Pictures of Hawaii Community College
Lei o Hilo Ka Ua Pē i ka Uahi

The Lei of Hilo is the Rain Scented with Smoke


Haʻehaʻe kuʻu hiʻikua
Puʻuohau kuʻu hiʻialo
A pō maila ia ao ē, pai a ka hulu kōnane


Kiʻina ʻŪpolu e ka ʻākau
Hēkau ē ka hema iā Kalae
Lele kawa me he lele wai pipiʻo lua Hiʻilawe


Na ka hau o Maunakea kuʻu niʻo
Na ke ahi o Maunaloa kuʻu mole
Hualalai muli kuahiwi ē ʻiewe nei
Ka moana nui pāmamao o ka moku


Inā kāua nauane, nauane
Ke ala e ʻimia nei i ka pono e kau ala

Inā hoʻi kāua nauane, nauane
A pāpahi i ka hāliko ʻapapane lei lehua


Lei o Hilo ka ua pē i ka uahi

He ola, he ola, he Hāloa iwihilo ē,

I bear the sun of Haʻehaʻe on my back
I caress the sun of Puʻuohau at my chest
And when night alights, it is the feathery
     glow of moonlight that sustains me entirely!

My right hand reaches for ʻŪpolu
My left hand anchored at Kālae
Jumping in feet first like the water fall,
     Hiʻilawe in profound arch

The snow of Maunakea sets my zenith
The fire of Maunaloa establishes my nadir

Hualalai conceiving in the womb the journeys
     upon further shores

Let’s make a move and make a stir
For the path seeking profound experiences
     avails itself
Let’s indeed make our move
Until we are worthy of wearing the lei of scarlet
     lehua

The lei of Hilo is that of rain drenched in
     volcanic promise
A life, a life this is, a life breathing right through
     to the core!

Composed by Dr. Taupōuri Tangarō, September 2006

This mele places the learner within the cardinal center of potential using Hawaiʻi Island’s sacred geography as a metaphor. In the Hawaiian language, the right hand is called ʻākau, which also means north; the left hand is termed hema, which is the south. Stepping into this orientation then positions the rising sun at the back of the person and the setting sun at the front, or face of the person. Maunakea is the head, and as Maunakea is sacred so is the head of the native person. Maunaloa is the womb from which all magma rises from the core of the earth; hence Maunaloa is the primal base, as Maunakea is the celestial reach. Hualalai muli kuahiwi (Hualalai is the youngest of mountains) speaks to profound germination. Lei o Hilo ka ua pē i ka uahi (Hilo’s lei is that of rain scented with smoke) speaks to the crux of our life founded on water and fire!