Hometown Tales Podcast

Monday, December 29, 2008

Niihua, HI - The Forbidden Island

They call it the “Forbidden Island”. Although for a hefty price you can take a private helicopter tour, run by the islands owners, for a quick lunch on the island.

The Robinson Family has been a prominent family in Hawaiian history for decades. They own large amounts of property all throughout the Hawaiian islands. Through elite marriages, pineapple farming and sugar cane production they have acculumated vast wealth and prestige over the islands. The family purchased Niihua from the Kingdom of Hawai’i in the late 1800s.

Although the Robinson’s are very private, sometimes eccentric and often shy away from much press, they have engaged in many philanthrophic acts on the islands.
One being the forbidden island of Niihau. The island has always had a small population of residents and today only houses a little under 200 native hawaiians. All the residents still speak Native Hawaiian (the only island to do so) and maintain many original customs and traditions of Hawaii. Most of which are self-sufficient.

At one time the small population of the island were all employed by the farmlands and pastures. The Robinsons shut those farmlands down for lack of profit but have been working to find ways to employ the residents while still preserving the culture.
Keith Robinson still tends to many of the native plants and trees on the island. Often removing any plants or species that are not native to the area.

Although the future preservation of the island is in question, today it is still the most untouched, untamed and reminiscent of the ancient Hawaiian kingdom.