Translator’s Note

No‘u Revilla

This mele (chant, song) comes from the moʻolelo (story, history) Lāʻieikawai, which was originally published by S.N. Haleʻole in the Hawaiian-language newspaper Ka Nupepa Kuokoa on March 28, 1863. In the moʻolelo, this mele is chanted by Hinaikamālama, an Aliʻi wahine (female chief) of Haneoʻo on the island of Maui. She is lamenting the departure of her kāne (male lover), Kekalukaluokēwā. After days and days of uninterrupted lovemaking, Kekalukaluokēwā is forced to leave Hinaikamālama.

While taking more creative license than previous translators and editors like Martha Beckwith, Esther Moʻokini, Dennis Kawaharda, and Richard Hamasaki, my translation attempts to register Hinaikamālama’s sudden and overwhelming grief as a stranger in her own body, a grief so foreign to her house as she sits in her doorway and looks out to sea. The use of the word “malihini” is critical to any translation of this mele as the idea of becoming foreign to oneself and to one’s lover in the passage of time is central to the dynamics between Hinaikamālama, Kekalukaluokēwā, and his first wahine, Lāʻielohelohe.


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