What is a KÄ«hei?

UH Hilo graduates are offered a kīhei to wear along with their graduation regalia. A kīhei is a traditional Hawaiian wrap used to mark formal ceremonies in Hawaiʻi. We are pleased to continue this tradition at our commencement ceremonies.

Graduate seated with KÄ«hei
2018 Fall Commencement photo
Women pose in their KÄ«hei
2018 Fall Commencement photo

Each KÄ«hei is Special

Our UH Hilo design incorporates

  • the Hilo braid,
  • the three mountains of Maunakea, Maunaloa, and Kilauea;
  • Niho manō (Shark Teeth);
  • and Kanilehua; the mist like rain for which Hilo is famous.

The red kīhei is synonymous with our island connection to lava and fire.

Three graduates wearing KÄ«hei at the 2019 commencement
2019 Spring Commencement photo

The KÄ«hei Protocol

There are protocols when wearing and maintaining a kīhei. The UH Hilo kīhei will be knotted on the left shoulder of the wearer.

The use of the kīhei is to mark a formal occasion or ceremony. Therefore...

  • It should be removed if you need to use the restroom before the ceremony begins and be re-tied.
  • At the conclusion of your commencement activities, the kÄ«hei should...
    • Be neatly folded and stored in a bag or container or hung in an appropriate space for future use.
    • Never double as a pāreu, curtain, or tablecloth.
    • Not be tied around your neck as a cape or worn as a head wrap.

KÄ«hei Request Form

Due to current circumstances, we would like to invite you and your families in this year's ceremony. The virtual Kīhei Tying Ceremony will require the help of family member(s) or someone you (the student) will designate to tie you into your kīhei.

Please bring your family member(s) or designee with you to orientation

All registered students as well as their family member(s)/designee are required to attend the orientation. All attendees will be oriented on the following:

  • Why are kÄ«hei important and significant to graduation?
  • Detailed explanation of the traditional design printed on your kÄ«hei and how it signifies your success
  • How to tie your kÄ«hei (mainly for family members/designee)
  • How to take care of your kÄ«hei before and after graduation
  • We will also answer any questions at the end of the orientation

Downloadable Infographic

Kihei Infographic