Pā‘ū (Ka) o Hi‘iaka

Author: 
Kīhei de Silva

 

Photo: Kīhei de Silva
"He kuina pā‘ū pali no Kupehau / I holo a pa‘a ‘ia, pa‘a e Honokāne. The skirt, when strung, is as sheer as the cliff of Kupehau; the cord is run through and fastened, made fast by Honokāne." -- Concluding lines from the first paukū of the traditional dressing chant "Kākua Pā‘ū" as offered above by Kalana‘i Godinet in ‘ūniki ceremonies marking her status as an ‘ōlapa, a graduate dancer of her hālau.

This mele commemorates the tying on of a pā‘ū hula at Ka‘auea, Hawai‘i, in April 1993. Inspiration for its composition comes, in part, from “Ka Mo‘olelo o Hi‘iakaikapolioPele,” Nūpepa Ka Na‘i Aupuni, June-July, 1906.

 

Nani nō ho‘i ua wae ‘oe nou iho
I ke ala hele āu e naue aku ai,
Lawe mai ke kahu ‘o Pā‘ūopala‘ā
I kāna ‘ope pā‘ū.
E kala a‘e i nā lino kaula
I nāki‘i ‘ia ua ‘ope nei;
‘O ka‘u pā‘ū e kākua ai
‘O ia kou pu‘ukalahala
E lilo ai i mea ana ‘ole.
‘A‘ohe ‘alae nāna e ke’u
‘A‘ohe kupu‘ino nāna e mākaha.”
Wahi a ka ‘eu o Mauliola.
‘O ka ‘ōkomo ihola nō ia
A ke kahu i ke kaula ‘o Kahihikolo
‘O ko ia ala ho‘okūkū nō ia,
A he kū mai ho‘i kau.

Pau ka ‘ikena i ka palekoki uila;
Pau he‘e nō ia i ka wahine,
Ke mili nei au i nā koena mele
Waiho ‘ia e ka Pu‘ulena
Na wai e lawe mai ke ‘ala o ka maile?
Me he luhiehu o ka wao lipolipo
A ka manu i hone ai a kūnewa
‘E‘ehia nō i ka nani.
Kani ‘ū ihola nō ua manu ala
I ka leo ha‘akōhi o ka hula
Kāka‘a mōlelehu ko ia ala maka
I ka wai a‘o ke kīpuka.
Ua la‘a ia waiko‘olihilihi
I ka ua o Ka‘auea i ka la‘i
I ka pā‘ū e ho‘opili ‘ia nei.
No Kekīpukaohā‘ao ka inoa.

Because you have chosen for yourself
The path you will travel,
The guardian Pā‘ūopala‘ā
Has brought her pā‘ū bundle.
Loosen the braided cords
With which the ‘ope is tied;
The pā‘ū that I will bind about you
Will be the protection
By which you become unfathomable.
There is no ‘alae that will cry out,
No evil-doer who will seize.”
Thus spoke Pele, the lively one of Mauliola.
And then she inserted
The cord named Kahihikolo,
And then she tried on the pā‘ū,
And it fit beautifully.

No more do we see the lightning skirts;
Gone are they to the Woman,
But I linger over the fragments of chants
Left by the Pu‘ulena wind.
Who is it that brings the fragrance of maile here?
It is like an adornment of the deep forest
That a bird inhales until he staggers
Overcome by the beauty.
He sighs
Over the drawn-out voices of hula,
And his eyes roll drowsily, drunkenly
Toward the water of the kīpuka.
These eyelash-propped waters are consecrated
By the rain of Ka‘auea in the calm
By the pā‘ū that is being fastened on.
For Kekīpukaohā‘ao is this name song

 
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Kīhei de Silva, 1995. “Pā‘ū o Hi‘iaka” was first published in Rongorongo Studies: A Forum for Polynesian Philology, Auckland: The Institute for Polynesian Languages and Literatures, Winter 1995.