“Nā Kuahiwi Kaulana” is a composition of the famed Kohala native and falsetto poet Bill Ali‘iloa Lincoln. The mele celebrates the extent of Lincolnʻs home – from the heights of Mauna Kea, Kaulana” with Bell Records [LKS 245] in 1947.
Written by Hula Master Johnny Lum Ho, this mele takes us on a bus ride around the island of Moloka‘i. It was composed for dear friend, Kumu Hula Moana Dudoit, who shows us the beauty of Moloka‘i from the seats of her bus as it travels up and down the roads of Mana‘e and Hālawa. Hold on to your seats and get ready because da bus coming!
In September 2007, Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong composed this mele as a rallying call to unite. “Be honored always, oh beloved descendants of the land. The new dawn for our people of Hawai‘i is upon us...” The men dance to pay tribute to the kūpuna and the descendants of this land.
Kumu Paredes wrote this composition for ‘Ele‘io, the messenger of Chief Kaka‘alaneo, whose court was at Keka‘a on West Maui. At the request of his chief, who was ‘ono for ‘awa from Waiohue, ‘Ele‘io runs to the Ko‘olau side of the island. He encounters the beautiful, mysterious Kanikani‘ā‘ula, and is unable to complete his task.
This is a mele lovingly composed by Kumu Paredes for his Tūtū wahine, Mary Kaleleiki Lee. Affectionately known to her ‘ohana as Mele, she was born in Maunawili Valley, O‘ahu. She was raised there by her maternal grandfather, Samuel Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi Kaleleiki. Tūtū Mele shared many stories of her childhood growing up in Maunawili.
This mele is about beloved Waikīkī and its whispering sea. The scent of limu līpoa (seaweed) is carried on a gentle breeze. “Your name is famous to visitors, all your beauty known around the world.” The mele was given to Helen Ayat by her mother who was a lady-in-waiting to Kūhiōʻs wife, Princess Kahanu.
Haku mele Robert Uluwehi Cazimero declares his aloha for Kaua‘i in the words “My love forever returns to Kaua‘i afloat in the sea.” Following a visit to Hanalei, Limahuli, Makan and Hā‘ena in the moku of Halele‘a, he returns to O‘ahu and pays loving tribute to wahi pana (legendary places) on Kaua‘i in this mele.
“The sun greets the dawning of the day; The flowers bloom in the morning dew; She is awake.” These lovely images were written and put to music by Lukela Ke‘ala for his “U‘ilani.” Lukela recalls a special memory, a longing and the feeling of deep love that only he and his U‘ilani share. Larry Kimuraʻs composition “Sweet Memory” finishes the mele “U‘ilani.”
Beautiful is the view of Wao Akua in the lofty heights of Pi‘iholo, Maui. The sun casts a brilliant stream of golden rays upon the mountain and it adorns the clouds in hues of goldenrod, peach and orange. Kumu Carlson Kamaka Kukona III composed “Nani Pi‘iholo” and set the lyrics to a haunting melody.
In this mele, composers Kumu Chinky Māhoe and Louis “Moon” Kauakahi boast of men who eat healthy and stay fit. They work out at the gym, surf and admire themselves in the mirror to check out their appeal–handsome and vain! “Checking out the waves, and the ladies. Here I am, look at me.”
This love song relates to a bittersweet affair that romantically links the manu ‘ō‘ō and the lehua blossoms. The Kani Lehua rain of Hilo is symbolic of the chatter and gossip experienced by the two lovers.
Today, fishing is a favorite pastime of many Hawaiians, whether itʻs throwing net, casting, diving, or just kicking back with a bamboo pole. This mele, composed by Kumu Chinky Māhoe and ‘Iokepa De Santos was dedicated to Chinkyʻs grandfather who often fished with nets of Kailua Beach.
This mele lei wehi (song of praise) provides a snapshot of Palace life and a brief moment with Queen Lili‘uokalani on a particular afternoon. Lili‘uokalani was a woman of regal stature and she was best known for her kindness and compassion. Today, our beloved Queen continues to be a source of inspiration and hope for our lāhui Hawai‘i.
This original composition by Kumu Carlson Kamaka Kukona III takes us on a huaka‘i (trip) to the lush northeastern shore of Kaua‘i. The song documents the journey to Limahuli and Kē‘ē with this kumu, Mae Kamāmalu Klein and members of their Papa ‘Ūniki ‘Ōlena in June of 2000. The view seen from upland Limahuli Gardens inspired this composition.
Mokulua is the old name for the two islands that lie about a mile off the Ka‘ōhao shoreline of Kailua, O‘ahu. Today, they are called the Twin Islands and the Mokes. The song “Mokulua” is meant, in part, to put the traditional place-names of Ka‘ōhao back in the ears and mouths of our children before the old ties of aloha ‘āina unravel into ainokea.
In 1958, well-respected kupuna Katherine Maunakea composed this mele for a benefit concert held in honor of singer, musician and songwriter, Lena Machado. Machadoʻs extraordinary muscial talents earned her the title “Hawai‘i Songbird.” Her name is a “famous name whose beauty is not to be forgotten, warm with much love.”
In this newly composed mele pana (song of a legendary place), the wāhine take us on a huaka‘i (trip) that honors O‘ahu, the heart of the Hawaiian Islands. In each paukū (verse), we celebrate the different moku (districts) by showcasing their unique qualities and natural features. Glorious is the choice “gem of the seas; beloved is O‘ahu, O‘ahualua.”
Like the glistening olivine crystals embedded on Diamond Head, the stars form a lei to adorn Waikīkīʻs famous landmark. Composer Mary Pūla‘a Robins writes not only of her lei of stars but also of a lei with a single blossom and a yellow feather lei that is highly esteemed. Her words are affectionately written and hint at a romantic pairing.
Initially intended for a single beloved blossom, through almost four decades, this mele aloha has transformed into the needle and thread that fashion a cherished lei of three generations of wāhine hula in Uncle Glenn Kelena Vasconcellosʻ ‘ohana. This mele aloha evokes Kelenaʻs affection and admiration for those who are precious to him.
“Kukunaokalā” is credited to Rosalie Flores, who was a renowned soloist and member of the Royal Hawaiian Glee Club, and to co-composer Johnny Noble. The sentiments venerate natural elements and celebrate the sunshine, rainbow, clouds and ocean as the distinctive apparel of our island home.
Ka Wahine Pele is honored in this mele composed by Eric Lee and Louis “Moon” Kauakahi. The natrual elements at the Crater and at the summit acknowledge two goddesses, Pele at Kīlauea and Poliahu at Mauna Kea. Though opposite and intense in personal characteristics, both are present today.
Late composer and pianist Momi Jones describes Kui (Kukui) Tree Dam located in the mountains above Lake Wilson in Wahiawā, O‘ahu. Here, kukui trees stand guard and “voices of birds are heard; sending sweet calls in the early morning.” It is at Kukui Tree Dam that the composer was courted by her husband.
“Hawai‘iʻs Songbird,” Lena Machado, was a huge fan of Latin music, its rhythms and instrumentation. She wanted to “celebrate the way that two different cultures could respect and enjoy each other.” In 1937, she wrote the original version of “E Ku‘u Baby Hot Cha-Cha,” a song with a Latin feel but utilizing her typicallly Hawaiian poetic technique.
Pua kenikeni is a fragrant flower that is celebrated by the people of Kāne‘ohe. When the flower ages it changes from white to a deep golden color. “My lei of puakenikeni” you are “the one (that) I desire constantly.” Penned by Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, this mele is about a cherished pua kenikeni lei that is held in the heart.
“He Aloha Nihoa” is a name chant for Queen Emma, widow of Kamehameha IV and the grieving mother of the late Prince Albert. After their deaths, visits to Kaua‘i provided peace and comfort in her time of sorrow and mourning. From the uplands of Kaua‘i, she could also gaze out upon the island of Nihoa blanketed in sea spray.
In 1882, Malaea Punapana‘ewa Adams Boyd wrote this mele to be presented at the coronation of Kalākaua and Kapi‘olani on February 12, 1883. The composer lived in Maunawili and as she traveled over the Ko‘olau gap, she used the metaphor of lei making to bring together the variety of lei plants, winds and rains that fashioned a royal crown for the Queenʻs head.
The wāhine present two of the eight verses of “He Lei No Lili‘uokalani,” a lei chant written in honor of Queen Lili‘uokalani. In this and other similar lei chantsm, a deep affection is expressed for the ali‘i by their subjects throughout the archipelago. Kaua‘iʻs chant pays tribute to the beloved monarch by referencing some of the islandʻs most sacred and legendary places.
The striking imagery of the beautiful red and yellow hue of the ‘Ulalena rain adorns “the upland; Amid the beauty of Pi‘iholo.” This rhythmic dance is performed with the papa hehi (treadle board) accompanied with kāla‘au (dance sticks).
This mele inoa for Kamehameha I pays tribute to Paka‘alana, Chief Līloaʻs ancient temple in Waipi‘o Valley. “Wahine pi‘i ka pali” is from the legend of Hainakolo. This chiefess climed the cliff in Waipi‘o Valley, eating taboo ‘ulei berries without praying to the local deity, and she became sick. However, she recovered and resumed life in Waipi‘o.
Although there is no record of King Lunalilo ever sailing to America, this mele suggests that he was very fond of watching ships from America as they docked at Honolulu Harbor. The evening hours bring sudden memories of love and parting as the ships prepare to sail away. Perhaps this name chant for him also serves as a mele aloha for a loved one.