[Photo: S.S. Australia leaving the dock in Honolulu Harbor; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Photo by Christian J. Hedemann. SP 207229.]

[Photo: S.S. Australia; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Photo by Christian J. Hedemann. SP 207230.]

He aloha moku o Keawe

Happy Mele Monday!

Sailing aboard the S.S. Australia, Emalia Kaihumua set out for California to perform hula overseas. While living thousands of miles away from home, she began to experience unrelenting homesickness intensified by the cold weather of San Francisco. In 1894, Emalia composed this mele expressing feelings of displacement and a deep longing for the familiarity of Hawaiʻi. Anyone who has had such an experience while living far away from home may be able to relate to the sentiments expressed in today’s featured mele.

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

He aloha moku o Keawe,
Beloved is the land of Keawe,

ʻĀina a ka nani me ka maluhia.
Land of beauty and peace.

Hoʻokūkū wau me Kaleponi
I make a comparison with California

Hawaiʻi ka ʻoi o nā ʻailana.
And find Hawaiʻi the better land.

Na ka ʻAukekulia i kono mai iaʻu
It was the Australia which invited me

E naue i ka ʻāina malihini.
To visit (this) foreign land.

ʻĀina kamahaʻo i kaʻu ʻike
This is a wonderful land in my opinion,

Ua uhi paʻa pū ʻia e ka noe.
Ever enveloped by fogs.

ʻIke i ka hau hoʻokuakea ʻili,
I know the snow that bleaches the skin

Hoʻopumehana i kahi kapuahi.
That makes one warm oneself at a fireplace.

Ka ʻiniki a ke anu me he ipo ala
The cold pinches like a lover

E koi mai ana iaʻu e hoʻi.
And urges me to go home.

I laila huli hope koʻu manaʻo
Then my mind goes wandering back

A he kaukani mile koʻu manaʻo.
Though I am thousands of mile away.

Hū mai ke aloha no ka ʻāina
Love wells up for my homeland

No ka poi ʻuoʻuo kāohi puʻu.
And the smooth poi that sooths the throat.

Haʻina ʻia mai ana ka puana,
This ends my song,

Ke aloha ʻāina kuʻu lei ia.
The love of homeland is my lei.

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 5.4, pg. 136b-137a]

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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