Graduation lei tutorial: Haku lei


Watch our tutorial for instructions on how to make a simple haku lei poʻo.

Graduating from high school or college is an important accomplishment for many people, and at graduations, people give leis of all kinds, including ones made of yarn, fresh flowers, and even money, but the trending lei of the 21st Century is the haku lei.

A haku lei poʻo is a lei that wraps around the head and sits like a halo on top.

They’re fresh, beautiful, and oh-so-native, but have you ever wondered how it’s made?

Wonder no more! Here is a tutorial on how to make a haku lei in 25 minutes for any celebratory event!


  • Leaf sheath from the apparent trunk of a banana plant (like a strip of soft bark)
  • Paper bag
  • Spray bottle
  • Scissors
  • Raffia
  • Fillers (ti leaves, lauaʻe, ʻakia, etc.)
  • Flowers of your choice

Gather and Prep:

  1. Use scissors to cut a long (20-inch) piece of the brown, dead leaf that hangs off the banana tree stump. (Note: do not cut a piece wider than four inches.)
  2. Measure the long piece of the banana leaf for fit by wrapping it around your head and making sure the ends meet in the back.
  3. Partially fill the paper bag with floral and leafy fillers of your choice. (Note: cut pieces of about three-to-four inches)
  4. Wash and clean the fillers by rinsing a handful under a faucet for a few seconds to get rid of dirt and little critters.
  5. Try to keep a 3-inch stem on cut flowers.
  6. Lightly spray the flowers, so they are hydrated and less likely to start wilting.
  7. Cut off excess leaves from the flowers, and separate fillers into piles by type.

Making the Lei:

  1. First, take a long strand of raffia and tie it in a knot around one end of the banana leaf. (Note: as you make the lei, hold the banana leaf vertically and work your way from top to bottom until you reach the end)
  2. Then, take a piece of filler and place it on top of the tied raffia at the beginning of the banana leaf.
  3. Next, wrap the raffia around the filler to hold it in place.
  4. Add an inch of fillers, then, take one of your flowers and place it where you would put the next filler. (Note: assemble your lei on a flat surface. The lei will start to go crooked if not straightened.)
  5. Once your raffia is coming to an end, tie another long strand to it to continue.
  6. Follow steps 2-5 until you’ve reached the end or near the end of your strip of banana trunk.
  7. Once you’ve reached the end of the banana trunk strip, wrap raffia around the end about five times. Make a loop with your fingers and pull the raffia strand through to secure the lei.
  8. Tie the ends of the raffia together after wrapping it around your head.

*If you are not using the lei until later, lightly spray it and refrigerate;

Now, you’ve got your beautiful Haku lei! Check out the tutorial video featuring senior Saje Pedroza-Kanemitsu for a visual how-to.