Ni‘ihau — Pele’s Hawaiian landfall — a history

Steven Gentry


Ni‘ihau basks like a whale — or in some lights, like a jewel — across the sea from Kaua‘i. Fewer than a hundred Niihauans now live there, but it is the spiritual home to many more elsewhere in Hawai‘i. Long known as the ‘Forbidden Islands’, it is seldom visited by outsiders.

SKU: 9781991153845 Categories: , , , ,


The volcanic island of Ni‘ihau arose steaming and hissing from the ocean millions of years ago, but by the time the goddess Pele’s canoe landed on a golden Niihauan beach its fires were no more. In time Ni‘ihau and the other Hawaiian islands were settled by Polynesian people. Then came missionaries, and after them ranchers. In 1864 Ni‘ihau was sold by the king of Hawai‘i to the Sinclair family, whose descendants still own it today. Steven Gentry traces all this history and weaves it into an intimate and engrossing account of this intriguing island.

About the author

Steven Gentry, a Kiwi, shuttled between Honolulu and Wellington for nine years while researching this book. His attraction to little-known islands led him first to write a history of the Kermadecs (which lie half-way between New Zealand and Tonga), published in 2013. This history of the so-called ‘Forbidden Island’ is his second book.

Steve’s original training as a civil engineer in New Zealand and at Berkeley, California, took him to out-of-the-way corners of the world as a consultant on agricultural development projects. Many of these were in the islands of the Pacific. Throughout his career he has been fascinated by the varied natural world we live in and the peoples that occupy it.

On retirement form the corporate world Steve’s interests turned to historical writing, and chance encounters led to the Kermadecs book and now this comprehensive history of Ni‘ihau.

Additional information

Dimensions 22 × 3 × 27 mm

You may also like…