[Photo: Aerial view of Waialua; ca. 1925. Waialua, Oʻahu. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 115919]

Nani Kaʻala, he keiki na Kamaoha

Happy Mele Monday!

Contributed to the collection by Louis Nakeu of Honolulu, today’s featured mele is a love chant that highlights significant places situated on the northwestern side of Oʻahu. Beginning at the top of Kaʻala, the composer weaves together poetic references to moʻolelo, geographical features, and notable landmarks seen within the district of Waialua.

(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)

Nani Kaʻala, he keiki na Kamaoha,
Beautiful Kaʻala, child of Kamaoha,

Ke hiʻi ʻia maila e ka wai o Luakini;
Borne in the arms of the water of Luakini;

Hiʻi ka wai o Kaʻaiea kau i luna,
Lifted and placed high is the water of Kaʻaiea,

Hiʻi ka wai kumu ʻole kau i nā pali,
Lifted high is the water without source, up onto the cliff.

Ke nānā iho ʻoe lalo o Kawaihāpai,
When you look down upon Kawaihāpai,

Me he moena pāwehe ala
It resembles a patterned mat

I ke kula o Mokulēʻia.
On the plain of Mokulēʻia.

ʻAʻohe wahi hoʻohalahala ʻana,
There is nothing to criticize there,

A ka ua nāulu i ke kula,
Nothing for the rain cloud to be displeased with on the plain,

He like wale nō mai Kaʻena ā Waialua,
It is alike in appearance from Kaʻena to Waialua,

Pili pono akula ka lā.
Where the sun remains shining.

I Mananui ke ʻā hoʻonui aʻela,
At Mananui the charm increases,

I ka leo o ke kai o Puaʻena,
With the voice of the sea at Puaʻena,

Ke hohola aʻela i ke kula o Lauhulu.
That spreads onto the plain of Lauhulu.

Me he lei hulu mamo ala
Like a lei made of mamo feathers

No ka uka o Halemano,
For the upland of Halemano,

ʻO ke kū mai nō ʻo Kaʻala.
So stands Kaʻala.

A Kaʻala kuʻu aloha,
For Kaʻala is my love,

Hoʻi mai kāua.
O come back to me.

[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 2.8, pg. 22b-25a]

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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