Maika‘i Kaua‘i


This mele was written by Caesar Kapa‘akea, the father of Kalākaua, who composed it in honor of Bernice Pauahi Bishop's adopted son, Keolaokalani. The song is based on an older chant that honors Kaumūali‘i, the last ruling chief of Kaua‘i. Henry Waiau, the choir director of the Līhu‘e Hawaiian Church put Kapa‘akea's chant to music; in Waiau's time, the song was called "Lei i ka Mokihana."

The first and last verses are often sung in friendly mixed-group competition; the first verse, for example, is assigned to women and the last to men; each group sings its verse separately, and then the two groups sing together, each vying to outdo the other in volume and gusto.

The second verse of the song, which sounds like it could have been written by Alfred Alohikea, is hardly sung at all.  We teach it to our keiki on their Kaua‘i trip because it adds to their understanding of Hanalei, because of its beautiful poetic expressions, and because of its tongue-twisting, rapid-fire third and fourth lines. 

Maika‘i wale nō Kaua‘i

Hemolele wale i ka mālie

Kuahiwi nani Wai‘ale‘ale

Lei ana i ka mokihana

Hanohano wale ‘o Hanalei

I ka ua nui hō‘eha ‘ili

I ka wai o ‘u‘inakolo

I ka poli o Nāmolokama

Maika‘i nō Kaua‘i

Hemolele i ka mālie

Kuahiwi Wai‘ale‘ale

Lei ana i ka mokihana

Listen to a rare, four-verse rendition of "Maika‘i Kaua‘i" performed by Nāmolokama o Hanalei. The two additional verses are for Līhu‘e and Waimea.


'U‘inakolo: to rumble and roar like a waterfall.

Nāmolokama: a mountain peak and waterfall in Hanalei, Kaua‘i. The waterfall feeds Wai‘oli Stream which empties into the middle of Hanalei Bay. The three peaks that form the walls of Hanalei Valley are, from left to right (as viewed from the shore): Hihimanu, Nāmolokama, and Māmalahoa.  The three waters that flow into the bay are: Hanalei River, Wai‘oli Stream, and Waipā Stream.

[The information above has been excerpted from the workbook that each haumāna of HMI takes with her on her third/fourth-grade trip to Kaua‘i. Our text and translation for "Maika‘i Kaua‘i" comes from Elbert and Māhoeʻs Nā Mele o Hawai‘i Nei, 75. ]

Kaua‘i  Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Day 3


So very beautiful is Kaua‘i

So perfect in the calm

Pretty mountain, Wai‘ale‘ale

Wears the mokihana lei

So glorious is Hanalei

With the great rain that pains the skin

And the rustling water

In the heart of Nāmolokama

So beautiful is Kaua‘i

So perfect in the calm

Mount Wai‘ale‘ale

Wears the mokihana lei