Makalapua (The Opening Flower) - Traditional


ʻO makalapua ulu māhiehie
ʻO ka lei o Kamakaʻeha
No Kamaka`eha ka lei nā Liʻa wāhine
Nā wāhine kīhene pua
E lei hoʻi, e Liliʻulani e
E lei hoʻi, e Liliʻulani e
Haʻihaʻi pua kamani (pauku) pua ki
I lei (hoʻowehi) wehi no ka wahine
E walea ai ka wao kele
I ka liko io Maunahele
Lei Kaʻala i ka ua o ka naulu
Hoʻoluʻe iho la i lalo o Haleʻauʻau
Ka ua lei koko ʻula i ke pili
I pilia ka mauʻu nene me ke kupukupu
Lei aku la i ka hala o Kekele
Na hala moe ipo o Malailua
Ua maewa wale i ke oho o ke kawelu
Nā lei Kamakahala o ka ua Waʻahila
The sweetest and most fragrant flowers of the garden
For the lei of Kamakaʻeha
The goddesses of the forest weave a lei for Kamakaʻeha
The ladies with baskets of flowers
Here is your lei, o Liliʻulani
Here is your lei. o Liliʻulani
Kamani leaves entwined with ti flowers
A lei to beautify the fair Liliʻu
One who loves the beauteous and fragrant uplands
Where bud the flowers at Maunahele
Kaʻala wears a lei of rain and showers
Pouring down on Haleʻauʻau
Rainbow mist that is a lei on pili grass
Where nene grass grows close to kupukupu ferns
Wearing a lei of hala fruit of Kekele
Hala of Malailua that lovers dream of
Swaying freely amid kawelu grasses
Kamakahala flower leis of Waʻahila rain

Source: Translated by Henry Kaalakahi Verse 3/4 translated by Teruhisa Muraura. The music was adapted from the hymn "Would I Were With Thee". The Harbottle family claims the Queen set the words to music during her month's stay at Boston in 1897, but others credit the adaptation to Eliza Holt. There is also a discrepancy as to the origin of the chant. Liliuʻokalani attributes the words to Konia, her foster mother and natural mother of Bernice Pauahi Bishop and some credit David Nape with both the words and music. The Harbottle family claims the words were composed by Naha Harbottle Hakuole, Mary Adams Lucas and Mrs. Auld as a hoʻokupu for the Queen composed on the night before her birthday, but does not mention which birthday or what year.
Hawaiian Gazette newspaper article, June 26 1894, Pg 7, lists Makalapua, as sung by Caroline Kapohakimohewa at Maui’s Maunaolu Seminary, on the program. The Evening Bulletin, July 9, 1897, advertises a concert by and for the benefit of the National Band (Royal Hawaiian Band) at Kaumakapili Church on July 10, 1897. Makalapua, by the Chorus is on the program and must have been shared with the band soon after the Queen returned to Hawaiʻi from her trip. If this is the same Makalapua, then some version of words and music were already in existence prior to 1897. This song incorporates both names of the Queen, Liliʻu (smarting) and Kamakaʻeha (sore eyes) a name given to her at birth by Kinaʻu, her grand aunt who was suffering from sore eyes at that time. It was a Hawaiian custom to name a child for an important event at the time of their birth. Maunahele was the name of the gardens in the shadow of the pali on the windward side.These gardens were sacred to Lia, the mountain goddess of flowers. The Kamani tree (calaphyllum inophyllum) native of Hawaii has edible nuts and fragrant flowers. The ti or ki (cordyline ternminalis) an indigenious plant has leaves that are used for cooking, thatching houses and making hula skirts. The fibrous roots when cooked make a sweet candy and when fermented, produce an intoxicating beverage.

Newspaper articles and comments contributed by Charles Holt

July 9, 1897 Evening Bulletin, The
National Band (Royal Hawaiian Band) played “Makalapua” at Kaumakapili Church

June 26 1894, Hawaiian Gazette, Page 7, “Makalapua” was sung at Maui’s Maunaolu Seminary by Caroline Kapohakimohewa.