Today’s featured composition is a mele kuʻi lua, or a chant for lua fighting.

[Photo: Pīkoi; Tripping cord used as a weapon in battle. SP 30143.]
(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Kō ke au i Hala‘ea,

The current of Hala‘ea draws out,

Pūnāwai Mānā,

Pūnāwai Mānā,

Wai nānā a ke kupa ē,

Is guarded by the native,

Ka ‘īlio nāna lā,

The dog bristling with wrath,

Hae nanahu i ke kai ē,

Barks and snaps at the sea,

Ka pua o ke iliau,

The iliau blossom,

Ka ‘ōhai mahapepe,

And the ‘ōhai mahapepe,

Aia i Mauoa a kanaka loloa ē,

Are in Mauoa where the tall men are,

Hea Kawelohea lā,

Kawelohea calls,

No wai lā ke kapu ē?

“Whose kapu is this

Pua ‘ehu i ke kai

that makes the sea rough?”

No Kalani mālokuloku,

It belongs to the chief most high,

Aloha mai nei Hilo,

Hilo sends its regards,

Kahi o mākou,

To some of us.

[MS SC Roberts 4.2 , Pg. 130a]

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