Hawai‘i Kuauli

Author: 
J.R. Kaha‘i Topolinski

 

 

Photos: Kīhei de Silva

“He ‘ikena lihi ana iho lā ē / I ka lei pili pa‘a mamo a Waipi‘o.” A glimmer of Waipi‘o Valley in the distance as seen from the Alakahi Lookout, Kohala, Hawai‘i Kuauli.

Hawai‘i Kuauli, “Dark-backed Hawai‘i,” is a beloved but now infrequently used epithet for what too many of us lazily call the Big Island. The epithet is thought to derive from the appearance of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa as they rise on the distant horizon when seen from the deck of a voyaging canoe; it is employed here in Kaha‘i Topolinski’s “Hawai‘i Kuauli” as a metaphor of the steadfast friendship and loyalty that he shares with a fellow descendant of the ali‘i of his Kohala, Hawai‘i, homeland.

‘Auhea wale ana ‘oe
E pili ko‘olua no nā kau a kau
Ku‘u aikāne ha‘iha‘i leo ‘ala
I ka welelau o ka milo
‘O ka nehe ka‘u i lohe ai
Kapalili i ka welelau lima
I lawe ‘ia e nā lima i ‘ane‘i
E ka makani hele Pili‘ā
A loa‘a mai ho‘i au lā ē
I ka hau anu o Lilinoe
He ‘ikena lihi ‘ana iho lā ē
I ka lei pili pa‘a mamo a Waipi‘o
He mana‘o pa‘a loa nō ko‘u
No ka pua mākolukolu i ka la‘i
E kau maila i ke kilohana
Kahi wai ‘ala o Waimea
Maika‘i ka wēlau o ka lā‘au ‘ala
Ke māpu nei ke ‘ala o ka maile
"‘Elua no wahine mahana ai,
E ke ali‘i lālā kū i ka hale.
O ka lua o ke ahi o ka lua kapa
O ka lua poli o ka aikane e mehana."*
E kilohi ho‘i au i ka hale lau o ke koa
I ka papa ‘āina ali‘i o Kohala Nui
Maika‘i wale nō ‘o Hawai‘i Kuauli i ka‘u ‘ike.

Respond, O loyal, true friend
O constant companion for all seasons
My friend with whom I freely converse
At the edge of the milo grove
I hear a rustling sound
A flittering of the finger tips
It was here by the hands
Of the Pili‘ā wind
Indeed it has found me here
In the dew laden mist of Lilinoe
I caught a glimpse
Of that firm mamo adornment of Waipi‘o
Firmly set without question is my mind
On the adornment laden in the calm
High above the summit
Is this fragrance of Waimea
Splendid from top to bottom is the fragrance of the grove
As the fragrance of the maile is carried in the breeze
There are two things which are as warm as a woman
Where the chief can warm himself in the house
One of the two is fire and clothing
The other is the bosom of a true friend
I gaze upon the shelter of koa leaves
Of the chiefly land of great Kohala
And I say, how splendid is Hawai‘i held in my vision.

© J.R. Kaha‘i Topolinski, 2003

*Mary Kawena Pukui.