻi school, Kula Aupuni Niʻihau a Kahelelani Aloha (KANAKA), English is used in all grades, while still supporting the Niʻihau dialect. Both schools foster the culture, values, and spirituality of Niʻihau.[10]


Approximately 80% of Niʻihau's income comes from a small Navy installation atop 1,300-foot-high cliffs. Remote-controlled tracking devices are used for testing and training with Kaua'i's Pacific Missile Range Facility. Modern missile defense tests are conducted at the site for the U.S. and its allies. The installation brings in millions of dollars a year, and provides the island with a stable economic base without the complexity of tourism or industrial development.[10]

The sale of shells and shell jewelry is an additional source of income.[42] Its beaches are known for their pūpū, tiny shells that wash onto shore during winter months. Species used for shell leis includes momi (Euplica varians), laiki or rice shells (Mitrella margarita) and kahelelani (Leptothyra verruca).[43] The shells and jewelry are so popular that Governor Linda Lingle signed a bill in 2004 to protect lei pūpū o Niʻihau (Niʻihau shell leis) from counterfeiting.[44] A single, intricate Niʻihau shell lei can sell for thousands of dollars.[10]

Trash deposited by the ocean on a windward Niʻihau beach

Many residents of Niʻihau were once employees of Niʻihau Ranch, farming cattle and sheep until the Robinsons shut down the operation in 1999. It had not been profitable for most of the 20th century. Honey cultivation[45] was also no longer viable by 1999.[23] Kiawe charcoal was once a large-scale export, but aggressive Mexican price competition ended that as well.[10] Mullet farming has been popular on Niʻihau, with ponds and lakes stocked with baby mullet, which reach 9–10 pounds (4.1–4.5 kg) apiece before being harvested and sold on Kauaʻi and Oʻahu.[46]

Bruce Robinson, Niʻihau's co-owner, is seeking and considering new forms of non-invasive income generation. Depending on feasibility, impact, and ecological footprint on the ecosystem and culture, possibilities include: JP-8 generation by the lignocellulose process; military, including a possible runway; and windmill energy production. Robinson has declined offers to purchase sand from Niʻihau's beaches, because of adverse environmental effects.[10]


Niʻihau's owners have offered half-day helicopter and beach tours of the island since 1987,[47] although contact with residents is avoided and no accommodation exists.[48] Since 1992,[49] hunting safaris provide income via tourists who pay to visit the island to hunt eland, aoudad, and oryx, as well as wild sheep and boars. Any meat the hunters do not take with them is given to the village.


  1. ^ Shearer 2002, p. 99.
  2. ^ Shearer 2002, p. 230.
  3. ^ "Table 5.08 - Land Area of Islands: 2000" (PDF). 2004 State of Hawaii Data Book. State of Hawaii. 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-23.
  4. ^ Census Tract 410, Kaua'i County Archived copy at WebCite (January 17, 2010). United States Census Bureau
  5. ^ "Table 5.11 - Elevations of Major Summits" (PDF). 2004 State of Hawaii Data Book. State of Hawaii. 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-23.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Tabrah 1987, pp. 10–11.
  8. ^ Tabrah 1987, p. 49.
  9. ^ "Puuwai, HI Monthly Weather Forecast". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mangieri, Gina (22 June 2009). "Niihau: Past, Present and Future" (Television production). KHON-TV (report with video). Partial transcript/monograph online in 12 parts
  11. ^ Lloyd J. Soehren (2010). "lookup of Nonopapa Lake". in Hawaiian Place Names. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
  12. ^ Tava, Rerioterai; Keale, Moses K. (1990). Niihau: The Traditions of a Hawaiian Island. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing Company. p. 95. OCLC 21275453.
  13. ^ Tava & Keale 1998, p. 13.
  14. ^ Kam, Nadine (2004-05-17). "The real deal: Genuine Niihau shells have lasting quality". Features. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
  15. ^ Tava & Keale 1998, pp. 13–14.
  16. ^ Coulter, John Wesley (1964). "Great Britain in Hawaii: The Captain Cook Monument". The Geographical Journal. 130: 2. doi:10.2307/1794586.
  17. ^ Gay, Lawrence Kainoahou (1981). Tales of the forbidden island of Niʻihau. Topgallant Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 0-914916-43-2.
  18. ^ Bird, Isabella L. (2006). The Hawaiian Archipelago. BiblioBazaar. p. 212. ISBN 1-4264-4990-9.
  19. ^ Joesting, Edward (1988). Kauai: The Separate Kingdom. University of Hawaii. p. 188. ISBN 0-8248-1162-3.
  20. ^ Van Dyke, Peter (June 2001). "Growing Makaloa (Cyperus laevigatus L. ) in Constructed Wetlands for Weaving and Treating Wastewater: Final report for U.S. Geological Survey Grant No. 99CRGR0003" (PDF). Bishop Museum. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ Nieuwint, Joris. "4789904038_81ca14b47a_b - WAR HISTORY ONLINE".
  22. ^ The Niʻihau Incident serves as the backdrop for Caroline Paul's 2006 novel East Wind, Rain (ISBN 0-06-078075-4) and the opening chapter of Michelle Malkin's In Defense of Internment.
  23. ^ a b Sommer, Anthony. "Niihau: Opening Up." Honolulu Star-Bulletin. May 14, 1999.
  24. ^ Tabrah 1987, p. 1.
  25. ^ Bemis, Samuel Flagg (December 1949). "The Memoirs of Cordell Hull". The Journal of Modern History. University of Chicago Press. 21 (4): 317–320. doi:10.1086/237294.
  26. ^ Hawaii 2004 election results for precinct 16-09. Retrieved April 21, 2006.
  27. ^ "General Election 2006 - State of Hawaii - Statewide **FINAL SUMMARY REPORT**". November 7, 2006. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  28. ^ "Office of Elections" (PDF).
  29. ^ "Who Voted For Donald Trump In Hawaii?". Honolulu Civil Beat. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data" (PDF). US Census Bureau. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  31. ^ "That's Just How I Rule". This American Life, 2017.
  32. ^ "Ni`ihau Island Today - Learn about the Forbidden Island of Ni`ihau".
  33. ^ Langlas, Charles and Kehaulani Shintani. "Mälama ka ‘Äina: To Care For The Land" [review]. CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship. Vol. 3 No. 1 (Winter 2006).
  34. ^ Olsen, Eric P. (October 2001). "Paradise Preserved". World & I. 16 (10): 108.
  35. ^ Enomoto, Catherine Kekoa (1997). "Niihau: Island at a Crossroad". Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
  36. ^ "Niihau - Hawaii's "Forbidden Island"". Kauai Visitor Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
  37. ^ Crites, Jennifer (October–November 2007). "The Ipu Guy". Hana Hou!. 10 (5). Retrieved 2007-10-18. This method developed [circa AD 1600] only on Niʻihau—- nowhere else in the world—- and then vanished at the end of the 19th century," explains Harburg. "It was lost until Dr. Bruce Kaʻimiloa Chrisman figured out how it was done.
  38. ^ Bordessa, Kris (2007). "The Lost Ipu Art of Niʻihau". Craft:. 4.
  39. ^ Tava & Keale 1998, p. 105.
  40. ^ Gehrlein, Rachel (2007-12-15). "Niʻihau school first in state on solar power". The Garden Island.
  41. ^ Hawaii State Department of Education. "Niʻihau School".
  42. ^ Tava & Keale 1998, pp. 36–37.
  43. ^ Moriarty, Linda Paik (1986). Niʻihau Shell Leis. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-0998-X.
  44. ^ H.B. No. 2569. See also: "Governor signs Niihau shell bill". Pacific Business News. 2004-05-24. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  45. ^ Tava & Keale 1998, p. XV.
  46. ^ Tava & Keale 1998, pp. 66–67.
  47. ^ "Flying visitors can catch glimpse of "The Forbidden Isle"". The Globe and Mail. 1987-08-15.
  48. ^ Niihau Island
  49. ^ Christine, Rodrigo (1992-04-06). "Safaris debut on Forbidden Island". Pacific Business News.


Further reading

  • Barnhart, Sky (July 2008). "The Flowers of Niihau". Maui Nō Ka ʻOi Magazine. 12 (4). Retrieved 2009-08-17.
  • Clark, John R. K. (1990). Beaches of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. pp. 79–102. ISBN 0-8248-1260-3.
  • Conover, Adele; Gary Braasch (November 1996). "A Onetime Rancher Wages Lonely War to Save Rare Plants". Smithsonian. Smithsonian Institution. 27 (8): 114.
  • Daws, Gavan; Timothy Heap (October 1962). "Niihau a shoal of time". American Heritage. American Heritage Publishing Company. 14 (6). Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  • Laracy, Hugh (September 2001). "The Sinclairs of Pigeon bay and the Romantic 'Pre-history' of the Robinsons of Niihau". Journal of Pacific History. Routledge. 36 (2): 183–199. doi:10.1080/00223340120075560.
  • Licayan, Emalia; Nizo, Virginia; Kanahele, Elama (2007). Kanahele, Elama; Armitage, Kimo; NeSmith, Keao (eds.). Aloha Niihau: Oral Histories. Waipahu, Hawaii: Island Heritage Publishing. ISBN 1-59700-209-7.
  • May, Ernest R (1946-11-02). "They Never Leave This Real Shangri-La". The Saturday Evening Post. 219 (18): 28–67. ISSN 0048-9239.
  • Meyer, Philip A. (1998). "Niihau - Present Circumstances and Future Requirement in an Evolving Hawaiian Community". Ni'ihau, Hawai'i: Hoomana Ia Iesu Church. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Paul, Caroline (2007). East Wind, Rain. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-078076-2.
  • Stepien, Edward R. (1988) [1984]. Niʻihau, A Brief History. 1. Honolulu: Center for Pacific Islands Studies, School of Hawaiian, Asian, & Pacific Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa. pp. 1–134. hdl:10125/15544.
  • Stepien, Edward R. (1988) [1984]. Niʻihau, A Brief History. 2. Honolulu: Center for Pacific Islands Studies, School of Hawaiian, Asian, & Pacific Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa. pp. 135–268. hdl:10125/15544.

Coordinates: 21°54′N 160°10′W / 21.900°N 160.167°W

Alii nui of Kauai

The Aliʻi nui of Kauaʻi was the sovereign king or queen of the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau.

Elizabeth Sinclair

Elizabeth McHutchison Sinclair (26 April 1800 – 16 October 1892) was a Scottish homemaker, farmer and plantation owner in New Zealand and Hawaii, best known as the matriarch of the Sinclair family that bought the Hawaiian island of Niʻihau in 1864. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, she married Francis Sinclair, a ship's captain. With six children in tow, the family moved to New Zealand. Her husband and eldest son (and much of the family's property) were later lost at sea.

After years of farming, mainly at Pigeon Bay on the Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury Region of the South Island, she decided to relocate to Canada. Unhappy with the conditions she found on Vancouver Island, she considered California but instead went to Hawaii where she bought the Hawaiian island of Niʻihau for $10,000. She later bought additional lands at Hanapepe and Makaweli on the island of Kauaʻi. Her descendants, the Robinson family, continue to own and maintain the island of Ni'ihau.

Euplica varians

Euplica varians is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Columbellidae, the dove snails. It is known as Momi in Hawaii, which translates to "pearl". The shells of this species are commonly used in leis in Ni'ihau.

Halalii Lake

Hālaliʻi Lake is an ephemeral lake in the south central region of the island of Niʻihau (the smallest inhabited island in the chain). During the rainy seasons, it becomes the largest lake in the Hawaiian Islands. It is located near the smaller Halulu Lake, regarded as the largest (non-intermittent) natural lake in the Hawaiian Islands.The lake measures around 840.7 acres (340.2 ha) during the rainy seasons. During dry periods on the arid island, the lake transform into a dry reddish flat punctuated by small saline lakes. Other sources states that it has an area of 860 acres (350 ha). Sometimes it is not regarded as a lake due to the irregularity of the water level.According to Hawaiian linguists Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert, and Esther T. Mookini, the lake and the surrounding land division was named after its owner, either the Hawaiian high chief (aliʻi) or the Oʻahu trickster god Hālaliʻi. Hālaliʻi and Halulu were both aliʻi of the island of Niʻihau. A cinder cone of Haleakalā on the island of Maui also shares the same name.The Makaloa sedge (Cyperus laevigatus) grows along its shore and was traditionally used by the Native Hawaiians for weaving the Makaloa mats. The lake bed was also used for the cultivation of sugarcane where famously it grew "in the sand with only leaves protruding".The lake provides natural wetland habitats for Hawaiian bird species including the ʻalae keʻokeʻo (Hawaiian coot), aeʻo (Hawaiian stilt) and koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck).

The lake is also used for mullet farming. Hawaiians bring the baby pua mullets from the sea in barrels, release them during the rainy seasons and then catch the grown fish when the water recedes in the summer. In Halulu Lake, the fish naturally enter the lake from the sea through lava tubes when they are young.

The grown fish are often sold at market on Kauaʻi and Oʻahu.

Halulu Lake

Halulu Lake is a lake in the south central region of the island of Niʻihau (the smallest inhabited island in the chain). It is the largest (non-intermittent) natural lake in the Hawaiian Islands and ranks third in size after Hālaliʻi Lake (also on Niʻihau) and Keālia Pond (on Maui) which are intermittent bodies of water.The lake measures around 182 acres (74 ha) during the rainy seasons. During dry periods on the arid island, the shallow lake shrinks due to effect of evaporation. Other sources give it the measurement of 371 acres (150 ha).According to Hawaiian linguists Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert, and Esther T. Mookini, the lake share its name with the land division of Halulu on the island and probably originated from the man-eating halulu bird of Hawaiian mythology. Hālaliʻi and Halulu were also the names of important Hawaiian high chiefs (aliʻi) of the island of Niʻihau.Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, Niʻihau owner and rancher Aylmer Francis Robinson plowed trenches using mules and tractors into the lakes and surrounding lands on Niʻihau to prevent Japanese planes from landing and using the island as a military airfield. These efforts led to the crash landing of Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi during the Niihau incident. Many of the furrows are still visible today on the island.The lake provides natural wetland habitats for Hawaiian bird species including the ʻalae keʻokeʻo (Hawaiian coot), aeʻo (Hawaiian stilt) and koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck).

The lake is also home to mullets which naturally enter the lake from the sea through lava tubes when they are young. In ancient Hawaii, a kapu forbade Hawaiians from catching the fish in the lake except during harvest time. Modern day Niihauans use the lakes and ponds on the island for mullet farming, bringing the baby pua mullets from the sea in barrels. The grown fish are later sold at market on Kauaʻi and Oʻahu.

Hawaiian language

The Hawaiian language (Hawaiian: ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, pronounced [ʔoːˈlɛlo həˈvɐjʔi]) is a Polynesian language that takes its name from Hawaiʻi, the largest island in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed. Hawaiian, along with English, is an official language of the State of Hawaii. King Kamehameha III established the first Hawaiian-language constitution in 1839 and 1840.

For various reasons, including territorial legislation establishing English as the official language in schools, the number of native speakers of Hawaiian gradually decreased during the period from the 1830s to the 1950s. Hawaiian was essentially displaced by English on six of seven inhabited islands. In 2001, native speakers of Hawaiian amounted to less than 0.1% of the statewide population. Linguists were unsure if Hawaiian and other endangered languages would survive.Nevertheless, from around 1949 to the present day, there has been a gradual increase in attention to and promotion of the language. Public Hawaiian-language immersion preschools called Pūnana Leo were established in 1984; other immersion schools followed soon after that. The first students to start in immersion preschool have now graduated from college and many are fluent Hawaiian speakers. The federal government has acknowledged this development. For example, the Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000 changed the names of several national parks in Hawaiʻi, observing the Hawaiian spelling. However, the language is still classified as critically endangered by UNESCO.A creole language spoken in Hawaiʻi is Hawaiian Pidgin (or Hawaii Creole English, HCE). It should not be mistaken for the Hawaiian language nor for a dialect of English.

The Hawaiian alphabet has 13 letters: five vowels: a e i o u (each with a long pronunciation and a short one) and eight consonants: he ke la mu nu pi we, including a glottal stop called ʻokina.


Kamakahelei (c. 18th century - 1794), was alii nui, or Queen regnant, of the island of Kauaʻi. She was the ruling chiefess of Kauaʻi reigning from 1770 - 1794. In some historical references she has been described as a regent for her sons Keawe and Kaumualii. She was the sovereign of the Island of Kauai at the time Captain James Cook landed on its shores. The Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in the district of Puhi is named after her. This school serves the Kalaheo to Hanamaulu districts on the island of Kauai.


Kaumualiʻi (c. 1778–May 26, 1824) was the last independent aliʻi nui (supreme ruler of the island) of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau before becoming a vassal of Kamehameha I of the unified Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1810. He was the 23rd high chief of Kauaʻi, reigning from 1794–1810.

Although he was sometimes known as George Kaumualiʻi, he should not be confused with his son who is more commonly known by that name.

In Hanamaulu, the King Kaumualii Elementary School is named after Kauai's last reigning chief.

Kawika Kapahulehua

Elia Kawika David Ku'ualoha Kapahulehua (July 13, 1930 – May 17, 2007) was a Hawaiian sailor who was the first to captain an ocean-voyaging canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti in modern times.


Kaʻula Island, also called Kaʻula Rock, is a small, crescent-shaped offshore islet in the Hawaiian Islands.

Keith Robinson (environmentalist)

Keith Robinson is an American environmentalist who is the co-owner of Niʻihau, the second-smallest of the eight principal Hawaiian Islands.


Lehua Island is a small, crescent-shaped island in the Hawaiian islands, 0.7 miles (1.1 km) north of Niʻihau, due west of Kauai. The uninhabited, 279-acre (1.13 km2) barren island is a tuff cone which is part of the extinct Niʻihau volcano.

Lehua was one of the first five islands sighted by Captain James Cook in 1778 which he spelled as "Oreehoua".

Lehua Island is a Hawaii State Wildlife Sanctuary. As a restricted sanctuary, all activities are prohibited on the island without a permit. Public access to the island is restricted to areas below the high tide water mark. Lehua provides habitat for at least 16 species of seabirds, as well as non-native Pacific rats. A population of European rabbits had lived on the island for many years but were removed in 2005.When weather and wave conditions permit crossings from Kauai, Lehua is a noted destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. It is also well known for an unusual geological formation dubbed "the keyhole". Located in one of the crescent's narrow arms, this is a tall, thin notch cut from one side, all the way through to the other side of the arm.

The United States Coast Guard maintains Lehua Rock Light (a lighthouse) on Kaunuakalā, at 704 feet (215 m) the highest point of the island.

List of beaches in Hawaii

This is a list of notable Hawaiʻi beaches sorted by island alphabetically, clockwise around each island, listed by beach name followed by location.

List of high schools in Hawaii

This is a complete list of high schools in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi.

List of islands of Hawaii

The following is a list of islands of Hawaii. The state of Hawaii, consisting of the Hawaiian Islands, has the fourth-longest ocean coastline of the 50 states (after Alaska, Florida, and California) at 750 miles (1,210 km). It is the only state that consists entirely of islands with 6,422.62 mi² (16,635 km²) of land. The Hawaiian Island archipelago extends some 1,500 miles (2,400 km) from the southernmost island of Hawaiʻi to the northernmost Kure Atoll. Despite being within the boundaries of Hawaii, Midway Atoll, comprising several smaller islands, is not included as an island of Hawaii, because it is classified as a United States Minor Outlying Islands and is therefore administered by the federal government and not the state.

Hawaii is divided into five counties: Hawaiʻi, Honolulu, Kalawao, Kauaʻi, and Maui. Each island is included in the boundaries and under the administration of one of these counties. Honolulu County, despite being centralized, administers the outlying Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Kalawao (the smallest county in the United States in terms of land area) and Maui, both occupying the island of Molokaʻi, are the only counties that share the same island. Hawaii is typically recognized by its eight main islands: Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, and Niʻihau.

The state of Hawaii officially recognizes only 137 islands in the state which includes four islands of the Midway Atoll. An island in this sense may also include much smaller and typically uninhabited islets, rocks, coral reefs, and atolls. For that reason, this article lists 152 separate islands (but also names smaller island chains such as the French Frigate Shoals, which includes 13 islands of its own). Some of these are too small to appear on maps, and others, such as Maro Reef, only appear above the water's surface during times of low tide. Others, such as Shark and Skate islands, have completely eroded away.

The majority of the Hawaiian Islands are uninhabited with Niʻihau being the westernmost island with a permanent population. All the islands west of Niʻihau—those categorized as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands—are unpopulated and recently incorporated into the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The island of Oʻahu has 953,207 residents (about 70% of the state's population), and the island of Hawaiʻi is by far the largest island with an area of 4,028 mi² (10,432 km²)—62.7% of the state's land area. The islands were first settled as early as AD 300 by Polynesian long-distance navigators. British captain James Cook was the first European to land on the islands in January 1778. The islands, which were governed independently up until 1898 were then annexed by the United States as a territory from 1898–1959. On August 21, 1959, they were collectively admitted as the 50th state.

The islands are the exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain, formed by volcanic activity over a hotspot in the Earth's mantle. The archipelago formed as the Pacific plate moved slowly northwestward over a hotspot in the mantle at about 32 miles (51 km) per million years. The islands in the northwest of the archipelago are older and typically smaller, due to longer exposure to erosion. The age of the archipelago has been estimated using potassium-argon dating methods. It is estimated that the northwesternmost Kure Atoll is the oldest at approximately 28 million years, while the southeasternmost Hawaiʻi Island is approximately 400,000 years old and still subjected to ongoing volcanism—one of the most active hotspots on Earth.

Mākaha Sons

The Mākaha Sons of Ni'ihau / The Mākaha Sons are a Hawaiian musical group formed in 1976 on the island of Oahu by Jerome Koko, Louis "Moon" Kauakahi, Skippy Kamakawiwo'ole, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, and Sam Gray. The band started its career as an opening act at a small nightclub called Uptown Yokos. The group has changed members several times; Skippy Kamakawiwo'ole died of weight-related health problems in 1982. The name was changed to the Mahaka Sons after Israel Kamakawiwo'ole abruptly quit the group in 1993.

The Mākaha Sons of Niihau and the Makaha Sons have released 21 CDs, and produced a DVD on their own record label. They have won Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards and Hawaii Music Awards. They produced their own signature concert, "Take a Walk in the Country," in Hawaii for many years. They produce and promote young artists in traditional Hawaiian music.

In commemoration of the group’s 30th anniversary, the Sons reflect back to the times and places they have had the privilege and honor to have been a part of. Their performances have taken them to such prestigious places as Carnegie Hall in New York City, Washington, D. C., and in Hawaii, with performances for both the President and Vice-President of the United States. They have also appeared on the movie, North Shore and have been featured guests on shows as The Captain and Tennille Show and NBC's Today Show with Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric. Locally they have appeared on shows such as Island Music, Island Heart and Emme’s Island Moments, and have accompanied American musician Kenny Loggins for his CD release party at Ala Moana Center. The Makaha Sons formed the Makaha Sons Foundation in 2004, which supports variety of organizations, funding some of Hawaii’s police officers, funding families afflicted with illnesses, and providing scholarships each year to a selected high school senior.

Niihau incident

The Niʻihau incident occurred on December 7–13, 1941, when Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi (西開地 重徳 Nishikaichi Shigenori) crash-landed his Zero on the Hawaiian island of Niʻihau after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Imperial Japanese Navy had designated Niʻihau as an uninhabited island for damaged aircraft to land and await rescue.

The island's Native Hawaiian residents were initially unaware of the attack, but apprehended Nishikaichi when the gravity of the situation became apparent. Nishikaichi then sought and received the assistance of the three Hawaiian locals of Japanese descent on the island in overcoming his captors, finding weapons, and taking several hostages. Eventually, Nishikaichi was killed by Niihauans Benehakaka "Ben" Kanahele and Kealoha "Ella" Kanahele; Ben Kanahele was wounded in the process, and one of Nishikaichi's supporters, Yoshio Harada, committed suicide.

Ben Kanahele was decorated for his part in stopping the takeover, but Ella Kanahele received no official recognition.

Puʻuwai, Hawaii

Puʻuwai (literally, "heart" in Hawaiian) is an unincorporated community in Kauai County, Hawaii, United States, and the only settlement on the island of Niʻihau. It is at the western coast of the small island, and Native Hawaiians who live in this village speak the Hawaiian language. The community lives as they did hundreds of years ago, and the modern amenities of life are extremely limited. Access to the town, as well as the whole island, is limited to Niʻihau residents; only official visitors and invited guests are permitted. Puʻuwai has a one-room schoolhouse.

Niʻihau is located about 29 km (18 mi) west of Kauaʻi.

Puʻuwai is the westernmost community in the principal Hawaiian Islands.

The Garden Island

The Garden Island is a daily newspaper based in Lihue, Hawaii, covering the islands of Kauai and Niihau. The Garden Island began publication in 1902. It was formerly owned by Scripps League Newspapers, which was acquired by Pulitzer in 1996; Lee Enterprises acquired Pulitzer in 2005. Oahu Publications Inc., publisher of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, acquired The Garden Island newspaper from Lee Enterprises in January 2013.

Climate data for Puʻuwai
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 79
Average low °F (°C) 65
Average rainfall inches (mm) 2.96
Source: The Weather Channel [9]
 State of Hawaii
Main islands
Sovereignty Movement
Islands, municipalities, and communities of Kauai County, Hawaii, United States
Notable eruptions
and vents


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