Singer- Mrs. Lahilahi Webb. Honolulu, Oahu. Mele inoa of Mrs. Webb’s grandmother, and Mrs. Webb’s mele, since she is a namesake of the grandmother. Mrs. Webb never heard all of it. This is only a fragment.

[Photo:  Lahilahi Webb, Bishop Museum guide; Honolulu, Hawaii. SP_ 19791.]

(Translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Lahilahi ē Lahilahi ē,

Lahilahi, O Lahilahi,

Ua ʻono Lahilahi i ka wai

Lahilahi thirst for water.

E kiʻi ka wai i Nuʻuanu

Fetch the water from Nuʻuanu,

I ka wai o Waipuhia

The water of Waipuhia.

ʻO Waiawa ʻai ʻōpae,

At Waiawa eat shrimps,

Kāua i ka pela nolu o Huleilua

You and I shall rest on the soft cushion of Huleilua

Eō Lahilahi ka wahine nona ia inoa

O answer, Lahilahi, the woman whose chant this is.

[MS SC Roberts 2.8, Pg. 68]

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