Kaua (Ke) Koa

Author: 
Kekoa Wong

 

 
Photos: Kīhei de Silva
Kekoa Wong with his kumu hula Kaha‘i Topolinski (top) and in a main stage performance (above) at the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts, Noumea, New Caledonia, November 2000.

This mele was composed by Kekoa Wong as a hula pahu for the "fierce warriors of the islands and their descendants who, today, still gird themselves in the puali" -- in malo whose flaps are tied up at the waist so that no part of it can easily be seized by the enemy. Kaha‘i Topolinski -- Kekoa’s kumu hula, mentor, and friend -- has described his student’s compositional style as "like something you find in Malo and Kamakau" -- hard, terse, unmarked, unversified, and unrelenting.

Auhea wale ka pua lehua
Ke koa huahua o Kohalanui
Ke aina kapu o ka ahulani
Hoea ka makalau o Kakuhihewa
Ka ai kipuupuu o ka ihe
E lawe leimano o ka puali
Huhuhulei ka makani apaapaa
Haa i ke kaua, ha, ha
Pahu i ka ihe, he, he
Ka i ka ai, hu, hu,
Lehei i ka moa, ha, ha
He niuhi o ka honua
Maihiihi hae i ka ili
Ai kailiili o ke koa
Ka ai papa o ke lei
Ke lei Mahi, ke lei kiekie
O I ka ai hulu manu
Ka ulua wawahi i ka moana
Huli i ke hau, hu, hu
Lele i ka lani, hi, hi
Kahoa i ka hoa, ha, ha
Hahau ka hihimanu o ke kuku
Ai ku pale aina o ka moku
Ka pukaua koa o ka haka
Ka lei wehi o Hawaiinuikuauli

Where is the lehua blossom
The prolific warrior of great Kohala
Where the sacred garb rules the land
Arise the swirling spears of Kakuhihewa
The Kipuupuu ravages like the spear
As the warrior reveals the leimano
As the Apaapaa tosses about
Readied in stance
Thrusts the spear
Strikes the hold
Leaps the warrior
The niuhi shark of the land
Who rips and tears off the skin
The warrior's hold consumes
The forbidden hold belongs to the wreath
Adorned by the Mahi, upon the mantle
Where I is the one who takes voraciously
The thrashing ulua fish of the ocean
Who turns and strikes
Who leaps upward
To break and strike
The barbed ray who thrashes
He who devours the land
The fierce warrior of the feathered crest
The ardent wreath of great Hawaiinuikuauli

 

© Kekoa Wong, 2004