Contributor- Iwikauikaua, Nāpōʻopoʻo, South Kona, Hawaiʻi.

“This chant was used when a person approached hālau. If the password was thrice uttered by one who wished to enter and was ignored by the master within the hālau, then the one who uttered the password could utter this chant if he chose. If he did, he departed as soon as he had spoken. The mana within the hālau was believed then to leave and depart with him. The altar wilted and died because the hula gods were gone. Therefore, the hula masters were careful to reply to the password.”

(Excerpt and mele translation provided by Mary Kawena Pukui)

E kū ana au e hele ē,

I stand ready to depart,

E lau nā maka he ʻino,

With many foes before me,

ʻO ka poʻe aloha ʻole ʻo lākou nei ē.

And pitiless people here.

E mana kā iaʻu e hele,

The mana I take with me as I go,

E hele nō e.

I go now.

[MS SC Roberts 2.3, pg. 83b-85a]

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