Happy Mele Monday!
Today’s featured composition is performed as a hula paʻi umauma, or a chest-slapping hula. Starting in Hilo, this mele journeys through various scenic points across the Hawaiian Islands.

[Photo: Sailing vessel in Hilo Bay with Coconut Island at right and canoe in the foreground; Hilo, Hawaiʻi. SP 205196] (Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

A Hilo wau e hoʻolulu ka lehua,

I saw at Hilo, the many lehua,

A Wailuku lā i ka lua kanaka,

At Wailuku the pit where man falls in,

A Leleiwi lā au i ke kai,

At Leleiwi I swam in the sea,

A Panaʻewa lā i ka ulu lehua ē,

At Panaʻewa, amid groves of lehua,

A Molokaʻi lā i ke ala kahi,

On Molokaʻi I walked its single road,

A Haili lā i ke kula manu ē,

At Haili, the haunts of birds,

Ke kula o Kalaʻe, wela i ka lā,

I saw the plain of Kalaʻe scourched by the sun,

Maunaloa lā i ka lua koʻi,

And the adze quarry at Maunaloa,

Nā hala o Nihoa, he māpuna lā,

The hala of Nihoa such a fragrance gives!

A Koʻiahi au i ka maile lauliʻi,

Koʻiahi land of the small leaved maile,

A Mākua lā i ke one ʻōpiopio,

At Mākua, the virgin sand,

E holu ana ke kai o lalo,

And the ocean surging below,

He wahine ʻāpoʻipoʻi e noho ana,

A woman crouched by the sea,

A Kīlauea i ke awa ʻula.

Of Kīlauea, a brick red bay.

[Call number: MS SC Roberts 5.3, Pg. 49]

[Audio: HAW 1.1b, Track 3]

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