Mekila e nā ‘Iwa e Kaka‘i ana

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



Haku Mele:  Robert Lokomaika‘iokalani Snakenberg, January 1984.

Text and Translation:  Lokomaika‘i Snakenberg.





Lokomaika‘i Snakenberg – friend, first Hawaiian language teacher, and namer of our hālau – composed this mele hula ho‘i for us in 1984 to use in that year’s Merrie Monarch Festival. His mele describes the gathering of ‘iwa at the Kalāheo School end of Kawainui pond, their drinking of water there, and their return “to the sea at full tide.” It is abundantly clear to us that the mele was written after careful study of the imagery, movement pattern, and meaning of the traditional “Ho‘opuka e ka Lā ma ka Hikina,” and “Ho‘i ē, Ho‘i lā.” 


The arrival of his ‘iwa, like those in “Ho‘opuka,” captivates our attention and wraps us in wonder; their association with life-sustaining Kawainui echoes the “let there be life for all” sentiments of “Ho‘opuka,” and their return to the sea by way of Mahinui’s updrafts echoes the return, in “Ho‘i ē,” of the beloved mists to their upland home. Both traditional compositions emphasize bird and mist as messengers of a higher love whose presence serves to lift us out of our petty lives and inspire us to dwell always “where love sprouts and grows.” “Mekila e nā ‘Iwa” concludes with a similar emphasis: the ‘iwa of Kawainui are not caught up in lesser emotions; they are one at Waialoha. The mele’s kaona, as Loko explained it to us, rests in these last two lines: don’t dance to compete, dance for love.


Mekila e nā ‘Iwa


Mekila [1] e nā ‘iwa e kaka‘i ana       

I ka māpumāpu iho i ka ‘iliwai [2]       

I Kawainui makahehi i ka i‘a      

A huli a‘e e kīkaha i ka holouka      

I luna a‘e ho‘i o ka Mahinui        

E hoho‘i aku ana i ke kai ulu.       

He ‘iwa ‘ole na‘e ho‘ohae nāulu,       

Ho‘okahi nō kaunu pū i Waialoha.[3]   


Handsome are the ‘iwa flying in formation

Swooping down to the water’s surface

At Kawainui which is so attractive to fish

They turn upward and soar on the updrafts

Up above Mahinui Ridge

Returning back to the sea at full tide.

These are not lovely ones stirring up envy,

For there is only love at Waialoha.


“Na Robert Lokomaika‘i Snakenberg i haku kēia mele me ke aloha nui a pumehana no Māpuana lāua ‘o Kīhei de Silva me nā ‘iwa kīkaha o ka Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima i kēia lā 4 o Ianuali, 1984.”





Notes


1. Kawena Pukui defines mekila as "handsome" and provides, by way of example, a line from a mele for Lili‘uokalani that describes a handsome procession of misty rain: “Mekila ke ka‘i a ka ua noe” (Dictionary, 246).  Mekila also suggests mōkila (“lei needle”) an epithet in Samuel Keko‘owai’s Mākālei legend for the magic, fish-attracting branch of Kawainui.


2. In the early morning and late afternoon, the ‘iwa flocks of Kailua (who nest on the Mōkapu peninsula) actually do circle in funnel-like formation over the open water at the Kalāheo School end of Kawainui. They swoop, drink, re-form, and depart on the updrafts of nearby Mahinui Ridge (the hillside between Kailua and Kāne‘ohe Bay).


3. “Ho‘okahi nō kaunu pū i Waialoha” is a slight variation of Pukui’s ‘Ōlelo No‘eau #1075: “Ho‘okahi nō kaunu like ana i Waialoha. Together there will be friendliness at Waialoha.  The enjoyment of friendliness by all….”





© Kīhei de Silva 2008.  All rights reserved.
This essay was published in Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima's 2012 Merrie Monarch Fact Sheet. 

It is offered here in slightly revised and updated form.