[Photo: Hawaiian children eating sugar cane; Hawaiʻi. ca. 1890-1905. SLS_2071.]

He kao nui nō

Happy Mele Monday!

We would like to express our sincere appreciation for those who have participated in our Welo Hou: Building Connections to the Roberts Mele Collection survey. Your feedback is invaluable and we are diligently working to incorporate your suggestions into future mele projects. Mahalo nui!

In response to a special request submitted through our mele survey, today’s featured mele is a children’s song taught to Mary Pukui by her grandmother. Reminiscent of a nursery rhyme, Pukui indicates that this is not a real song or chant, but a school recitation which was later put to modern tunes.

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

He kao nui nō,
It is a big goat,

E holo ana ke kao.
The goat is running,

E holo ana nō ke kao.
The goat is still running.

A ua holo loa ke kao.
The goat has run away.

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 2.2, pg. 88]

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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