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Last month we celebrated the first birthday of the daughter of one our dear friends on Maui, Anuhea. The first birthday is a cause for celebration in traditional Hawai‘ian culture, accompanied by an ‘aha‘aina palala which has evolved into the modern day “baby lu‘au“. Part of the palala includes gifts (pule), chants (mele) and dances (hula) by friends and family to express their aloha for the child (see The Polynesian Family System in Ka ‘u, Hawai‘i by ES Craighill Handy & Mary Kawena Pukui).
As our pule to Anuhea, my wife and I composed the following “name chant”, or mele inoa. It was modeled from the mele inoa written for Barack Obama, “Hiki Maila Ke Ali‘i Ho‘oulu” by (Kumu Hula) Manu Ikaika. The child’s first name, Anuhea, means cool, gentle rain, so part of our mele refers to her as the gentle rain that nourishes our hearts and outlasts even the strongest storms. Her second name, Po‘maika‘i, means wisdom, good fortune and prosperity, which we of course wish for her in her life ahead.
If anyone could help translate this completely (and properly!) into Hawai‘ian, we’d be very grateful!
Kaikamahine o Maui (Daughter of Maui)
Look at our daughter, gentle and soothing
A child who brings joy to all around her
A gentle rain that nourishes the land
And helps the seed of love spread in our hearts
Her voice is a sweet melody that lifts the spirit
Her strength is her gentle way
Oh child of the land
Allow the goodness in your heart to flourish
Take courage even as the tempests come
Knowing they too return to the gentle rain
May you grow to be a wise, joyful and creative woman
Infused with the love of your ‘ohana
E ola mai
Ka pono o ke ao
E aloha e
He inoa no Anuhea Po‘maika‘i Fortune
I’m currently reading “The Polynesian Family System in Ka’u, Hawai’i” by ES Craighill Handy and Mary Kawena Pukui. Kawena (her full name is Mary Abigail Kawenaʻulaokalaniahiʻiakaikapoliopelekawahineʻaihonua Wiggin Pukui) was a very notable and respected author on Hawaiian culture, having written over 50 scholarly works including “the” Hawaiian-English dictionary and “‘Olelo No’eau“, a collection of 3000 Hawaiian proverbs. If you have any interest in Hawaiian culture or history, pick up anything and everything written by Kawena.