Contributor, P.K. Kuhi, Kalihi Kai, Kauaʻi.

Composed for King David Kalākaua when he went to the United States to make a treaty whereby products from Hawaii would enter the States duty free and the United States would use Pearl Harbor as a coaling station. He ascended to the throne in 1874 and went to the United States soon after. Kalākaua was always interested in increasing the Hawaiian population. “Hoʻoulu lāhui,” or “growth of the people” (that is, the Hawaiian people), was the aim of his kingdom.

(Excerpt and mele translation provided by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Aia ʻo Kalani i Maleka

The King has gone to America

I ke kuʻikahi pānaʻi like.

To seek a reciprocity treaty.

I ola nou aʻe Hawaiʻi,

To give life to you, O Hawaiʻi,

No ke au hoʻoulu lāhui.

For this time of increasing the population.

Ke ui aʻe nei ka manaʻo

The idea has entered the mind

E hui Hawaiʻi me Maleka.

To have Hawaiʻi and America join hands,

I mau ʻoe i ka ʻihikapu

That you may continue your sacred duties

I ka wehiwehi o hale aliʻi.

In the beautiful surroundings of the palace.

He liʻi nui nō Davida

David is a great ruler,

Ua noho pono i ke kalaunu

He is occupying the throne.

Haʻina ka puana i lohea

This is the end of praise, let all hear

ʻO Kalani Davida he inoa.

The name of King David.

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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