Mānoa Wai Kamaha‘o

Author: 
Kainani Kahaunaele

 

Photo: Kīhei de Silva
 
‘A‘ali‘i kū makani, the ‘a‘ali‘i that stands in the wind. Residents of Ka‘ū, Hawai‘i, were fond of boasting: “He ‘a‘ali‘i au, ‘a‘ohe makani e hina ai – I am an ‘a‘ali‘i shrub, no wind can push me over.” The presence of this Moku o Keawe proverb in a mele whose focus is Mānoa Valley in the ‘ahupua‘a of Hā‘ena, Kaua‘i, is neither mistake nor accident. “Mānoa Wai Kamaha‘o” was composed on a visit to Kaua’i with Manu Boyd’s Hālau o ke ‘A‘ali’i Kū Makani.

The ahupua‘a of Hā‘ena, Kaua‘i, is nestled in the Nā Pali cliffs between the valleys of Wainiha and Hanakapī‘ai. Cliff-lined Hā‘ena consists of two valleys: Mānoa to the east, and Limahuli to the west. Mānoa is the shallower of the two and is fronted by the reef and lagoon of Makua; the considerably deeper Limahuli is fronted, in turn, by the reef and lagoon of Kē‘ē. Mānoa is easily identified by the twin formations that jut, almost incongruously, from its ridgeline: these are called Nā Piliwale after a pair of voracious kupua sisters who were turned to stone while fleeing the rays of the morning sun. “Mānoa Wai Kamaha‘o” was composed on a hālau visit to Kaua‘i’s north shore; although its haku mele claims to have never before experienced the beauty of Mānoa (“‘Akahi au a ‘ike i kou nani”), Kainani Kahaunaele is unmistakably familiar with the song-writing traditions and vocabulary of Kaua‘i, her ‘āina hānau. Notice, for example, her reference to the ua loku rains of Hanalei and her careful use of the word naue (“to move”), a word that creates a geographical bridge between Hanalei and Mānoa (the plain of Naue lies between the two), that echoes Lizzie ‘Alohikea’s “Nani Kaua‘i,” and that demonstrates her sensitivity to the negative poetic connotations of the more common and predictable hele.

‘Akahi au a ‘ike i kou nani lā
‘O Mānoa wai kamaha‘o lā

Kau pono mai ka ‘ohu i ka wēkiu lā
Kahe mai kahi wailele a‘o Mānoa

Naue aku, naue mai i Halele‘a
Le‘ale‘a i ka loku a ka ua i Hanalei lā

Lei ana i ke ‘a‘ali‘ikūmakani lā
Hina ‘ole i ka hae a ka makani lā

‘O ke kani a nā manu i kahakai lā
E heahea mai ana e naue aku lā

Kū mai Mānoa me he ipo ala
I ka ho‘ohihi a ku‘u maka

Puana ka inoa ua lohe ‘ia
‘O Mānoa wai kamaha‘o lā

Never have I seen such beauty
Mānoa, of splendid waters

As the mist nestles right upon its peak
Its waterfall flows forth

Traveling about Halele‘a
Having a blast in Hanalei's drenching rain

Wearing the ‘a‘ali‘ikūmakani lei
Untoppable in the fiercest of winds

As the birds chirp along the beach
One in particular invites me to go

Mānoa appears as a lover
As my eyes fondly take a fancy

Let its name be heard
Mānoa, of splendid waters

 

© Kainani Kahaunaele, 2000