Contributor-Antone Kaoo, Honolulu, Oʻahu. 

“This is the mele maʻi of Antone Kaoo, of Waialua and Honolulu. He was a mixture of Cape Verde Portuguese and Hawaiian. He was a fast runner in the days of the monarchy and earned the title of ʻWaialua Horse.’ Later in life he became a hula master and prepared lūʻau for toursists. An industrious man, he worked up to his last illness and death.” 

[Photo: Aerial view of Waialua, Oahu, Hawaii. Ca. 1970. SP_115920.]

(Translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Kō maʻi kēia, lawea mai.

This is your maʻi chant, bring it here.

Hoʻoheno i ka puni, hiu ā wela!

It woos its favorite one, win it over!

Hiu aʻe kō maʻi, lawea mai,

Your maʻi gets started, bring it here,

ʻAʻole mea koe, hiu ā wela!

And leave nothing aside, win it over!

Ua nani Kilohana, lawea mai,

Beautiful is Kilohana, bring it here,

Kuahiwi kapu ia lā ʻo Kaʻala.

Kuahiwi kapu ia lā ʻo Kaʻala.

He ʻala e ke oho aʻo ka palai,

Fragrant are the leaves of the palai fern,

Ka maile lauliʻi aʻo Koʻiahi.

And the fine-leaved maile of Koʻiahi.

Haʻina kō maʻi, lawea mai,

This ends your maʻi chant, bring it here,

Hoʻoheno i ka puni hiu ā wela.

It woos its favorite, win it over.

La-a-e-a-a-a-a-e-a-a-e-a.

La-a-e-a-a-a-a-e-a-a-e-a.

[MS SC Roberts 5.3, Pg. 32b-33]

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