[Photo: View up Nuʻuanu Valley toward the Pali. Pauoa Valley is on the right, and Rooke Valley is on the left behind the Country Club. Puʻu Konahuanui (3105 ft.) is visible on the upper right, and Puʻu Lanihuli (2775 ft.) is at left center; ca. 1929, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Photo by the 11th Photo Section, Air Service, USA; Bishop Museum Archives. SP 53669.]

Aloha au ʻo kahi wai o Peleʻula

Happy Mele Monday!

Contributed to the collection by William Kualu of Makaweli, Kauaʻi, today’s mele illustrates a rivalry between two men competing for the affection of one woman. She is likened to the Kiʻowao rain that flees to Nuʻuanu, for she favors neither of them. Despite her lack of interest, the men continue to pursue her and blame one another for their setbacks.

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Aloha au ʻo kahi wai o Peleʻula
How I love the water of Peleʻula

ʻElua māua i ka pua o ka ʻōhai,
There are two of us who desire the ʻōhai blossom,

ʻĀhaʻi ka ua Kiʻowao noho i Nuʻuanu.
But the Kiʻowao rain flees to remain in Nuʻuanu.

Niniu ke oho o ke kāwelu o ka ʻōpua.
Where the leaves of the kāwelu grass sway beneath the rain clouds.

Makemake wale aku nō e ʻike i ka nani o Puna
The desire to see the beauty of Puna

I ka hapalua ʻauneki a ka manaʻo.
Takes half an ounce of my thoughts.

Hoʻokohukohu ke ao noho i nā kuahiwi
The rain presumptuously goes to dwell in the mountain

Kīpū aʻela i ka hono o nā moku.
And to soak the highest point of the island.

He moku ʻāhaʻi leka au no Kaleponi,
I am a ship that bears mail from California,

He ʻAkimalala nui hoʻi no ka moana.
An admiral of note [sic] on the sea.

He pailaka ʻoe, he kia nō no mua,
You are a pilot, one who steers the prow,

He wili huila au, he kūhoe no hope,
I turn the wheel that turns the stern about,

Makemake nō au e noho ‘ona no ia moku,
I want to become owner of that ship,

I hoʻoilina hoʻi no ia waiwai,
To inherit that possession,

Ālai ʻia mau au e ka ʻōhiʻa kūmakua,
But the ʻōhiʻa log gets into my way,

E ke kanaka kia manu i ka uka o Laʻa.
The man that catches birds in the upland of Laʻa.

He wahi aloha no kuʻu ipo hīnalo i ka ʻehu kai o Puna.
This is my chant for my sweetheart, the hala blossom in the sea spray of Puna.

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 3.1b, pg. 257b-258b]

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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