We hope you’ve been enjoying our #MeleMonday series highlighting content found in the Roberts Mele Collection. As we near the end of the Welo Hou project, we humbly ask for your feedback via this short survey. Your participation is much appreciated and will help us assess how we can better serve our community moving forward.
Did you see the call for responses for survey from the Welo Hou project (Mele Mondays) from Bishop Museum? The photo below is of Kamehaitu Helela of Hanapepe. She was just one of the many people who shared their knowledge of mele with Helen H. Roberts, who went around the islands in 1923–24 collecting and recording mele.
I have been in a weird funk for a while with all of what is going on in the world. But I just saw that the Welo Hou blog from Bishop Museum is back!
Maybe the museum is closed for a while to the public, but the work still goes on,
Check it out, a prayer for well being! OLA!
Happy Mele Monday!
MELE, LEGEND CONTRIBUTORS ARE THANKED
Hawaiian Folklore Commission Names Many Islanders
The names of many well-known residents of the various island communities have been mentioned in a report which Miss Helen H. Roberts has recently sent from the mainland. Miss Roberts left Hawaii some weeks ago after spending a year in the compilation of a collection of ancient music and meles for the Hawaiian Legends and Folklore Commission.
The contributors of meles or music by recitation are mentioned in one group and the contributors of written collections are mentioned in another: Continue reading
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.
Click the link below for the blog post I referred to in the Kapiolani mele post earlier today. Check out the Mary Kawena Pukui translation for the Mokumanu oki!
SOMETHING WORTHWHILE HELPING
In this past Legislative session, $5,000 was set aside for the cost to prepare a book of “Ancient Hawaiian Music”. This endeavor has been given to Kamehameha School, and they are now utilizing this to preserve the “old mele olioli” of Hawaii nei. Miss Helen H. Roberts has been sent by the Trustees of the Kamehameha School to go amongst the Hawaiians and to search out ancient mele of Hawaii nei.
She is accompanied by a phonograph [ponotalapa (ipu malama olelo)], and is looking to have people chant ancient mele into the phonograph and to record and save it for generations to come. Not only mele olioli are being sought after, but also wanted are mele hula hoaeae of the Hawaiians. Many years from now the people who know these old mele will be gone, but these mele olioli and mele hoaeae will become something to look back to the history of the Hawaiian Lahui.
This will be something that will look for where the Hawaiians came from, whereas also being sought are mele of other Polynesians while comparing these ancient mele with the ancient mele of Hawaii.
This is something that the old people who are fluent for instance in the old mele hoaeae of Hawaii nei should assist in.
This is not being done for monetary profit, but to seek the ancient things of the beloved Kupuna of this Lahui; and for all Hawaiians who have pride in the fame of their Lahui, there is no reason for them to withhold these ancient things of the Kupuna and to go to the grave without leaving these blessings for those coming after them. We ask Rev. W. M. Kalaiwaa and Rev. William Kamau of the Kohala districts to support this great endeavor for the acclaim of the Hawaiian Lahui. We are also helping to move this project along with what little we have, being that this will help to perpetuate the great Moolelo of the Hawaiian People.
A survey of ancient Hawaiian music was conducted, 1923–24, by Miss Helen H. Roberts under the auspices of the Hawaiian Folk-Lore Commission represented by John R. Galt, chairman; Edna J. Hill, secretary; Mrs. Emma Ahuena Taylor, Hawaiian member. In cooperation with the Commission, manuscripts resulting from the survey are published by Bernice P. Bishop Museum.]
(Hoku o Hawaii, 12/6/1923, p. 2)