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Kaulana Nā Pua, Famous Are The Flowers

Jun 10, 2017 | Stories

Kaulana Nā Pua is a Hawaiian patriotic song performed in the Hawaiian language, written by Eleanor Kekoaohiwaikalani Wright Prendergast (April 12, 1865 – December 5, 1902). Kaulana Nā Pua literally translates as “Famous are the Flowers (as Children).” An original title of the song was “He Lei No Ka Po’e Aloha ‘Aina” (a symbol of affection for the people who love their land). It is also known as “Mele ‘Ai Pōhaku” (Stone-eating Song) and “Mele Aloha ‘Aina” (Patriot’s Song).

Today we know the popular Kaulana Nā Pua song for it’s uplifting and lively melody; various renditions from many Hawaiian music artists, accompanied by graceful hula dancers adorned with beautiful foliage and flower lei. For those not aware, not familiar, or don’t speak ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) it may come as a surprise on the historical significance and story behind the translated lyrics.

According to Samuel Elbert and Noelani Mahoe, coauthor’s of Nā Mele O Hawaii Nei: 101 Hawaiian Songs the song was originally composed as a himeni (hymn), an anthem, a chanting, sacred song not used for or meant for dancing hula. Four famous chiefs are mentioned as symbols of their lands: Keawe of Hawai’i, Pi’i-lani of the bays with names beginning Hono- on Maui, Mano of Kauai, and Kakuhihewa of Oahu.

At the takeover of the Hawaiian Kingdom, shortly after Queen Lili’uokalani was deposed in January 1893, the overthrowing illegal provisional government issued a mandate, to sign a loyalty oath; majority of native Kanaka Maoli resisted the order, including members of the Royal Hawaiian Band. The protesting bandsmen persuaded Eleanor Prendergast, a close friend of Queen Lili’uokalani, to capture and express their deep anguish and profound antipathy to U.S. annexation in song; which would explain the original titles of the song. Eleanor composed the song while sitting in the garden of her father’s home in Kapālama.

We will not follow this new government, they asserted. We will be loyal to Lili`u. We will not sign the haole’s paper, but will be satisfied with all that is left to us, the stones, the mystic food of our native land. So they begged her to compose this song of rebellion, Mele `Ai Pohaku (Stone-eating Song), called also Mele Aloha Aina (Patriot’s Song).

Royal Hawaiian Band Members

Kaulana Nā Pua – Written January 1893, published 1895, Eleanor Kekoaohiwaikalani Wright Prendergast.

Kaulana nā pua aʻo Hawaiʻi
Kūpaʻa mahope o ka ʻāina
Hiki mai ka ʻelele o ka loko ʻino
Palapala ʻānunu me ka pākaha

Pane mai Hawaiʻi moku o Keawe
Kōkua nā Hono aʻo Piʻilani
Kākoʻo mai Kauaʻi o Mano
Paʻapū me ke one Kākuhihewa

ʻAʻole aʻe kau i ka pūlima
Maluna o ka pepa o ka ʻenemi
Hoʻohui ʻāina kūʻai hewa
I ka pono sivila aʻo ke kanaka

ʻAʻole mākou aʻe minamina
I ka puʻukālā a ke aupuni
Ua lawa mākou i ka pōhaku
I ka ʻai kamahaʻo o ka ʻāina

Mahope mākou o Liliʻulani
A loaʻa e ka pono o ka ʻāina
[alternate stanza: A kau hou ʻia e ke kalaunu] Haʻina ʻia mai ana ka puana
Ka poʻe i aloha i ka ʻāina

Famous are the children of Hawaiʻi
Ever loyal to the land
When the evil-hearted messenger comes
With his greedy document of extortion

Hawaiʻi, land of Keawe answers
The bays of Piʻilani help
Kauaʻi of Mano lends support
All are united by the sands of Kākuhihewa

Do not fix a signature
To the paper of the enemy
With its sin of annexation
And sale of the civil rights of the people

We do not value
The government’s hills of money
We are satisfied with the rocks
The wondrous food of the land

We support Liliʻuokalani
Who has won the rights of the land
[alternate stanza: She will be crowned again] The story is told
Of the people who love the land