“A chant commonly used in old hula schools. The scene of this chant is laid on Molokai where Kaulana-ula and other gods were believed to have dwelt. The ohia tree, symbolizing Ku-ohia-laka, was always found in the kuahu or hula altar. Chants of praise were acceptable as gifts as any material gift would be.”
(Mele translations and excerpt by Mary Kawena Pukui)
Noho ana Laka i ka ulu wehiwehi
Laka dwells in a beautiful grove,
Kū ana i luna o Moʻohelāia
Growing at the top of Moʻohelāia,
ʻO ka ʻōhiʻa kū i Maunaloa
As an ʻōhiʻa tree on Maunaloa.
Aloha mai Kaulana-ula
Have compassion on me, O Kaulana-ula.
Eia mai ka ʻula lā he ʻūlāleo
Here is a gift, a gift of the voice,
He mōhai i leo naʻu iā ʻoe lā e Laka
A gift of praise from me to you, O Laka,
E hoʻi mai eia ka hana lā
Come back, here is work for us to do,
A e hula ē
It is hula dancing.
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