(The following notes and mele translation provided by Mary Kawena Pukui)

This chant is in two ʻoki, or parts, both of which were used in hula dancing. This is the second part, which begins with the Tahitian words “Aita ʻoe e parau,” or “You have nothing to say.”
According to my informant, Keahi Luahine, the chant was composed at the request of Kamāmalu herself, and she also had a part in putting some of the words together. After her engagement to Lunalilo was broken, she became interested in a white man to the disgust of her two brothers, Alexander Liholiho and Lot Kapuāiwa. They voiced their disapproval in no uncertain terms, while she answered with this chant. “Russia” and “England” referred to her brother Alexander, and “London has no fear of the great size of Asia,” was her own lack of fear for her large stout brother, Lot Kapuāiwa. Again she refers to herself as “soldier of Scotland.”

People. Victoria Kamamalu. SP_48773

At the time of the composition of this two-part chant, there were some Tahitian chiefesses here, Ninito and others, who were very good friends of our Hawaiian royalty. They learned some Tahitian phrases and used them in some of their compositions, especially dirges

A ʻai ka manu i luna” is a very old expression meaning “the birds eat above.” A beautiful person was compared to an ʻōhiʻa tree in bloom and laden with lehua blossoms. The birds attracted by the flowers come to sip the honey. Therefore, the expression means to look beautiful and in that way attract the admiration of the beholders.
“Snowy blossom” and “Iceland” refer to the white lover that roused the ire of her brothers.

A i ka ʻoe palau (Aita ʻoe e parau)

You have nothing to say

Noʻu nō ʻo ʻĀinahau.

Iceland is mine.

A ka wai o Nolewai,

At the waters of Norway,

Pau mai koʻu palena.

Your boundary is reached.

Hao au a linohau

I dress my prettiest

A ʻai ka manu i luna.

And look my best.
Kilohi iho kuʻu hana
I glance about me

A he nani kō Hukekona

And see the charm of Hudson

Ke kai kūʻono a ʻo Papine
Up to Baffin bay;

Pau mai kou palena.

Your limit is reached

Haʻina mai ka puana

This ends my chant

Kamāmalu nō he inoa.

In praise of Kamāmalu.

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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