Niʻihau Place Names


By John R. K. Clark

cover image of Niʻihau Place Names

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The story of Ni'ihau has been told many times by many people, but Ni'ihau Place Names adds new information to the island's history from a unique source: Hawaiian-language newspapers. From 1834 to 1948, approximately 125,000 pages of Native Hawaiian expression were printed in more than 100 different newspapers. John R. K. Clark has gathered and edited a large collection of invaluable articles that recorded daily life on Niʻihau, events and topics of interest, and the island's place names. Additionally, Keao NeSmith, a Native Hawaiian of Kaua'i and an applied linguist, translator, and researcher fluent in 'ōlelo Hawai'i, translated each passage into English. Most of these excerpts have not appeared in any other publication.
Ni'ihau is unique in the state of Hawai'i because it is the only island that is entirely privately owned. In 1864, Kamehameha V, the monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, sold the island to the Sinclairs, a wealthy immigrant family looking to establish a ranching business. Descendants of the Sinclairs still own the island today. Diverse opinions about the sale of Niʻihau were published in newspapers across the Hawaiian Islands, and this book traces the development and aftershocks of that historic event.
Ni'ihau Place Names contains over thirty kanikau (dirges, poetic chants) written and published from 1845 to 1931 to honor deceased Niʻihau residents. These compositions of deep emotion are treasuries of language, history, genealogy, cultural knowledge, and especially place names. Another important contribution in this volume is the identification of 'ōlelo no'eau (proverbs and poetical sayings) with demonstrations of their use in everyday conversation. The book is divided into two main sections. "Ni'ihau Place Names" is an alphabetical list of prominent place names on the island, accompanied by relevant passages in Hawaiian and their English translations. The list also includes Lehua, the small island near the northwest tip of Ni'ihau. "Ni'ihau History" is an additional collection of articles that includes many lesser-known place names and elucidates other topics deemed worthy by reporters and contributors of the time. Following the main text, readers will find helpful indexes of general terms, place names, and personal names.

Niʻihau Place Names