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Kahelelani (born in the late 17th century) was the High Chief or ruler of the island of Ni'ihau, Hawaii. He was the son of High Chief Kanehuanui and High Chiefness Kaluahineloa. The small shells used in Ni'ihau lei were named after him.


  • "History of Ni'ihau, Hawaii - the Forbidden Hawaiian Island". Ni`ihau Cultural Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 17 April 2010. After the islands were inhabited by the early Polynesians who voyaged countless miles across the vast Pacific ocean, Kahelelani became the first great ali‘i (chief) of the island 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. 
  • "Kaho'olawe and Ni'ihau: Ni'ihau 's history". Waimea.com. Retrieved 16 April 2010. Kahelelani was the first ruler of the island, way before the Hawaiian archipelago was united under the reign of Kamehameha the Great. Ni’ihau was among the last islands to be conquered by Kamehameha the Great, although he had attempted to do so more than once. 
  • Wight, Kahikāhealani (2006). Illustrated Hawaiian dictionary. U.S.: Bess Press Incorporated. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-57306-239-8. Retrieved 17 April 2010. kahelelani small shell of various colors, often used in Ni'ihau lei, named for an ancient chief of Ni'haua. 
  • Moriarty, Linda Paik; Leland A. Cook (1986). Niʻihau shell leis. University of Hawai'i Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-8248-0998-0. Retrieved 17 April 2010. Kahelelani, "the royal going", were perhaps so named because they were used by chiefs. Kahelelani also was the name of an ancient chief.