[Photo: Alice Kaina of Niʻihau demonstrating string figure “Pae Mahu”; Hawaiʻi. SP_85918.]Contributor- Theodore Kelsey, Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Mele Hei.

Ka hue wai a Kaʻula,

The water gourd of Kaʻula,

Kiʻi mai nei au i ka hue wai,

I have come for the water bottle,

ʻAʻohe hue wai, ua nāhāhā.

There is no water bottle, it is broken.

Kiʻi mai nei au i ka nuku,

I have come for the neck,

ʻAʻohe nuku, ua hakihaki.

There is no neck, it was broken off.

Kiʻi mai nei au i ka ʻāpana.

I have come for the pieces.

ʻAʻohe ʻāpana ua weluwelu.

There are no pieces they are smashed to bits.

Kiʻi mai nei au i ka ʻaha,

I have come for the cord,

ʻAʻohe ʻaha, ua mokumoku.

There is no cord, it is all broken.

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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