Hawaiian Artifacts Returned After 237 YearsMarch 14, 2016, 3:00 PM HST (Updated March 14, 2016, 1:55 PM)
On Saturday, a historic moment took place when Hawai’i Island Chief Kalaniōpu‘u’s ahu ‘ula, or feathered cloak, and mahiole, or helmet, was returned to Hawai’i after 237 years.
A Hawaiian Airlines flight from New Zealand transported the cloak and helmet. They were welcomed during a brief ceremony in Honolulu.
The artifacts were being held at the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and will now be displayed at the Bishop Museum.
Prior to making it to the New Zealand museum, the ‘ahu ‘ula and mahiole were taken to England after being gifted to Captain Cook in 1779. The feathered cloak and helmet originally left possession of Chief Kalaniōpu‘u when he gifted the items out of a gesture of goodwill to Captain Cook, who ported in Kealakekua Bay. After leaving the islands, the ‘ahu ‘ula and mahiole were passed between various museum owners and collectors.
The artifacts eventually were under the care of Lord St. Oswald, who gave his entire collection to the Dominion Museum in New Zealand in 1912. That museum was the predecessor of Te Papa Tongarewa, and has been in the museum’s care ever since.