Contributor Mrs. Kaimu Kihe, Puʻuanahulu, North Kona, Hawaiʻi. He mele hoʻāeae. [Love chant]
There was a certain man living in Puna who had a wife and then afterwards his friend took away his wife. Thereupon the husband went to Honolulu and lived in Mānoa alone. There was living at that time in Mānoa a great chanter by the name of Kū. It was his custom to chant when he had ‘awa, fish, and poi, and every time he chanted, this boy would cry. One day Kū asked him the trouble, so he related the story of how he lost his wife. Kū took all this down and composed this mele hula ho’āeae and told him to go back to Puna and that if he would chant it, his wife would surely come back to him. It so happened that he returned to Puna and chanted the mele, and the result was that his wife returned to him and they lived happily ever after.
(Excerpt and mele translations by Mary Kawena Pukui)
Noho nō i Puna ka nani me ka maikaʻi,
In Puna dwells beauty and goodness,
He hale kipa ia no ke ʻala me ke onaona,
A house in which fragrance and sweetness dwells,
Onaona ka maile me ka hala o Keaʻau.
Fragrant are the maile and hala of Keaʻau,
Aloha ʻino ke kupa Kaniahiku,
Woe betide the native son of Kaniahiku,
Kū mai ka ua nahunahu kiʻekiʻe i luna,
When the stormy rains gather high overhead,
Hoʻokakano lua I ka laʻi o Wahinekapu,
Threatening the peace of Wahinekapu,
Puapuaʻi maila nā leo ʻawahia a ka manu,
Gradually louder grew the harsh voices of the birds,
Nā kauna ʻōlelo o ka Puʻulena i ka uka,
And the many unkind words of the Puʻulena breeze of the upland,
Ka ʻī mai nō ua lilo o Maʻolala iā Panaʻewa,
Telling me that Maʻolala was taken away by Panaʻewa,
He aha nō lā ka hewa ke ʻai ʻia kaʻu hakina,
What matters if my leftover food is being eaten,
He koena ia na ka manu i ʻai a haʻalele,
It is just a remnant eaten by the bird and left,
Ke pane maila e hōʻāʻā ke kono Waianuhea,
The answer left the Waianuhea wind in consternation,
Peulaka ū ka hau anu a Kawaiapo.
Penetrated to the core with the cold dew of Kawaiapo.
ʻO kaʻu hana ʻike ʻia, ʻo kōnane,
I am skilled in the game of kōnane,
Helu ʻekahi au ma ka pūpalu.
And also excel in the art of fooling my opponent.
I lono ʻoe ʻo ʻoe nō ka ʻole he māʻukaʻuka,
Now listen you, you are but a worthless person,
He kela ʻoe no mua he huki kaula kau hana,
A sailor near the prow who merely pulls on ropes,
He pūlumi ʻoe no ka ʻoneki o ka papahele.
One who sweeps the deck.
ʻO wau mai nō ka ona, ka haku o koʻu waiwai,
I am the owner, the lord of my possessions,
He wahi aloha no puīa i ke onaona,
With love for the gently wafted fragrance,
Ke ʻala paia o Puna.
The fragrance of the groves of Puna.
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