‘Ula Nōweo


There are many versions of this mele. According to Mary Kawena Pukui, the earliest version was a vowel chant used by the people of Kaua‘i when they learned the English alphabet in the 1820s and 1830s. Their version ended with "Eia he a" (here is an a), "Eia he e" (here is an e), "Eia he i" (here is an i), "Eia he o" (here is an o), and "Eia he u" (here is a u). Later, the chant was revised and made into a mele inoa (a name chant) for Kapi‘olani, the granddaughter of Kaumūali‘i, the last of Kaua‘i's ruling chiefs. Our version might be one of the most recent. Some time after the deaths of Prince Albert Edward and Alexander Liholioho, the chant was changed into a mele inoa for their mother and wife: Queen Emma Kaleleonālani.


‘Ula nōweo lae

Lā e ka lei lae

Ka pua ‘ilima lae

Ua ‘ike wale ‘oe lae

I ka ua loku lae

A‘o Hanalei lae

A ka lae a‘o Nohili lae

Kahua wailana lae

O ka ‘awapuhi lae

Ua lipo wale ‘oe lae

A‘o ka nahele lae

A‘o Ho‘ohie lae

Ha‘ina mai ka puana lae

Lā he inoa lae

Kaleleonālani lae.

Listen to Lōkālia Montgomery chant "‘Ula Nōweo." Lōkālia was Aunty Maiki's kumu hula. And Aunty Maiki was ‘Anakē Māpu's kumu hula.

Glowing red

Is the lei

Of ‘ilima flowers

You have known

The heavy rains

Of Hanalei

At the cope of Nohili

Is the tranquil-water site

Of wild ginger   

So deep and dark are you

The forest

Of Ho‘ohie

Tell the summary of the song

A name chant honoring



The first verse of the chant is often transcribed and translated as "‘Ula noweo la / La e ka lae la / Ka pua ‘ilima la e" --The brilliant glow of the sun / Shines on the point / (Shines on) the ‘ilima blossoms."  A particularly garbled version can be found at Huapala.org.

Several versions of the chant identify its subject as Kamoha'i -- not Kaleleonālani:  "Ha‘ina mai ka puana la / La he inoa la / No Kamoha‘i." Some sources identify this Kamoha‘i as a Kaua‘i chief; others argue that Kamoha‘i is one of Queen Emma's names.

[Most of 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 "Ula Nōweo" comes from Mary Kawena Pukui.]

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