Nani Wale nō ʻo Pele i ka Lua

“David Alapaʻi was born 72 years ago at Kaloko, North Kona, Hawaiʻi, and has always lived in North Kona. He claims to belong to the family of Pele, the goddess. The following mele was composed by him during the flow of 1919, when he and a woman of the neighborhood went to see the flow and stood in a cave under the flowing lava. While he chanted his prayer to Pele, asking her to cease flowing and to spare the people. He had his prayer in a book which he said was snatched out of his hand as if it had been struck. It fell on the lava and he rescued it, but his hand was burned. He protested to Pele that she should not treat one her own family in that fashion. During the flow he entreated her. It was a midst of the lava, and that people of the region thought they had been destroyed and were amazed after the flow that they emerged unharmed. Their exploit was published in the papers at the time.”

Informants who have contributed mele/oli to the Roberts Collection.

(Excerpt from the Roberts Mele Collection. Mele translations by Mary Kawena Pukui.)

1960 Kapoho Eruption
SP 115335

I

Nani wale nō ʻo Pele i ka lua,

 I

Beautiful art thou o Pele of the Pit,

Ke ʻūhī ʻūhā mai nei Pele,

You make such swishing sounds,

Ua hōʻike aʻe ʻoe i kou nani,

You put your beauty on display,

I ka wena ʻula i ka maka o ka ʻōpua.

Glowing red before the face of the clouds.

Aia kā ʻoe i ʻĀlika,

So you are gone to ʻĀlika,

I ka ʻāina uluwehi i ka lehua.

The land bedecked with lehua blossoms.

A e hana ʻoe me ka maikaʻi,

Be kindly in your behavior,

Me ke aloha a i ou hulu makaʻāinana.

Be merciful to your beloved people.

Hoʻokahi nō lā o ke kaha ʻana

Only one day the lava flows,

ʻAu ana i ke kai malino o Kona.

And the calm sea of Kona is reached.

Ua lawa ke aloha nou e Pele,

This is enough, with love to you, Pele.

Nou a e Pele ua ʻike i kou nani pāhaʻohaʻo.

As for me, Pele, Iʻve seen your wonderous beauty.

 II

He aloha nō ʻo Pele me Hiʻiaka,

 II

Love to Pele and Hiʻiaka,

Nā kāʻeaʻea noho kuahiwi,

Mysterious mountain dwellers,

A eia mākou ua hiki mai

Here we are, for we have come

A e ʻike i kou nani pāhaʻohaʻo,

To see your wondrous beauty,

I ʻaneʻi mākou pau kuhi hewa

Here we know for certain

Nā hana kamahaʻo āu e Pele.

Of your wonderful deeds, O Pele.

III

Ke hea mai nei Halemaʻumaʻu,

III

Halemaʻumaʻu is now calling,

Kō home i ka piko o ke kuahiwi.

That home of yours on the mountaintop.

Nou nō a o uka me kai,

Yours is the upland, yours the sea,

Nou nō Hawaiʻi nei ā puni.

Yours the whole of Hawaiʻi.

Hoʻokahi nō lā o ke kahe ʻana

Only one day the lava flows,

ʻAu ana i ke kai malino o Kona.

And it reaches the calm sea of Kona.

Ua lawa ke aloha nou e Pele,

This is enough, with love to you, O Pele.

Ua ʻike i kou nani ilihia.

I have seen your thrilling beauty.

[MS_SC_Roberts_2_2_93_95]

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

2018-05-07T10:04:21+00:00

One Comment

  1. nupepa-hawaii.com May 12, 2018 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Hoihoi! Here is news coverage from the time!!
    https://wordpress.com/post/nupepa-hawaii.com/42799

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