Huapala Hula

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



Haku mele:  Unknown.

Date:  The Bishop Museum Archives Mele Index identifies “Huapala Hula” as having been composed in “18__.” Our research suggests an early 1880s date: the time at which the people of Ke‘anae petitioned Kalākaua’s Crown Land commissioners to deny the disposal of their water rights to Claus Spreckels, “ka ona miliona o Kamaomao.”[1]

Source:  Mele Book, Kapiolani-Kalanianaole Collection, HI.M.30 p. 319, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Archives.

Our Text:  Mele Book, Kapiolani-Kalanianaole Collection, HI.M.30 p. 319. Orthography and English translation by Kīhei de Silva.





1.

Aloha mai au i ka‘u huapala

I love my huapala

‘Ai pōpō‘ulu a‘o Ke‘anae

The pōpō‘ulu eater of Ke‘anae


2.

Eia mai au a‘o Kawelo

Here I am, Kawelo

Keiki lā‘au o Ku‘ukāpili

Forest child of Ku‘ukāpili


3.

Nāna e pohu aku Kūkōpiko

He by whom Kūkōpiko is soothed

Ha‘alulu wai neki i ke ko‘eko‘e

Trembling neki water in the chill


Who could doubt the temperament of a mele whose opening verse expresses love for the banana-eating sweetheart of Ke‘anae and whose composer, in verses two and three, identifies himself as the kūkōpiko-soothing lā‘au of Ku‘ukāpili? The imagery here is natural, lush, and highly suggestive. We have huapala (ripe fruit, trumpet vine, sweetheart), pōpō‘ulu (one of the few varieties of banana that women were traditionally allowed to eat), keiki lā‘au (forest child, the little wood), pohu (calmed, soothed), ha‘alulu wai neki (reed-water trembling), and a trio of proper nouns that speak of passionate attraction: Kawelo (the fluttering, the progeny), Kūkōpiko (piko arousal), and Ku‘ukāpili (my fitting-together).


Surely this is a mele ho‘oipoipo; surely the rest of its verses will linger, in equally sensual language, over the joyful union of land, man, and woman in inspiring, ho‘oulu lāhui fashion.  But this is not what happens. Although the imagery of sexual encounter continues in the ten verses that follow, the mele’s amorous language quickly becomes strident, its geography shifts away from the native heart of Ke‘anae, and its ho‘oipoipo sentiments give rise to an aloha ‘āina protest against invasion and greed.


4.

Kā iho ko luna, pi‘i a‘e ko lalo

That which belongs above slams down, that which belongs below rises up

Pa‘a pono nā kui a ka Wilikī

Held fast are the instruments of the engineer


Verse four begins with a line that repeats the huliau prophecy of Kapihe – “e iho mai ana ko luna, e pi‘i aku ana ko lalo”[2] – and weds it, in the next line, to the hammering down and bouncing up of a wilikī and his kui pa‘a pono (an engineer and his firmly held, pointed instruments). The allusion, we think, is to the water diverting and flume building activities of Baldwin and Spreckels in the 1870s and ’80s when the natural order of high and low, rain and stream, ‘auwae and lo‘i in the Hāmākua and Ko‘olau districts of Maui, was disrupted by the sugar barons of the Ha‘ikū and Pu‘unēnē plantations. The language here is still sexual (nail-pounding, screw-driving, down- and up-ing), but it has shifted from the mutually shared, kua‘āina joy of the first three verses, to the ravaging by outsiders of a time-honored land and lifestyle.


5.

Inā paha ‘oe a e ‘ike maka

If only you could witness

I ka hana no‘eau a ke akamai

The skillful work of the expert


The poet pauses, in verse five, to speak directly to us in words that drip with irony and warning: “If only you could see, first hand, the skillful work of this expert.” Ke‘anae, for now, is just outside the reach of the wilikī, but over in Hāmakua, thanks to “ka hana no‘eau a ke akamai,” nothing is where it is should be. The engineers are going at it; up is down; down is up; the old ways are falling; everything is up for grabs.


6. 

Ana pa‘a aku ‘o ka ‘Ūkiu

The ‘Ūkiu has had enough

Pa‘a pono i ka uka lā o Kokomo

Held fast in the uplands of Kokomo


7.

Ho‘okomo ke li‘i noho i ka malu

The ali‘i who dwells in shade has entered

I ka ulu kukui o Kaukaweli

The kukui grove of Kaukaweli


Verses six and seven express, in subtle metaphors of repression and shade-seeking, the poet’s pent-up frustration with diverted streams, encroached-upon water rights, and planter-government collusion. The usually skin-tingling, quick-moving ‘Ūkiu rain of Makawao finds itself trapped down slope and unable to follow its usual path to the sea. It is ana pa‘a (securely measured/contained, stuffed) and pa‘a pono (held completely in check) at Kokomo – at the very site of Henry P. Baldwin’s most audacious, ditch-connecting exploit: the running of siphon-flow pipes down and back up the nearly vertical, 250-foot walls Maliko Gulch.[3] Makawao is on one side of this gulch; Kokomo is below and on the other. The Hāmākua Ditch cuts laterally across Maliko at Kokomo; it is the ālai that blocks the upland rain, captures its water, and redirects it – by pipe, culvert, tunnel, and flume – to the otherwise arid cane fields of Alexander and Baldwin.  


Ana pa‘a can also mean “totally fed-up,” an accurate description of the emotional state of our kua‘āina poet as he now gives vent to his disapproval of Kalākaua, “ke ali‘i noho i ka malu” (the shade dwelling chief) who has entered “ka ulu kukui o Kaukaweli” (the kukui grove of Terror). This “grove,” as explained in Ka Lei Rose o Hawaii, was an epithet for the building that housed the much-feared, missionary teaching staff of Lahainaluna School.[4] To enter and reside in the shade of Kaukaweli was to fall under the sway of its missionaries and, by extension, their sugar-planter sons. Two of those sons, Samuel Alexander and Henry Baldwin, were said to have kept the king and his cabinet “well-fed” in 1876 when the crown granted A&B’s petition for the water rights to the proposed Hāmākua ditch. Two years later, Kalākaua found an even more lucrative malu (including a gift of $10,000 and a loan of $40,000)[5] when he expedited a lease that allowed Claus Spreckels to construct a proposed Hāna to Maliko ditch that would “take all the waters not heretofore utilized,” and convey them to the Spreckels’ plantation on Maui’s central plain.”[6]


8.

Weliweli mai au ‘o ke Kāpena

I, the Captain, am awe-struck, terrified

O ke kuleana o nei waiwai

By responsibility for this treasure


The kaukaweli of verse seven gives rise, in verse eight, to the poet’s own weliweli – his sense of awe and terror – over the captaining of these kūleana wai (water rights). He  introduced himself earlier as Kawelo Keiki Lā‘au (the kua‘āina progeny); he now adds the title Kāpena (Captain), and he lays fierce (weliweli), many rooted (weliweli) claim, regardless of his trepidation (weliweli), to this treasure of water and water-fed land. In the final analysis, we interpret his multi-layered statement as one of bottom-line, kua‘āina sovereignty. Whatever else happens, he and the back-country descendants of Ke‘anae are determined steer their own course and stick to their old ‘ai pōpō‘ulu ways. 


9.

Ua kōhi ‘ai nō ka Nolewai

The Norwegian has been plucking kalo

E kokolo i ke kula o Kama‘oma‘o

Moving along to the plain of Kama‘oma‘o


The Hāmākua Ditch was completed in 1878. It took its water from the six major streams of Hāmākualoa: Honopou, Holawa, Huelo, Hoalua, Kailua, and Nā‘ili‘ilihaele.[7] The  Spreckels’ ditch was completed two years later and reached all the way from the Kama‘oma‘o Plain at Pu‘unēnē to Nu‘a‘ailua Stream in Honomanu, Ko‘olau – just one ahupua‘a short of Ke‘anae.[8] Where the earlier verses of our mele – six and seven, in particular – seem to focus on the upheaval caused by the Hāmakua Ditch, the ninth verse is clearly directed at Spreckels and his more recent invasion of Honomanu. Claus Spreckels, “ka Ona Miliona o Kama‘oma‘o,” was of Norwegian-German ancestry.[9] He is the Nolewai (Norwegian) of this verse whose nolewai (maelstrom, whirlpool) of captured and diverted water is the cause of the nole wai (water-sickness) with which the windward slopes of Haleakalā are afflicted. Spreckels’ work here is described as kōhi ‘ai (taro picking) as he flows in kokolo (creeping, gently moving, humble in posture) fashion to the plain of Kama‘oma‘o (the greenness). The irony of this language, as with that of the earlier “hana no‘eau a ke akamai,” lies in its apparently happy characterization of a decidedly unhappy truth: the Miliona is not humbly harvesting taro in a fertile land, he is absconding with the water necessary for its growth, and he is taking that water to a land traditionally associated with death and desolation.


A na uhane aumakua ole, iho lakou i ka lua po, a mai laila mai lakou e hookuuia ai e hele auwana ma na na wahi panoa e huli ai i mea ai na lakou. A ua oleloia, o lakou na uhane e noho nei ma ke Kula o Kamaomao, a o ka lakou ai he pulelehua a me ka pinao.[10]


This, says our defiant backwoods poet, is what threatens the lands watered by Kāne and Kanaloa.[11  Spreckels is just over the next ridge. Unless Ke‘anae holds fast to its identity, all that it values will be spirited ma’ō (far way) to the millionaire’s plain of banished spirits. 


10.

Ha‘ina ‘ia mai ana ka puana

The summary is told

‘Ai pōpō‘ulu a‘o Ke‘anae.

The pōpō‘ulu eater of Ke‘anae.


Our mele does not end on a happy note. It has taken us, instead, on a journey that begins with the ‘ai pōpō ‘ulu of love-making and leaves us with the ‘ai pōpō’ulu/‘ai pōhaku/‘ai kamaha‘o of proud resistance. Our mele seeks to celebrate and defend the carefully ordered, everything-in-its-place lifestyle of the kua‘āina against the no-holds-barred, all-is-up-for-grabs world of the outsider. There is no place in Ke‘anae, it says, for insatiable, indiscriminate consumption. The lives of its people are defined by an older way and order. Although the responsibility terrifies them, they will become the captains of their own fate and legacy – even as Spreckels starts drilling next door.


The poet of “Huapala Hula” was not alone. On September 12, 1881, a committee of thirteen concerned Ke‘anae residents, sent the following petition to H.A.P Carter and J.S. Walker (Kalākaua’s commissioners of Crown Lands):


We the Committee, whose names are below, we request your kind consideration. Do not dispose of any of the water-rights of the Crown Lands, those being from Honomanu, Keanae, and Wailua, to the millionaire of Kamaomao. Because, if any of the water-rights of the above described Crown Lands are disposed of, then, the King’s subjects, living on said lands, will be troubled. That which has been done by The Millionaire with the waters of other lands is known, and because of these known troubles, we beg you to put an end to the taking of water from the lands which were described above.


In truth of this, we sign our names,

[J.W. Kehuhu and 12 others][12]


We have no record of the commissioners’ response to this carefully worded request, but we do know that Ke‘anae enjoyed a quarter-century respite from the incursions of what would become the East Maui Irrigation Company. In 1905, however, the newly completed Ko‘olau Ditch added the valleys of Ke‘anae, the two Wailua, and Nāhiku to the long arm of the EMI.[13] As predicted, the lives of the once-King’s subjects, living on said lands, were troubled (and are still troubled today) by a litany of issues related to water rights, water supply, and water quality.  But, as promised by the poet of “Huapala Hula,” the kua‘āina backbone of Ke‘anae stiffened in bottom-line sovereignty to celebrate and defend what Davianna MacGregor calls a “cultural kīpuka” characterized by “the unbroken continuity of … beliefs, customs, and practices in a thriving, predominantly Native Hawaiian community at the end of the twentieth century.”[14]


The old ways persist at Ke‘anae because the descendants of the poet and petitioners have not given up.  The Mitchells, Akinas, Nakaneluas, Akionas, Kaauamos, Kimokeos, Hueus, Alus, Days... That they still know how to fight is evident the 2001 testimony of Cindy Ka‘auamo:


Water is a source of life to land and man. It is not for man to possess, but simply for man to use.  However, the right to use water depends entirely upon the use of it.  The people of Keanae-Wailuanui Ahupuaa have respected the rights of water use for many generations.  Our ancestors have taught us that water is of great value.  Without it there is no life. The decrease of water flow affects all life in, around and on this land.  It prevents spawning of opae and oopu, disrupting the natural process of reproduction resulting in decreased food supply.  In addition, making it harder for people to gather. Insufficient water flow decreases water temperature causing stagnation, allowing small ponds to become host[s to] bacteria, spreading disease among striving creatures, plant life and even man. Finally, the interruption of natural water flow affects taro. Diseases, foreign pest, decrease in production, frustration among farmers and a threat to our Hawaiian Culture as well as our way of life. Like our ancestors, the people of Keanae-Wailuanui Ahupuaa understand the importance of water for all life.  Because of this, we have inherited the rights of trusteeship over our natural resources. As a trustee, I ask that you answer this question...  Do you value the comfort of man or the life of man?...  Think about it and do what is right.  Restore our streams...  Give life not death![15]


That they still know how to celebrate is evident in “Huapala Hula,” presented here, for the first time in perhaps a century, by Makanani Akiona.



Huapala Hula


Aloha mai au i ka‘u huapala

I love my huapala

The pōpō‘ulu eater of Ke‘anae


Here I am, Kawelo

Forest child of Ku‘ukāpili


He by whom Kūkōpiko is soothed

Trembling neki water in the chill


That which belongs above slams down, that which belongs below rises up

Held fast are the instruments of the engineer


If only you could witness

The skillful work of the expert


The ‘Ūkiu has had enough

Held fast in the uplands of Kokomo


The ali‘i who dwells in shade has entered

The kukui grove of Kaukaweli


I, the Captain, am awed, terrified

By responsibility for this treasure


The Norwegian has been plucking kalo

Moving along to the plain of Kama‘oma‘o


The summary is told

The pōpō‘ulu eater of Ke‘anae.      


‘Ai pōpō‘ulu a‘o Ke‘anae


Eia mai au a‘o Kawelo

Keiki lā‘au o Ku‘ukāpili


Nāna e pohu aku Kūkōpiko

Ha‘alulu wai neki i ke ko‘eko‘e


Kā iho ko luna, pi‘i a‘e ko lalo

Pa‘a pono nā kui a ka Wilikī



Inā paha ‘oe a e ‘ike maka

I ka hana no‘eau a ke akamai


Ana pa‘a aku ‘o ka ‘Ūkiu

Pa‘a pono i ka uka lā o Kokomo


Ho‘okomo ke li‘i noho i ka malu

I ka ulu kukui o Kaukaweli


Weliweli mai au ‘o ke Kāpena

O ke kuleana o nei waiwai


Ua kōhi ‘ai nō ka Nolewai

E kokolo i ke kula o Kama‘oma‘o


Ha‘ina ‘ia mai ana ka puana

‘Ai pōpō‘ulu a‘o Ke‘anae.



Notes


  1. 1.  Ona Miliona means “owner of millions; millionaire” and quickly became an epithet for Spreckels. The name had several variations, among them: “Ka ona miliona Mr. Spreckels,” (Kuokoa, 16 Kepakemaka 1876), “Ona Miliona o Kamaomao” (Ke Koo o Hawaii, 10 Okakopa, 1883), “Ona Miliona” (Hawaii Holomua, 18 Ianuali, 1893; Ka Makaainana, 12 Malaki 1894; Ka Makaainana, 18 Nowemapa, 1895), and “Kalausa Sepekela ka ona miliona” (Ka Makaainana, 12 Nowemapa, 1894).


  2. 2.  E hui ana na aina,

  3. The lands will be united;

  4. E iho mai ana ko ka lani,

  5. That which is above will come down,

  6. E pii aku ana ko lalo nei,

  7. That which is below willll rise up,

  8. E iho mai ana ke akua ilalo nei…

  9. The god will come down…

  10. (Ka Hae Hawaii, Mei 23, 1860; my translation)

This prophecy has almost as many interpretations as versions, but it seems most appropriate here an allusion to fall of the old ways (including the ‘ai kapu that restricted the eating of bananas by women) after the death of the island-uniting Kamehameha I.


3.  Leonard Lueras, “Digging the Ditch,” On the Hana Coast, 88.


4. The building, when seen at night from the town below, resembled an ulu kukui – a grove of sparkling lights; hence the name given to it by the students of Lahainaluna: “ka ulu kukui o Kaukaweli, ka ipu-kukui pio ole i kamakani kauaula” (Ka Lei Rose, 15 Aukake 1898).  Mary Kawena Pukui, in ‘Ōlelo No‘eau, #2868, offers a slightly different explanation: she identifies Kaukaweli as an actual Lahainaluna kukui grove and field named for the notoriously short-tempered Rev. John Pogue and for the anatomy class skeletons kept in the closet of a nearby building.


5. Gavan Daws, Shoal of Time, 227.


6. Ralph Kuykendal, The Hawaiian Kingdom, III:66.


7. Kepā and Onaona Maly, Wai o Ke Ola: He Wahi Mo‘olelo no Maui Hikina, Kumu Pono Associates, 2002, vI:461.


8. Ibid. 475.


  1. 9.  Spreckels Organ Society Newsletter, San Diego CA, Dec. 2009; http://www.sosorgan.com/stoptab/Winter%2009%20Stoptab.pdf


10.  Ka Makaainana, 22 Ianuali, 1895: “Those without ‘aumakua descend into the pit of night where they are released to wander in barren places in search of food. It is said that these spirits dwell on the plain of Kama‘oma‘o and that butterflies and moths are their food” (my translation). See also: Fornander Collection, V:572 and VI:213, and Mary Kawena Pukui, Place Names of Hawai‘i, 81.


11. Martha Beckwith, Hawaiian Mythology, 62.  “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. “Oiana (Let it be seen)!” says Kanaloa; so Kane thrusts in his staff … and water gushes forth...Two holes are pointed out just below the road across Ohia gulch beyond Keanae… The water gushing from these apertures is called “the water of Kane and Kanaloa.”


12. This is Kepā Maly‘s translation, in Ka Wai o ke Ola, I:482, of the original petition: Hawai‘i State Archives, Interior Department Box 55 – Water Maui & Molokai, 1866-1877.


13. Ka Wai o ke Ola, I:445.

 

14. Davianna McGregor, Nā Kua‘āina, Living Hawaiian Culture, 292.


  1. 15.DLNR State of Hawai‘i, Instream Flow Standard Assessment Report, Island of Maui, Hydrologic Unit 6054, Ohia, December 2009, 73.






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

It is offered here in slightly revised and updated form.