Welo Hou

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.

ʻO Kamakaʻeha, ʻo Liliʻu, ʻo Loloku

“Kamakaʻeha (the sore eyes), Liliʻu (the smarting), and Loloku (the pouring tears) were names given to Queen Liliʻuokalani. Kīnaʻu, daughter of Kamehameha I, was once troubled with sore eyes, and her physician kept her in a dark room until she became well again.

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Kuʻu Makua i ka Hale Uluna Kanaka

Today we feature a composition written by Queen Kaʻahumanu. In this mele kanikau, Queen Kaʻahumanu expresses feelings of deep grief as she mourns the passing of her mother, Namahana.

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Hanohano Kapulani i ka ulu hala

Today’s featured mele, composed for E.D Henriques by Lucy Peabody, expresses the deep love a parent feels for their child. Miss Peabody is best known for serving as a lady-in-waiting for Queen Emma and for her role in resurrecting the ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu in 1906.

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A Waho Wau o Kalaeloa

Today’s mele was contributed to the collection by Peter Pakele of Hilo, Hawaiʻi. The composer of this piece mentions significant places, such as Puʻuloa, to illustrate the story behind this mele.

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Kū nō ka lino i Pi‘ikea

[Photo: View of Kawaiahaʻo Church (with steeple) from Punchbowl Street; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Ca. 1880. SP 96550] (Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

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Haleakalā Ke Kuahiwi Nani o Maui

Today’s mele was contributed to the collection by Theodore Kelsey of Hilo. Beginning at the top of Haleakalā, the composer takes us on a journey reaching as far north as Kauaʻi then travels back toward the southernmost island of Hawaiʻi.

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