[Kiaaina; Hawaiʻi; Photo by Theodore Kelsey; SP 39805]
Ke Kumuhana o ke Ola o ke Kanaka
Happy Mele Monday!
“For the Hawaiian of the past, all times and every time were indeed occasions for prayer. ʻLong before the missionaries came, Hawaiians were haipule, religious.’ Says Mary Kawena Pukui. ‘Everything they did, they did with prayer.’” -Nānā I Ke Kumu: Look to the source Volume II, The Queen Liliʻuokalani Children’s Center, 1972.
Contributed to the Roberts Collection by Theodore Kelsey (as obtained from Kiaaina), today’s featured composition is a prayer that petitions for health and wellness.
(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)
Ke pō o Kāne, Lono, Mauli, Muku
O [gods of] the nights of Kāne, Lono, Mauli, and Muku,
Kū loa, hā i luna; Kū lalo, piha ka honua
O Kū the tall, breathe upward; O Kū below, fill the earth
ʻAi ʻai, ʻai nānā
Eat [the proffered] food, eat and look about,
Kū i mua, i hope, huli pono, huli hewa
Stand in front and behind; seek right from wrong.
E Kū ē, nānā ‘ia mai ka pono o ka pulapula
O Kū, look well to the needs of your offspring,
Hā‘awi i ke aloha nui
Grant love in abundance
Ho‘okomo ‘ia ka pono, ka ‘i‘ini, ka makemake o ka pulapula
Grant righteousness, desire and those things which the offspring wishes for,
A mau, a mau i ke ao pau ‘ole ma ka honua nei
Forever and ever through the endless life here on earth.
‘Āmama, ua noa, lele wale
‘Āmama, my prayer is freed, it has flown.
[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 4.2, Pg. 12]
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.