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Collection highlights

Koe Kahoa Hihi mai i Niue (The beautiful kahoa hihi of Niue Island)

In celebration of Niue Language Week (16 Oct – 22 Oct 2016) we have installed three kahoa hihi in our Te Kākano display case. Adorra Sifaline Misikea selected the works and wrote both the English and Niue language labels.

Hihi (neck ornament), 1952-1963, Niue

Gift of Fritz and Jean van Westendorp, 2004Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira AM 56283

Ko e kahoa hihi koe taha he tau tufuga fakamotu ha Niue ne tui aki e tau fua hihi ago ikiiki. Fuluola mo e mahikihiki ka tui kehe kakia.

Kua fa fakaaoga he tau fifine kehe tau aho mauhoana mo e tau aho fiafia fakamotu. Fakaaoga foki he tau taane ke lata ia moe ha lautolu a tau tauteuteaga koli. Ko e tauteaga he hihi koe mena uka moe loa. Oko mua e tau hihi he feutu ti toka ke fai magaaho to fufulu moe fakamea.

Kua eke e taoga mahuiga nai mo mena fakalofa ke foaki kehe tau tagata takitaha, tau lilifu moe tau tagata fenoga evaeva mai kehe motu pihia kia lautolu ka oatu kehe moe motu. Ko e taha a nai he tau koloa uho kua maeke ke fakakite aki e fulufuluola moe lilifu he motu.

Tohia e: Adorra Sifaline Misikea

The kahoa hihi is a beautiful Niuean neck garland made from strands of tiny distinctively yellow snail shells. They are often worn by women at weddings and celebrations and during cultural performances. Men also wear the kahoa hihi as part of their performance costume.

The process of preparing the shells for use is relatively lengthy. The tiny shells are first hand picked from seaside cliffs and rock faces, followed by a method of cleaning and bleaching.

The kahoa hihi holds significant cultural values and elicits great cultural pride for Niueans. In a political context, the kahoa hihi serves as a representation of Niue and is often presented as a gift to individuals, groups, government officials, and dignitaries upon arrival to or departure from Niue. As a symbol of identity, the kahoa hihi depicts the warmth and beauty of Niue.

Written by Adorra Sifaline Misikea

Listen to Sifaline read this story in the Niue Language

Cite this article

Misikea, Adorra Sifaline. Koe Kahoa Hihi mai i Niue (The beautiful kahoa hihi of Niue Island). Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 18 October 2016. Updated: 14 November 2016.
URL: www.aucklandmuseum.com/collections-research/collections/explore-highlights/koe-kahoa-hihi-mai-i-niue

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