[Photo: Visitors at Kīlauea Point Lighthouse; Kīlauea, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi. Photo by Laurence Hata, Bishop Museum Archives. SP 216360]
Nani wale ka huila o Kīlauea
Happy Mele Monday!
Completed in 1913 and situated at the northernmost point of Kauaʻi, the Kīlauea Lighthouse was the first landfall seen by vessels sailing in from the west. Beaming at 217 feet above sea level, its unique double flashing lights could be seen from 22 nautical miles away. The total cost of the structure was nearly $78,000 with most of its material having been shipped in from France.
Today’s featured mele was composed by Wahinekeouli Pa expressing her deep appreciation for the beautiful aesthetics and skillful construction of the Kīlauea Lighthouse.
(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)
Nani wale ka huila o Kīlauea,
Beautiful is the revolving light of Kīlauea,
E ʻanapu maila i ka paia lani.
That flashes to the walls of the heavens.
Hōʻike mai ana i kona nani,
It shows forth its beauty,
He mālamalama ʻoi kelakela.
An exceedingly bright light.
Helu ʻekahi o Hawaiʻi nei
It is the best one in Hawaiʻi
Ma ka lihi kai o ka Pākīpika.
That brightens the Pacific Ocean.
Ua ana pono ʻia kou ʻenekini
Its engine has been properly gauged
No kanahā mile kou mamao.
To reach a distance of forty miles.
Kaomi lima ʻia aʻe ke pihi,
When a button is pressed by hand,
E niniu ʻia no ʻumi kekona,
Each revolution takes ten seconds,
Hihiu nā hana a ka Puakea.
Wonderful are the deeds of the white man.
He ʻoi pākela a ke akamai,
Whose skill is unsurpassed,
I hana noʻeau ʻia e Palani,
The artistic work was done in France,
He kinohinohi ke ʻike aku
The ornaments that one sees
Ka ʻanapa a ka ʻōnohi kaimana,
That sparkle like a diamond,
Me nā wai hoʻoluʻu like ʻole
Are fashioned with every color
Ua hana ʻia a kū i ka nani.
That made them beautiful indeed.
Mōlina wai kula ʻanapanapa,
There are bright gold bands,
Pāpaʻa keleawe ke kohu ia,
With pieces of brass that match in hue,
Ka hulali a ka wai hoʻohinuhinu
The polishes make them sparkle
Ua kohu lihilihi ānuenue,
Like bands in a rainbow,
Ka pipiʻo ma waho o ke aniani.
That arches outside of the window.
Haʻina ʻia mai ana ka puana
I have now come to the end
Hoʻoheno ka huila o Kīlauea.
Of my love song for the revolving light of Kīlauea.
[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 2.2, pg. 107-111]
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.