[Photo: Seated hula dancers with ipu hula at ʻIolani Palace grounds for King Kalākaua’s birthday; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The Royal bandstand can be seen in the background.; ca. November 1885; SP 209717.]

Kāua i ka Nani o Hilo

Happy Mele Monday!

In honor of King Kalākaua’s birthday celebrated on November 16, we feature a mele hula that was composed for him in the early 1880’s.

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Kāua i ka nani o Hilo   You and I, amidst Hilo’s charms

I ka ua loloku o Hanakahi   In the pouring rain of Hanakahi

ʻAkahi nō koʻu manene   It is the first time I’ve been so thrilled

I ka meʻeu hoʻi o koʻu oho   Till I feel the “creeps” through my scalp

He ʻūlāleo paha na ka ʻIʻiwi   Perhaps caused by the distant voice of an ‘Iʻiwi bird

Pūʻā maila i Haili   That bursts into song at Haili

Ilihia i ka leo o ka mamo I am delightful by the voices of the mamo

Ke ʻikuā maila i ʻŌlaʻa   That sing in chorus in ʻŌlaʻa

Ua laʻa ia pua i ʻaneʻi   The flowers is toasted over here

Eia ma koʻu kīʻaha   Here it is in my glass

Ua hoʻolawa ʻia e Liʻa   Gathered together by Liʻa

E nā lehua i Panaʻewa   Are the lehua of Panaʻewa

E kuhi ana nō paha ʻoe   Perhaps you think

Hoʻokahi hālau i aʻo ai   That art is taught in a single school

I like ai nā mea hana   So that the working can be seen

ʻO ka puke hoʻonui ʻike   In a book that increases knowledge

He makau hala ʻole kēia   This is hook that doesn’t fail

Ua lou ʻia e ka iʻa nui   It catches big fish

Ua ale ʻia kaʻu maunu   My bait is swallowed

E moano nui i ka lehua   By the big red moano

Ua paʻa i ka lina pāwalu   It is caught on an eight ply line

I mali ʻia ke aho makaliʻi   Its bait tied with a fine cord

E ō e Kalani kū kahi   Answer, O one and only ruler

ʻO ka hiku kapu o nā lani   The seventh of the kings

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 2.5, Pg. 12b-16a]

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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