Today we feature a children’s game that was contributed to the collection by noted photographer and ethnologist, Theodore Kelsey.

[Photo: Hawaiian children; Hawaiʻi. Ca. 1915. SP_77744.]

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Hele i kai o Pīheka,

Go down to Pīheka,

Hele aku au a Pana‘ewa,

And I go to Pana‘ewa,

Kani kua a ka ‘ōhi‘a,

The ‘ōhi‘a anvil is heard,

E ala a‘e ‘oe e moe loa nei,

Awake you sleepy head,

Aia ka lā iō Uli,

The sun is at Uli,

Uliuli ka ua lelehuna Hōpoe.

Misty and dark is the fine rains of Hōpoe.

[MS SC Roberts 4.2, Pg. 64]

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