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[Grass House and loʻi on Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi. Photograph by Capt. James C. Ayers. SP 79999]

He ‘awa i kanu ʻia e ke akua

Happy Mele Monday!

Contributed to the collection by a resident of Kauaʻi, today’s featured mele is a special request submitted through our Welo Hou: Building Connections to the Roberts Mele Collection survey. An anonymous survey respondent identified P.K. Kuhi, an informant in the Roberts Mele Collection, as their ancestor and asked if we could feature one of his contributions here on our blog. We love learning about your personal connections to this content!

Mahalo to everyone who has responded to our short survey. If you have not yet completed it but would like to participate, it’s not too late! We value your feedback and look forward to hearing from you.  To access, click here.

The survey will close this Thursday, August 20.

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

He ʻawa i kanu ʻia e ke akua,
The ʻawa planted by the gods,

Ua lono Kauaʻi i ka ʻawa.
Kauaʻi has heard of the ʻawa,

E kani ka pū makaiau,
The thunder peals aloud,

Kukulu ka ua mai ka lani mai,
The rain drops from the sky,

Kulu ē, he ānuenue, he uila,
A rainbow appears, the lightning too,

Kapeau kona kuhi ā,
It streaks downwards,

A kuhi aku, kuhi mai,
Streaking there, streaking here,

Kuhi i ka lapalapa.
Streaking with the flashes.

Ua inu ke akua,
The goddess has drunk,

I ka ʻawa lā,
Has drunk the ʻawa,

Make ʻona i ka ʻawa lā,
She is drunk with ʻawa,

Kūlou ʻona i ka ʻawa lā,
She droops with the effects of ʻawa,

Hiamoe ʻona i ka ʻawa lā,
Sleeps under the influence of ʻawa,

Ala mai, ʻona i ka ʻawa lā.
Awakens, still drunk with ʻawa.

E ke akua ē,
O goddess,

ʻEliʻeli kau mai!
Awe possesses us!

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 2.6, pg. 21-22a]

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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