It seems the Welo Hou blog has been up since November of 2017, with posts every Monday. If you are a mele person, or a history person, or are from Hawaii nei, you should check it out and start a dialogue! This is its opening post from last year [click anywhere below to link to the blog]:
“Through the interpretation of the ancient prayers and mele of Hawaii we would gain, in connection with them, much valuable information concerning the life of old. We would learn much more of the arts and crafts, of language and culture- of religion of medicine, of fishing farming, tapa-making, canoe-building, games, dances of the location of lands and the origin of their appellations, of stars, clouds, winds, rains, surfs, fishing-grounds, etc. new light, perchance would be thrown on Hawaiian migrations and origin; stronger connecting-links would be formed with other island groups of Polynesia; a surer basis could be laid for the translation of abstruse native legal documents; thousands of new words would be made available; with best examples of usage, for as complete as possible a lexicon of the Hawaiian language.” – Kokua (The Honolulu Advertiser, April 22, 1931.)
As I ponder this question framed within the context of the above quote, my mind begins to churn with examples stemming from my own life and learning experiences. I recall my early childhood years in keiki hula class where I proudly chanted “Kūnihi ka mauna” while oblivious to the meaning of the words that were resonating from my mouth. Yet even in my naivety, I understood the function and purpose of that oli kahea. Though my mind was too young to comprehend the arbitrary words formed by my lips, I was fully aware that I had to be focused and present-minded in order to be granted permission into the hālau. This is a small example of how, even at 5 years old, mele/oli had already begun to shape my perspective to be one that reflects a Hawaiian way of thinking and behaving. “Kūnihi ka mauna” followed me into the academic arena where I eventually learned how to dissect the mele word for word, structure by structure, phrase by phrase, and sound by sound. I learned about the different places referenced in the mele and discovered the kaona behind words. I came to know the story by which the mele was inspired and I internalized the knowledge gained through the deconstruction and reconstruction of this mele. I share these thoughts with the hope that we can collectively become even more conscious of the way in which mele is able to shed light on aspects that are often considered obscure in research and Hawaiian knowledge acquisition.
As we meet here weekly for Mele Monday, I invite you to ponder deeply on the pieces we will discuss from the Roberts’ Mele Collection over the next two years. The purpose of this blog is to cultivate a community of mele enthusiasts who would like to dialogue about the gems uncovered from within the mele we will explore over the coming weeks. Please feel free to ask questions, share manaʻo, and post comments that will contribute to the facilitation of thoughtful and respectful discourse.