ʻO Pupuhi Kū Kalani

Contributor- Samuela Akoni Mika, Waiākea Homesteads, Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Hula lāʻau [stick dance], learned from his parents on Kauaʻi. This mele is said to date from the time of Kamehameha I. This is mele inoa for Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa).

King Kamehameha V, Hawaii. Ca. 1865.
Image number SP 11672

(Mele translation provided by Mary Kawena Pukui)

ʻO pupuhi kū Kalani,

The heavenly one lights a fire,

ʻO ʻaʻā ka moku,

The island is set ablaze,

ʻUlaʻula ka honua, ahi pūnonolo,

The earth is reddened, the fire blazes red,

Ka nonolo ke ahi pūpū ʻau lima.

Fierce is the fire started by the fire sticks in his hand.

E holo oko ana kānaka,

It causes men to flee in terror,

E umuumu ola ana i luna o ke ahi,

Lest they be roasted alive in the fire,

ʻO ke ahi hoʻi a kū ai lani mamao.

The fire of the most high chief.

ʻO ka uhu ma ka pali ka hākōa kalani,

Like a strong uhu fish by the coastal cliffs is the chief,

ʻO Kalanimehameha ʻekahi, Kalani.

The heavenly one, Kamehameha the first.

Haʻi ʻole ke kapu o nei aliʻi,

None could trespass the kapu of this chief.

Kū kapu pūnohu ʻula,

The sacred one, for whom the spreading rainbow,

Kaʻi ka pālālā ua poʻipū lālalani,

The moving clouds that move and cover the sky,

Ka ua koko kaʻa lewalewa,

The low-lying rainbow, the hanging clouds,

Ke aweawe ʻula i luna o ka maka,

The red streaks before the face of the sky,

Ka lani nui ʻeleʻele i luna

The darkened heavens above.

ʻO Kapuāiwa ka lani he inoa.

This is a praise for the chief Kapuāiwa.

[MS SC Roberts 2.5, pg. 42b-44a]

Mele are an invaluable primary resource for Hawaiian scholarship and cultural connection. The Welo Hou: Building Connections to the Roberts Mele Collection project, funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, will improve the digitization, indexing, and accessibility of a unique and treasured collection of mele dating from pre-Western contact to the early 1900s. This pilot project will serve as a model for improved access to and increased engagement with the Bishop Museum Library & Archives’ other mele collections.

Welo Hou, or to unfurl once again, aims to provide more opportunities for researchers of all levels of Hawaiian language and cultural fluency to access the Roberts Collection with ease, and honors the connections between Hawaiian voices of the past and our community of the present.


This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services NG-04-17-0218-17

2018-07-04T08:22:24+00:00

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