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[Two plantation luna on horseback in sugarcane field; ca. 1888. Waimānalo(?), Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. Photo by J. A. Gonsalves. SP_73201]

ʻAkahi hoʻi au a ʻike

Happy Mele Monday!

Contributed to the collection by Wahineikeaouli Pa, today’s featured mele illustrates the imagery of two horses racing each other to attain a goal. In taking a closer look at the lyrics, what do you think is the kaona (hidden meaning) of this mele?

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

ʻAkahi hoʻi au a ʻike
This is the first time I’ve seen

Nā lio kākele i ke kula.
The horses race over the plain.

ʻElua kahu nāna i ʻaʻe
Two riders rode them

Holo aku i ka pahu heihei.
As they raced together to the goal.

Eo i ka ʻāhina puakea,
The white horse won the race,

Ua hū Anemanu i ke kula.
While *Anemanu went off on the plain.

ʻAʻohe kahu e laka ai
*There is no master to tame it

Ua lilo i ka manu ʻaukai.
For it is gone to the *sea-faring bird.

Aia i ka lae o Kekala
It is there at the Point of Kekala

E kala kahiko i au wale.
Where it has gone long since.

I niau iho nei ma ʻaneʻi
It has passed by over here

Me kahi kīhei huluhulu.
With a blanket on it.

Haʻina ka puana o kuʻu nane,
This ends my chant, my riddle,

Hoʻokele i ka ihu o ka moku.
*About steering the prow of the ship.

*Anemanu-The name of a horse.
*There is no master to tame it-No native fit to woo her.
*The sea-faring bird– Sailor
*About steering the prow of the ship– Directing a man.

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 5.4, pg. 129b-130a]

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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