Ponokemi

Author: 
Kaleikipio‘ema Brown

 

Kanak children at Poindimie, Province Nord, New Caledonia. The word kanak, obviously related to our own kanaka, is the name by which Native New Caledonians identify themselves. Ponokemi and Poneliwena are Hawaiianizations of the New Caledonian place names Poindimie and Ponerihouen; we decided on these pronunciations and spellings with the aid of Pine Kelley of the Ni‘ihau contingent of the Hawai‘i delegation.
 
Calvin Hoe teaches a Kanak girl to play the ‘ohe hano ihu (nose flute) at Lycee Dokamo, Noumea.

The haku mele offers this explanation of his composition: "'Ponokemi' was written on a bus ride to Ponerihouen in October 2000 at the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts. It was inspired by the Hawai‘i delegation's reception at Poindimie, Province Nord, New Caledonia, where – at the delegation's request – the American flag was lowered and the Hawaiian flag raised in its place to honor our homeland and the unseen who traveled with us. As soon as Ka Hae Hawai‘i went up, a light rain began to fall – a rain that subsequently became torrential, sending one of the other delegations running for cover. We Hawaiians, strengthened by our flag and the sweet, distant voices of our ancestors, stood fast in the rain in respect for the Kanak chiefs and maka‘āinana of Poindimie who stood there, unflinching, with us. The mele is dedicated to my good friend, hoa hele, and fellow loialike Kaha‘i Topolinski."

Hū a‘ela ke aloha i Ponokemi
Kahi a ka hae Hawai‘i e welo ai

‘Oliliko ha‘aheo i ke kilihune
Ho‘opulu i ka ‘ili o ka malihini

Hinihini mai ka leo o ke kāhuli
Leo honehone i ke ano ahiahi

E aha ‘ia ana e ke hoa hele
‘A‘ohe ua pinepine o Kāmoa?

Hea aku mākou ō mai ‘oe
No ke Kanakī nō lā ke aloha.

Love wells up at Poindimie
Where the Hawaiian flag is flying

Glistening proudly in the light rain
That wets the skin of the visitors

Faintly, from a distance, comes the song of the kāhuli
Sweet-voiced in the evening hour

What's going on, O traveling companion
Does it not rain much in Samoa?

We call, please respond
Our love is for the Kanakī of this land.

© Kaleikipio‘ema Brown, 2000