Ni’ihau island of Hawaii is special when it comes to the flowers of that island. Just like the other seven islands, each has a flower for that island. For instance, Hawai’i island is the Red Pua Lehua, that was well loved by Pele’s youngest sibling Hi’iakaikapoliopele. Maui has it’s little Pink Rose or Lokelani. Oahu, the Gathering place has the lovely orange Pua Ilima. The island of Kauai is the green Mokihana berry. On Molokai it is the Pua Kukui, Lana’i is the Yellow Kauna’oa, Kaho’olawe is the Silver Hinahina. But when it comes to Ni’ihau their flower is the Pupu or tiny seashells. What makes Ni’ihau leis special is that they are made of shells and not flowers.

Each Island Has It’s own Pua

The Niihau shell lei was the island’s flowers, and the lei was styled after floral forms– like the pikake (Arabian jasmine) shell lei, which looks like a string of pikake flowers. There are many different types of tiny shells used to create each style of lei– ranging from a single shell, one-strand lei to a multiple-strand lei with a variety of shells in various colors.

Different Styles, Many Colors

The Niihau shell lei which can cost more than $10,000 is currently to be the prime resource of earnings on the island. With all of the individuals relocating away, there are some Ni’ihauans left to gather these tiny shells. This suggests that there aren’t many individuals that are continuing the art of making the shell leis. Plus, there are few knowledgeable craftsmen left to pass on the art of these extraordinary leis.
When an art piece that you might purchase for 5 bucks on the road might come to be a distant memory. For now, the leis are still offered as well as still fairly preferred. Right here are some pictures from the existing exhibition at the Bishop Museum.

Rare Beauties of Ni’ihau

Kuana Torres Kahele with his Ni’ihau Ohana