[Photo: Kamehameha I statue draped with lei for Kamehameha Day; Honolulu, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. Ca. 1954-56. Photo by Laurence Hata.  SP_126014.]

He Pule Kui Lei

Bishop Museum had the wonderful priviledge of helping to contribute an 18 foot long lei for the annual lei draping ceremony honoring King Kamehameha. Today we feature a mele kui lei, a lei making prayer.

(Translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

ʻO Hiʻiaka ka wahine ke ʻako lā i ka pua … Hiʻiaka, the woman, is picking flowers,

Ke kui lā ke ʻuo lā i ka mānai o Hoakalei … She pierces them, strings them on the needle Hoakalei

Ka ʻāpana lei lehua laʻi a ka wahine lā ē … The lehua lei, the woman puts together a little at a time.

Kuʻu wahine, kuʻu wahine mai ka ʻehu makani o lalo … She is my woman, my woman from the land of breezes below,

Lulumi akula i kai o Hilo one e … The winds that bluster down on the sandy shores of Hilo,

No Hilo one ke aloha, … To the sandy shore of Hilo we greet,

Aloha wale ka lei ē … How we love the lei!

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 3.7, Pg. 7b]

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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