Hanohano ‘o Maui

An Essay by Kīhei de Silva                                                        << HMI MM 11 preview

Haku mele: Kahikina de Silva (words, August 1995). Moe Keale (music, February 1996), Kīhei de Silva and Many Boyd (words for the Ke‘anae and Wailuanui verses, February 2011).

Discography: 1) Moe Keale, Imagine, Pa‘ani PRD 1005. 2) Keali‘i Reichel, Melelana, Punahele Productions 1999. 3) Keali‘i Reichel, Kamahiwa, Punahele Productions 2005. 4. Uluwehi Guerrero, Nā Kumu Hula v2, State Council on Hawaiian Heritage 1999.

Kahikina de Silva composed this mele in August 1995 for the 12-year-olds of Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima who – after a year of studying Maui hula at home on O‘ahu – had just returned from three days of ‘ike-maka experiences on Maui itself. The travel sequence of Kahikina's song follows the itinerary of a workshop that we have been conducting, now, for almost twenty years. On day one, we visit ‘Īao Valley, discuss the legacies of Kāka'e and the battle of Ka‘ua‘upali, swim in the tingling waters of Kepaniwai, sing “Nā Ali‘i Puolani,” and dance “Maui o Kama,” and “Hanohano Waiehu.” On day two, we stop at what was once Pua Mana, think about beloved Hawaiian families and family homes, listen to the rustle of ‘ili‘ili in the surf, and dance “Pua Mana” and the Farden family version of “Kananaka.” Then we drive to Haleakalā, think of ‘āhinahina and ‘a‘ali‘i as metaphors of Hawaiian fragility and resilience, dance “Kuahiwi Nani ‘Oe” and “Kaulana ke Kuahiwi,” and then hike a short way into the crater for silent how-small-I-am meditation. Then we leave the chilly ‘Ūkiu rain of Haleakalā for our warm Kā‘anapali hotel. On our last day, we visit Lahaina where we sit, stunned at what was once Moku‘ula, laugh over the trickery on Lāna‘i of Kaululā‘au, add  “He Aloha nō ‘o Honolulu” to our repertoire, sing and dance the entire collection, and remind ourselves that the light of learning should burn without end.

“Hanohano ‘o Maui” is the poetic expression of this Maui itinerary. It moves, as we do, from ‘Īao to Pua Mana to Haleakalā to Kā‘anapali to Lele. It triggers memories of icy swims, Aunty Irmgard hulas, chilly mountain rains, warm hotel rooms, “Maui Snares the Sun” skits, filled-in fishponds, and missing breadfruit groves. And it is built, to a large extent, with the vocabulary of the traditional Maui songs that we take, teach, and perform in the course of our māka‘ika‘i: thus Kahikina’s “Kahi o nā hana le‘a a‘o Kananaka” echoes the “Hana ‘oi” and “Kahi a mākou” of the song “Kananaka”; thus her “Me ka ua hu‘ihu‘i koni i ka ‘ili” echoes the “Me ka ua hu‘i koni, konikoni ho‘i i ka ‘ili” of Alice Johnson’s “Kaulana ke Kuahiwi”; thus her “E aho nō ‘oe e komo mai” is the same “E aho” as that of Alice Namakelua’s “Kuahiwi Nani ‘Oe”; thus her “Pio ‘ole ke kukui i ka Ua‘ula,” is the same “Pio ‘ole” as that of Lot Kauwe’s “He Aloha nō ‘o Honolulu”; and thus her “‘O Maui a‘o Kama nō e ka ‘oi” echoes both the “Maui o Kama” of Aunty Vickie Ii Rodrigues’ collection and the “Maui nō ka ‘Oi” of the Rev. Sam Kapū Sr.’s pen. All told, “Hanohano ‘o Maui” is a new-but-old composition: it describes a contemporary tour whose focus is old places and old songs; its purpose is to make true old-timers out of our new generation.

We gave the words to Moe Keale in September of ’95, and he came back to us five months later – outside Punahou School’s Thurston Chapel, of all places – with a beautiful, lilting tune. The melody, he explained to us, came to him all at once while he was standing in line at the check-out counter of Mel’s Market. He put his groceries down, told the cashier “Wait, I’ll be right back,” and ran out to his car to get his ‘ukulele. “Once I play it, I can remember it; otherwise, it’s gone.” 

Moe recorded “Hanohano ‘o Maui” before the year was out, and we’ve taken it on every Maui trip since then. We teach each verse at the place for which it is written, and at the end of our stay – usually on the lawn next to the Baldwin House in Lahaina – we add what one of our haumāna calls “the last piece of the puzzle.” It is an “amazing feeling,” she continues, “to complete this dance that we have been working on for three days. I love learning dances at Hālauwai [our hālau], but it is truly a special experience to learn a dance written for us in the locations it was written about” (Jackie Thomas, 2007). Another of our young writers looked back on her three-day experience and arrived at this powerful conclusion

  1. Ua a‘o ‘ia au nā mea he nui ‘ino mai kēia huaka‘i a he mea nui kēlā ia‘u. Ma o nā wahi like ‘ole a mākou i hele ai – ke awāwa ‘o ‘Īao, Pua Mana, Haleakalā, Kā‘anapali, a me Lahaina – ua maopopo ia‘u ‘a‘ohe hula inā ‘a‘ohe mo‘olelo. ‘O ka mea nui o ka hula, ‘o ia ka mo‘olelo. Eia kekahi, he mea nui ia‘u ka ‘ike maka ‘ana i nā wahi āu e hula nei. Piha ka hau‘oli ma ko‘u na‘au; he huaka‘i kēia āu e ho‘omana‘o mau ai.

  1. I have learned so many things on this trip, and they are very important to me. Because of all the different places we have visited – ‘Īao Valley, Pua Mana, Haleakalā, Kā‘anapali, and Lahaina – I have come to understand that there is no hula if there is no story.  The most important aspect of hula is the story that goes with it. Also important to me is seeing, first-hand, the places that we dance for. I am filled with joy because of what I have learned; this is a trip that I will always remember.” [Hi‘ilei Mano‘i-Hyde, Maui trip journal entry, 2005, my English translation of Hi‘ilei‘s entry. Her complete journal is published on the KS Ka‘wakīloumoku website: http://apps.ksbe.edu/kaiwakiloumoku/makalii/feature-stories/maui_aku_nei ]

Makanani Akiona was a keiki on our 1999 māka‘ika‘i to Maui, and she has chaperoned the trip more than a half-dozen times since. We don’t take our keiki classes to Ke‘anae and Wailuanui, where Makanani’s father’s family is from, but we know where her heart goes every time we pass the Hāna Highway turnoff or look down the Ko‘olau Gap from Haleakalā. It was a no-brainer that we chose Hāmākua-Ke‘anae-Wailua mele for her kahiko and ‘auana performances this year, and when Makanani asked to do “Hanohano ‘o Maui” as her ka‘i-ho‘i for Alice Johnson's “Nani Wale Ke‘anae,” we felt that Kahikina’s song needed to go there, needed to take Makanani home.

Hence the two new verses. The first is for “ka wai kau mai,” the life-giving springs of Kāne and Kanaloa at Ke‘anae where the Akiona are still remembered as kahu of the guardian manō who was raised in one of those springs (The story of the shark Hi‘u is related by Uncle Jimmy Hueu in Ka Wai o ke Ola II:22-24, 135-136, and 157-8.). And the second is for the kiele and lo‘i kalo at Makanani’s grandmother’s home in Wailuanui. In keeping with the echo-effect established in Kahikina’s seven-verse mele, the new verses are meant to echo Mary Heanu’s “Ka Loke o Maui” (“I mahu‘i ho‘i au e like ‘ike lihi / I ka wai kau mai o Ke‘anae”) and Alice Johnson’s own “Nani Wale Ke‘anae” (“He nani nō ‘o ia i ka pua kiele”). All told, our intent here is processional – we want to gently convey our dancer, by means of a carefully amended song that already has great meaning for us, to a song and place that lie at the core of who she is.

Hanohano ‘o Maui

(new verses in italics)

Hanohano ‘o Maui i ka lei loke

A he nani hiwahiwa kū ho‘okahi.

  1. Maui is honored with the lei loke

  2. Hers is a singular and treasured beauty.

‘Akahi ho‘i au a ‘ike maka

I ka wai hu‘ihu‘i a‘o ‘Īao.

  1. I have just now experienced

  2. The icy waters of ‘Īao.

*Kau aku ka mana‘o a‘e ‘ike lihi

I ka wai kau mai a‘o Ke‘anae

  1. I hope to catch a glimpse

  2. Of Kawaikaumai at Ke‘anae

*Hā‘ale ke aloha no ka lei kiele

Me nā lau kapalili o Wailuanui

  1. I am filled with love for the lei kiele

  2. And the trembling kalo leaves of Wailuanui

(*Kīhei de Silva and Manu Boyd have since revised these verses; please refer to the updated words and note attached to the end of this essay.)

‘O ka nehe a ke kai i Pua Mana

Kahi o nā hana le‘a a‘o Kananaka

  1. The rustling of the sea at Pua Mana

  2. Where Kananaka merrily played.

Kuahiwi kilakila ‘o Haleakalā

Me ka ua hu‘ihu‘i koni i ka ‘ili.

  1. Haleakalā is a majestic mountain

  2. Whose chilly rains cause the skin to tingle.

E aho nō ‘oe e komo mai

I ka ‘āina pumehana o Kā‘anapali

  1. It is better that you enter

  2. The warm lands of Kā‘anapali.

Mehana ho‘i i ka Malu a‘o Lele

Pio ‘ole ke kukui i ka Ua‘ula.

  1. I will surely be warmed in the shelter of Lele

  2. Where light burns unextinguished by the ‘Ula rain.

Puana ka inoa a‘e lohe ‘ia

‘O Maui a‘o Kama nō e ka ‘oi.

  1. Tell the name that it may be heard

  2. Maui of Kama is definitely the best.


Lei loke. Marie McDonald (Ka Lei, 114) explains that two roses – the pink Damask (Rosa damascena) and the Luis Felipe (Rosa chinensis) – have been called roselani / lokelani by Hawaiian people. The Damask was taken to the Americas by the Spanish (thus it is sometimes called the Castilian rose) and then brought to Hawai‘i by New England sailors or missionary women in the early 1800s. The pink, sweet, long-lasting Damask soon became very popular in Hawaiian gardens of the mid-19th century, particularly in Lahaina and at McKee’s ‘Ulupalakua Rose Ranch. In 1923, a joint resolution of the Territorial Legislature designated the official “flower” of each of the eight islands: it came as no surprise when the roselani, the pink Damask, was given to the people who had already made it their own. For some reason (McDonald does not elaborate), the Damask began to die off and become increasingly rare. As a result, the more pest- and disease-resistant Luis Felipe became the Damask’s substitute. The Luis Felipe, now called lokelani, was probably a Chinese introduction; its bloom is small and either dark pink or red, with a pink center. It is not as fragrant as the Damask, nor does it hold up as well as a lei flower or cut flower.

Kawena Pukui (“Aspects of the Word Lei,” Directions in Traditional Pacific Literature, 105-6) offers additional information on the lokelani: she identifies the original flower of that name as the common small red rose. The popular Damask (she calls it Castilian) was originally named loke Hawai‘i. "When the Damask became associated with Maui, however, it came to be known by the name of its less spectacular cousin.”

‘Īao. Kamehameha invaded Maui in 1790; after a series of inconclusive skirmishes along the Hāmākua coast, his forces used a cannon they had named Lopaka to help them defeat the Maui army of Kalanikūpule at ‘Īao valley. Although most of the Maui chiefs were able to escape, their warriors were massacred; the bodies of Maui’s dead fell into ‘Īao stream, dammed-up the waters, and caused it to run red for days afterwards (Kawena Pukui, ‘Ōlelo No‘eau, #1029). In memory of this defeat, the battle site was named for the blocked water of ‘Īao: Kepaniwaio‘īao” (or Ka‘uwa‘upali, the “clawed” at cliffs of warriors attempting to escape the slaughter). ‘Īao is remembered today as the site of this battle, but ‘Īao was an important place long before Kamehameha fought here. The valley is surrounded on three sides by high cliffs named Nāpalikapuokāka‘e (The Sacred Cliffs of Kāka‘e; sometimes Nāpelakapuokāka‘e, The Sacred Flesh of Kāka‘e) after a high-ranking chief of 15th century Maui whose bones were hidden in a cave somewhere in these pali. Since then, many Maui ali‘i have been buried here – all in secret places where none can disturb their rest (‘Ōlelo No‘eau, #1473).

Ka wai kau mai o Keʻanae. “Here the God Kāne, accompanied by Kanaloa, thrust his kauila staff into solid rock, and water gushed forth” (Kawena Pukui, Place Names, 103). Consequently, this spring was named “the placed/suspended water of Kāne.” Martha Beckwith summarizes the story in Hawaiian Mythology, 64-5:

  1. Kane and Kanaloa go into the precipitous mountains back of Keanae on Maui and lack water. They discuss whether it can be obtained at this height. “Oi-ana (Let it be seen)!” says Kanaloa; so Kane thrusts in his staff made of heavy, close-grained kauila wood (Alphitonia excelsa) and water gushes forth…Two holes are pointed out just below the road across Ohia gulch beyond Keanae on Maui where Kane dug his spear first into one hole and then into the other with the words, “This is for you, that for me.”

Kananaka. Our version of “Kananaka” was taught to Māpuana by Aunty Irmgard Aluli who learned it from her sister, Emma Sharpe, who learned it from the “old ladies” of Lahaina in 1919. According to Aunty Irmgard (personal communication, 1988), this sea-nymph was the leader of a band of playful mermaids. On nights when the moon cast a silvery sheen on the ocean, the band would frolic in the surf near Lahaina, riding waves over the sandbar at a river mouth, building hills of sand on the shoreline, and singing all the while their joyous songs. Kananaka’s merry games did not take place on the beach at Pua Mana, but “Hanohano ‘o Maui” honors the keepers of “Kananaka” – the aunties Irmgard and Emma – by assigning the mermaids’ activities to the site of the aunties’ home, a place of equally joyful music. 

E aho nō ‘oe.  The fourth verse of Alice Namakelua’s “Kuahiwi Nani ‘Oe” suggests that the listener leave the ‘Ūkiu rains of Haleakalā and relax at Maluokeao (Shelter of the Clouds), Wailuku:  “E aho nō ‘oe a‘e komo mai / A e ho‘ola‘i ka Maluokeao.” Since our departure from Haleakalā ends in west Maui rather than Wailuku, “Hanohano ‘o Maui” takes us to a different shelter in the warm land of Kā‘anapali. The echo of Aunty Alice’s song, however, is no accident; the visitor’s need for relief from cold and high altitude is shared by both compositions.

Malu-a‘o-Lele. This is the short form of Malu ‘Ulu o Lele (The Breadfruit Shade of Lele), an epithet for the old town of Lahaina, formerly known as Lele. In ancient times, a large grove of breadfruit trees grew here. The rascal chief Kaululā‘au, who is said to have had an enormous appetite for ‘ulu, chopped down and uprooted nearly all of the trees in the grove in order to satisfy his craving. As punishment, he was banished to Lāna‘i, an island inhabited by ghosts. He was expected to die there, but he tricked the ghosts, killed them all, and returned triumphantly to Maui. Kaululā‘au’s father was Kāka‘alaneo. Kāka’alaneo’s brother was Kaka’e, the chief who began the tradition of royal burials at ‘Īao.

Kukui ‘a‘ā mau / Pio ‘ole i ka Ua‘ula. The ever-burning kukui is often interpreted as the Lahaina lighthouse at Mala, but Kawena Pukui points out that the reference is probably to the light of learning at Lahainaluna School on the hillside above the town (‘Ōlelo No‘eau, #1414). The Ua‘ula of Lahaina sweeps down on the town from Kaua‘ula Valley; it is famous for knocking down the grass houses of Lele and for twice demolishing the Waine‘e church. When the Ua‘ula winds carry the evening rain down from the mountains, the sunset reflects of the raindrops and turns them red; thus the name ka-ua-‘ula, the red rain.

A Final Revision

Date: 2/26/11

To: The Merrie Monarch Festival Committee and Judges, 2011

From:Māpuana and Kīhei de Silva, Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima

Re: Fact Sheet Revision for Makanani Akiona – Miss Aloha Hula Division – ‘Auana – Hula Ka‘i


Manu Boyd and Kīhei have collaborated on a revised version of Kīhei’s two new verses (verses three and four) for Makanani Akiona’s ka‘i: “Hanohano ‘o Maui.”

As first submitted:

  1. Kau aku ka mana‘o a‘e ‘ike lihi

  2. I ka wai kau mai a‘o Ke‘anae

  1. I hope to catch a glimpse

  2. Of Kawaikaumai at Ke‘anae

  1. Hā‘ale ke aloha no ka lei kiele

  2. Me nā lau kapalili o Wailuanui

  1. I am filled with love for the lei kiele

  2. And the trembling kalo leaves of Wailuanui

As now revised:

  1. Ua ao ke aloha no ka lei kiele

  2. Me nā lau kapalili o Wailuanui

  1. Affection dawns for the lei kiele

  2. And the trembling kalo leaves of Wailuanui

  1. Kau nui ka mana‘o a e ‘ike lihi

  2. I ka wai kau mai a‘o Ke‘anae

  1. How I yearn to catch a glimpse

  2. Of Kawaikaumai at Ke‘anae

Makanani’s ka‘i will thus end with: “I ka wai kau mai a‘o Ke‘anae,” and her competition hula will begin with “Nani wale ka ‘ikena iā Ke‘anae.”  We like the flow of language and sound in the revised ka‘i (ho‘okahi/‘akahi…‘Īao/Ua ao…Wailuanui/Kau nui) and the carry-over of that same flow from “Ke‘anae” to “Ke‘anae” as Makanani moves from the first mele to the second. Manu thinks of the revision in sequence as “approaching Wailuanui from a distance with its beckoning fragrance, allow[ing] us, then, to zoom right in to Ke‘anae (macro to micro).” I think of it as “hooking back” in thought and yearning as Makanani travels, in Kahikina’s original song, from ‘Īao to Pua Mana.

Mahalo for your patience,

Kīhei and Māpuana de Silva

© Kīhei de Silva 2011.  All rights reserved.
This essay was published in Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima's 2011 Merrie Monarch Fact Sheet. 

It is offered here in slightly revised and updated form.