[Photo: Mokulau, Maui and interisland steamer, Kīlauea; Hawaiʻi, May 1922. SP 50114.]

Kīlauea ke aloha

Happy Mele Monday!

“On June 28, 1860, the Kilauea, a screw steamer of 414 tons built for the [Hawaiian Steam Navigation Company] in East Boston, arrived at Honolulu and soon afterward began her long and varied career in the interisland service. With the advent of this vessel, steam navigation became a permanent but not uninterrupted feature of community life in the Hawaiian kingdom. The Kilauea, which remained in service for seventeen years (with some gaps), represented the farthest advance in local transportation that was possible under the pre-reciprocity economy.” – The Hawaiian Kingdom: Vol. 2: Twenty Critical Years, 1854-1874. University of Hawaiʻi Press, 1953.

Yesterday marked the 160th anniversary since the Kīlauea first arrived in Hawaiʻi. Today’s featured mele was composed in honor of this extraordinary vessel.

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Singer- Mrs. Monika Keawe. Waiʻōhinu, Kaʻū, Hawaiʻi.

Kīlauea ke aloha,
Love to the Kīlauea,

Ka mokuahi o ke kaona.
Steamship of the town.

Nāna i kaiue ka moana,
She plied the ocean dup,

ʻAle ka ‘ehu o Pailolo
Over the rough billows of Pailolo channel

Mea ʻole ka loa o Hawaiʻi
The distance to Hawaii is as nothing

Ke kuʻe nome a ka huila.
When her wheels start revolving.

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 2.3, pg. 19-20]

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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