[Photo: Lahilahi Webb; Honolulu, Hawai‘i; SP 216335.]
Lahilahi ē, Lahilahi ē
Happy Mele Monday!
Elizabeth Kealiioiwikinolahilahi Napuaikaumakani Webb was born in Honolulu on April 12, 1862, the daughter of Charles Vincent and Halauai Kekahupuu Rogers. She attended Fort Street School and St. Andrew’s Priory. In 1891, Lahilahi married Harry Hogson Webb of Bangor, Maine. They made their home in Honolulu.
Lahilahi served as lady-in-waiting, friend, and companion to Queen Liliʻuokalani. She was active in the ‘Ahahui Kaʻahumanu, Hawaiian Historical Society, Daughters of Hawaiʻi, Kapiʻolani Maternity Home, the Hawaiian Board of Missions, Outdoor Circle, and St. Andrew’s Priory Alumnae. Her knowledge of Hawaiian culture and particularly the monarchy made her a very valuable informant for Bishop Museum staff and visitors. Mrs. Webb served as the Bishop Museum’s guide to exhibits from 1919-1942 and consultant on Hawaiian history from 1943 until her death on January 2, 1949.
Lahilahi ē, Lahilahi ē,
Lahilahi, O Lahilahi,
Ua ʻono Lahilahi i ka wai.
Lahilahi thirsts for water.
E kiʻi ka wai i Nuʻuanu
Fetch the water from Nuʻuanu,
I ka wai o Waipuhia.
The water of Waipuhia.
E ke kāwelu ʻo Lanihuli
At Lanihuli where the kāwelu grows
Huli mai kō alo, e ke hoa.
Turn your face to me, O companion.
Kāua i ka pela nolu o Huleilua
You and I shall rest on the soft cushion of Huleilua
Eō Lahilahi ka wahine nona ia inoa
O answer, Lahilahi, the woman whose chant this is.
[Call number: MS SC Roberts 2.8, pg. 65]
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.