University of Hawaii at Manoa LibraryLibrary CatalogResearch ToolsAsk Us Skip to main content

Fresh Water in Hawaiʻi: He Mele o Kāne

A selected annotated bibliography by Shavonn Matsuda

The Water of Kāne

Fresh water in pre-contact Hawaiʻi was considered the domain and kinou lau, or body form, of the god Kāne. Below is the chant "He Mele o Kane." The Hawaiian text comes first follwed by Emrsons translation. The Hawaiian text was recorded before the standardized orthagraphy.

The original can be found in Nathaniel B. Emerson's Unwritten Literature of Hawaii and the entire text may be found online at Sacred-Texts.com: http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/ulh/ulh45.htm

He Mele no Kane

He ú-i, he ninau:
E ú-i aku ana au ia oe,
ila i-he’a ka wai a Kane?
Aia i ka hikina a ka La,
Puka i Hae-hae; 
Aia i-laila ka Wai a Kane.

E ú-i aku ana au ia oe,
Aia i-hea ka Wai a Kane?
Aia i Kau-lana-ka-la, 
I ka pae opua i ke kai, 
Ea mai ana ma Nihoa, 

Ma ka mole mai o Lehua;
Aia i-laila ka Wai a Kane.

E ú-i aku ana au ia oe,
Aia i-hea ka Wai a Kane?
Aia i ke kua-hiwi, i ke kua-lono,
I ke awáwa, i ke kaha-wai;
Aia i-laila ka Wai a Kane.

E ú-i aku ana au ia oe,
Aia i-hea ka Wai a Kane?
Aia i-kai, i ka moana,
I ke Kua-lau, i ke anuenue,
I ka punohu,i ka ua-koko, 
I ka alewa-lewa:
Aia i-laila ka Wai a Kane.

E ú-i aku ana au ia oe,
Aia i-hea ka Wai a Kane?
Aia i-luna ka Wai a Kane,
I ke ouli, i ke ao eleele,
I ke ao pano-pano,
I ke ao popolo-hua mea a Kane la, e!
Aia i-laila ka Wai a Kane.

E ú-i aku ana au ia oe.
Aia i-hea ka Wai a Kane?
Aia i-lalo, i ka honua, i ka Wai hu,
I ka wai kau a Kane me Kanaloa-- 
He wai-puna, he wai e inu,
He wai e mana, he wai e ola.
E ola no, e-a!

[Translation]

The Water of Kane

A query, a question,
I put to you:
Where is the water of Kane?
At the Eastern Gate
Where the Sun comes in at Haehae;
There is the water of Kane.

A question I ask of you:
Where is the water of Kane?
Out there with the floating Sun,

Where cloud-forms rest on Ocean's breast.
Uplifting their forms at Nihoa,
This side the base of Lehua;
There is the water of Kane.

One question I put to you:
Where is the water of Kane?
Yonder on mountain peak,
On the ridges steep,
In the valleys deep,
Where the rivers sweep;
There is the water of Kane.

This question I ask of you:
Where, pray, is the water of Kane?
Yonder, at sea, on the ocean,
In the driving rain,
In the heavenly bow,
In the piled-up mist-wraith,
In the blood-red rainfall,
In the ghost-pale cloud-form;
There is the water of Kane.

One question I put to you:
Where, where is the water of Kane?
Up on high is the water of Kane,
In the heavenly blue,
In the black piled cloud,
In the black-black cloud.
In the black-mottled sacred cloud of the gods;
There is the water of Kane.

One question I ask of you:
Where flows the water of Kane?
Deep in the ground. in the gushing spring,
In the ducts of Kane and Loa,
A well-spring of water, to quaff,
A water of magic power--
The water of life!
Life! O give us this life!

 

mahalo!