“These are some string figures I know. I haven’t seen them done, except for this, Nā Moku ʻEono o Hawaiʻi Nei or The six districts of Hawaiʻi.
I learned to chant this string figure as it is being done, and I know the tune. This is the chant for this string figure.” Contributor Z.P. Kalokuokamaile, Nāpoʻopoʻo, South Kona, Hawaiʻi.
( Mele translation provided by Mary Kawena Pukui)
Ka lā, Ka lā i ke kula o Ahuʻena,
The sun, the sun shines on the plain of Ahuʻena,
Komo i ka laʻi o Kailua ē, o Kona.
It comes to peaceful Kailua-that is Kona.
ʻO kona ia o ke kai malino a Ehu,
It is Kona, home of the calm sea of Ehu,
E hele ana i waho o ka Pulau.
Extending all the way out to Pulau.
Kani ka hoe i Waiʻulaʻula
The traveler whistles at Waiʻulaʻula.
Hōʻea i Kaʻū.
Kaʻū is reached.
O Kaʻū ia, O Kaʻū nui kua makani,
This is Kaʻū, great Kaʻū of the windblown back,
Kū ka ʻeʻa o ka lepo.
Which swirls the dust upward.
Lele koaʻe o ka pali kaulana o Kaumaea.
The game of dust leaping is at the famous hill of Kaumaea.
Hōʻea i Puna.
Puna is reached.
ʻO Puna ia lā, ʻo Puna i ke kai kōloa,
This is Puna, Puna of the moaning sea,
Ke nū hele ala i ka ulu hala,
Which groans to the hala grove
I ke kai o Puna o Keaʻau.
At Keaʻau in Puna.
Hōʻea i Hilo.
Hilo is reached.
ʻO Hilo ia lā o ka ua kinakinai
This is Hilo of the endless rain,
He ua lū lehua ia no Panaʻewa,
A rain that pelts the lehua of Panaʻewa,
I kinai i ka ua o ke kila,
A beating, relentless rain,
He ua mao ʻole kaulana o Hilo,
The famous endless rain of Hilo.
Hōʻea i Hāmākua.
Hāmākua is reached.
ʻO Hāmākua ia o kalawa i ka pali,
This is Hāmākua of the sheer cliffs,
He ʻūlili ke ala e hiki ai.
Steep is the trail to go.
Hoʻokuʻukuʻu ka lima i ke kaula,
One goes clinging to a rope,
ʻAʻaki ka niho i ka ipu,
Holding the container by his teeth,
I ka pali o Koholālele,
At the cliff of Koholālele,
ʻO Waipiʻo ma lāua i Waimanu.
Of Waipiʻo and Waimanu.
Noho i Kohala,
Kohala is reached,
ʻO Kohala nui, ʻo Kohala iki,
Great Kohala, lesser Kohala,
ʻO Kohala ka ʻāina ua haʻaheo,
Kohala, a land that is proud of its rain,
I ka ua ʻĀpaʻapaʻa.
The ʻĀpaʻapaʻa rain.
ʻO Pili me Kalāhikiola,
There lie Pili and Kalāhikiola,
ʻO nā puʻu haele lua,
There the two-sided hills,
ʻO nā puʻu noho i uka.
The hills that remain inland.
ʻO ke kanaka nō ke hele ana,
Only man travels about,
Ke neʻe nei ʻo Kaneopa i kahakai,
Kaneopa moves along the beach,
I ka huʻahuʻa, i ke alaʻala,
Among the sea-foam, the large air bubbles,
That burst with sound.
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