Today’s mele was contributed to the collection by a man named William Kualu of Makaweli Valley, Kauaʻi. According to Lahilahi Webb this mele was written for the district of Waiʻanae and parts of ʻEwa.

[Photo: School house; Waiʻanae, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi.; ca. 1880s. SP_96549.]
(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Huli Hālawa i ka ua o Wahiawā,

Hālawa turns toward the rain of Wahiawa,

Halo nā lima o ka hau o Kalena,

The hands of the dew reaches toward Kalena,

Holu ka polopua o Kawaiopua,

The flower clusters of Kawaiopua sways,

Ōpū ē.

They swell into bloom.

E hele nō e.

I go now.

He aha lā ka mea nele ʻo ka uka?

Does the upland lack anything?

Kuahine lāua me ka Lalena,

The Kuahine and the Lalena rains,

He mau koko kahe i luna po ka lāʻau,

Resemble blood dropping on the treetops,

Ke hoʻokahekahe aʻela e kahe i kai o ʻEwa.

The water flows, flows toward the sea of ʻEwa.

ʻO ʻEwa ē!

This is ʻEwa!

No ʻEwa ka iʻa pāpā i ke kanaka,

To ʻEwa belongs the “fish” that forbids men,

Mai walaʻau aʻe ʻoe o makani auaneʻi,

Not to speak lest a breeze arises,

Kilikilioe i ka pua ē.

Gently swaying the flowers.

[MS SC Roberts 3.8 , Pg. 189-190]

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