Ho‘opuka e ka Lā i Kai o Mālei

An Essay by Kīhei de Silva                                                        << HMI MM preview 2014

Haku Mele:  Kahikina de Silva, 2011.

This has become the mele hula ka‘i of our hālau. We have certainly tried more than once, over our 40-year history, to compose something on the order of the traditional ho‘opuka of “Unulau” and “ka hikina,” but nothing stuck until our own Kahikina put pen to moleskine for our 2012 hula kahiko entry in this festival. Her ka‘i rings with the names of our cherished places and guardians, with a procession of uhu, pu‘u, breeze, and birds, and with a call to the kini kupa of Kailua to rise, remember, and reclaim. Most of all, her ka‘i honors the words of MKP, our teacher’s teacher, who once explained:

  1. The sun rises flooding the earth with light, and bringing forth vitality to all nature. The Hawaiians wished for life, health, and growth in dancing and expressed it by building the kuahu on the east side. Hawaiians also expressed this wish by associating the entrance of a dancer with the appearance in the east of that same golden sun. Like the rising sun, the dancer brings with her the promise of some-thing considerably more important than mere entertainment: she brings life itself.1

Much to her father’s delight, Kahikina has hereby surpassed his best (and now retired) efforts.

Ho‘opuka ē ka Lā i Kai o Mālei

Hoʻopuka ē ka lā i kai o Mālei2 ē

E piʻi aʻela i luna o Wailea 3

Kahu o ka ʻena ʻau i ke kai 4

E ala nā kini kupa o Kailua ē

Eia Hiʻiaka-wāwahi-lani ē

ʻEa lā, ʻea lā, ʻeā.

Ka hikina a ka lā i Puʻuoehui5

Kāunu pū ana me ka Malanai 6

Hoʻolaʻi nā ʻiwa me Hiʻiaka

Me nā wāhine ʻili aʻiaʻi 7

E kaʻi mai ana, e kaʻi mai ana

Hoʻopuka ē ka lā i Wailea

ʻEa lā, ʻea lā, ʻeā.

He inoa no Hiʻiakaikapoliopele.

The sun rises at the sea of Mālei

Rising above Wailea

That keeper of burning affection, reaching into the sea

Arise O children born of Kailua

Here is Hi‘iaka-heavenly-dawn-breaker

ʻEa lā, ʻea lā, ʻeā.

The sun arrives at Pu‘uoehu

Joining in love with the Malanai

Soaring are the ‘iwa with Hi‘iaka

With the bright-skinned women, Hauwahine and Kahalakea

Entering, entering

Yes, the sun rises at Wailea.

ʻEa lā, ʻea lā, ʻeā.

A name chant for Hi‘iakaikapoliopele.


1 Mary Kawena Pukui, “Hulas of Kaua‘i,” HI.M.72:5, Bishop Museum Archives.

2 Malei: The guardian of Makapu‘u and the procession of uhu in the sea below. Hi‘iaka addresses her with affection upon arriving on O‘ahu from the east.

3 Wailea: The promontory of the Ka‘iwa ridge that separates Waimānalo from Ka‘ōhao. Named for Lea, the guardian of canoe fleets, fishermen, and po‘e hula.

4 Kahu o ka ‘ena ‘au i ke kai: A play on the Wailea epithet made somewhat popular by the poet’s father: “Ka wahine ki‘a‘i ‘au i ke kai.” Here the guardian woman is renamed “Kahu o ka ‘ena,” the keeper of both the burning sunrise and the intense affections of the people who live with and love her.

5 Pu‘uoehu: The hill that overlooks Kawainui and Ka‘elepulu at the entrance to what is now Kailua town. It emerges from darkness as the third in this mele’s procession of pu‘u over which the sun rises, bringing light and life to our Kailua home.

6 Malanai: The beloved breeze of Kailua. It arrives from the ocean and travels inland across Kailua following a path similar to that of the approaching sun.

7 Ho‘ola‘i…me nā wahine a‘ia‘i: An allusion to the story of Hi‘iaka’s journey through Kailua. When she greets the guardian mo‘o of Kawainui with the chant “‘O Kailua i ke oho o ka Malanai,” the two beautiful, bright-skinned women turn into ‘iwa and rise into the sky. It is only in Kailua that Hi‘iaka and her traditional enemies, the mo‘o, demonstrate mutual respect and manage to keep the peace.

© Kahikina de Silva, 2011.  All rights reserved.