[Photo: Pāʻū riders; Hawaiʻi.; ca. 1880; Photographed by H.L. Chase; SP 209717.]
[Photo: Pāʻū rider; Hawaiʻi; ca. 1900; SP 77131.]
[Photo: Pāʻū riders on the island of Kauaʻi; Nāwiliwili, Kauaʻi; ca. 1890; SP 38127.]
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Aia i Makaoa ka Lua o ke Ala

“Do not move in my direction, for you are a horse with an owner.” Uncover the kaona, or hidden meaning, of this phrase and see how the composer skillfully integrates metaphor and imagery throughout this mele.

(Mele translation and excerpt by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Aia i Makaoa ka lua o ke ala   The second trail leads to Makaoa

He ʻala ka palai luhe i ka wao kele   Where the droopy fern is sweetest in the damp forest

He kela ka ʻōpua haʻaheo i ka laʻi   High above a cloud proudly poised

Ua laʻi iho hoʻi hiki ʻē ka makani   We are just enjoying the peace when the wind a begins to blow

Kau mai e ka weli i ka luna i Puʻuneʻe   And fear takes possession of the upland of Puʻuneʻe

Mai neʻeneʻe mai a he lilo kahu ʻoe   Do not move in my direction for you are a house with an owner

Pono ʻole ke kope i ka puke aupuni   And we can not have our names in a government book

Ua puni hoʻi au i ka mali leo mai   I have believed in the soft words

Ka wahine kui pua hau o Maluaka   Of the woman who strings the hau blossom of Maluaka

Akaaka nā pua lana i ka ʻili wai   And it is clear now that these flowers are but reflections in the water.

* Underlying meaning – [A couple] enjoyed themselves and the scenes about them until he began making love. She reminded him that he was married (“a horse with a master”) and could not marry her (“have names in a government book”). She believed the soft words of a friend [spoken] in his favor and finds them just illusions, “reflections on water.”

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 2.9 , Pg. 13-14]

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.

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