Contributor- Kainoa Kawelu, Waiʻōhinu, Kaʻū, Hawaiʻi. He mele hula for Kalākaua. Learned in Kaʻū.
“Composed by Nahinu, cousin of Kapʻiolani, when the King was about to make a world tour in 1881. According to Lahilahi Webb, nurse and close companion Liliʻuokalani, the chant was composed as a sort of prayer, wishing him success and happiness on his long journey.”
(Translation and excerpt by Mary Kawena Pukui)
Iā ʻoe e ka lā e ʻalohi nei,
To you, O sun, shining down,
Ma nā welelau o ka honua.
Throughout the ends of the world.
Hōʻike aʻe ʻoe i kou nani,
Show forth your beauty,
I ka mālamalama ʻoi kelakela.
The greatest of all lights.
Nau i noiʻi nowelo aku
It is you who delve and seek
Pau nā pali paʻa i ka ʻike ʻia.
Till the solid cliffs yield their secrets.
ʻIke ʻoe i ka nani o Himela,
You’ll see the beauty of the Himalayas,
Ka hene wai ʻolu lawe mālie,
The gentle slopes as you pass by,
Mauna i lohia me ke onaona,
A mountain rich with fragrance,
Kaulana e ka nani me ke kiʻekiʻe.
Famed for its beauty and height.
Kiʻekiʻe ʻo Kalani noho mai i luna,
High above sits my royal chief, The birds sip until they stagger, satisfied,
Kākaʻa lelehu ka maka i ka wai o Kaiona ē,
Their eyes stray sleepily toward the water of Kaiona,
Nau i ʻaʻe nā kapu o Kahiki,
You who tread the sacred places of Kahiki,
Hehihehi kū ana i ka huku ʻale
Treading on the rising billows
I ke kai hālaʻi lana mālie.
And over the calm, tranquil sea.
Kiʻina ʻia aku nā pae moku,
Reach out to the other lands,
I hoa kuilima nou ē Kalani,
For companions to go hand in hand with you,
Ma ia mau alanui malihini
Over those unfamiliar trails
Āu i ʻōlali hoʻokahi ai.
That you undertake to walk alone.
ʻO ka lama o ke ao kou kōkua,
The light of the day shall be your help,
Hōkūloa nō kou alakaʻi.
The morning star your guide,
Lilo i mea ʻole nā ʻenemi,
That your enemies be turned to naught,
Lehelehe ʻeuʻeu hana loko ʻino.
The heartless ones jabbering mouths.
He ola ʻo Kalani a mau aku,
Long may you live, O heavenly one,
A kau i ke ao mālamalama.
Till you reach the world of light,
Haʻina ʻia mai ana ka puana
This is the end of my chant
No Kalākaua nō he inoa.
In honor of Kalākaua.
[MS SC ROBERTS 2.6 p. 134b-136a]
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