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‘O Poneliwena Kamaha‘o

Kahikina de Silva

Kahikina de Silva offers the following explanation of "‘O Poneliwena Kamaha‘o," a song inspired by her participation in the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts held in October–November 2000, in the Kanak nation of New Caledonia. "After a week and a half of traveling across the Pacific and settling into Noumea, our Hawai‘i delegation journeyed one more day to Province Nord and discovered that we were home. In the instant that our flag was raised in Poindimie, our spirits were renewed, as was our sense of purpose in representing and honoring our people. And as our feet first touched the crushed coral of Ponerihouen’s dance field, the length of our journey became both irrelevant and insignificant when compared to the depth of the aloha and experiences we were given. Through the planting of pine trees, the sharing of hula and pilou, and the kind of conversation that makes friends out of strangers, ancestors who had long been separated by time and ocean were again reunited through us, their descendants. The kukui, a Hawaiian symbol of enlightenment and warmth, certainly glows brightly there in Ponerihouen."


Kaulana kou inoa a‘o Poneliwena
‘Āina kamaha‘o i ka‘u ‘ike

Mea ‘ole e ka loa o ke alahele
I ka leo nahenahe o nā malihini

Ke kalahele a‘ela a puni ka moku
I lohe ai kānaka – Eia Hawai‘i

Eia i ka lele o nā kapua‘i
I ke ko‘a mokumoku, ‘ume i ka hilu

‘O ke koloau nō ia o ka mo‘o paina
A pili me ke ēwe o ke kanaka

‘Akahi a launa me ko Nū Kini
Ma ka pilou i ka ua e kama‘āina

Huli ho‘i i ka malu o Ponokemi
Me ke ani pe‘ahi o nā oho ‘ōiwi

Ho‘ohihi ka mana‘o iā Poneliwena
E noho ana au a lama ke kukui

Celebrated is your name, Ponerihouen
You are a truly wondrous land to me

The journey’s length is nothing
When eased by the sweet voices of guests

These are the voices that delightfully encompass the island
That all its people will hear – "Here is Hawai‘i"*

Here we are, with light footsteps
Over the hilu**-attracting coral

The succession of pines stretches forward
To join with the ēwe*** of the kanaka

Though it is our first meeting with those of New Guinea
With our shared pilou in the rain, we soon become friends

We return to the shelter of Poindimie
Accompanied by the waving of native "ferns"

My thoughts are still entranced by Ponerihouen
And I will stay until the kukui glow


© Kahikina de Silva, 2001


* Eia Hawai‘i – Here is Hawai‘i. This is the title of the chant with which we introduced ourselves at the Poindimie and Ponerihouen welcoming ceremonies. The chant begins: "Eia Hawai‘i he moku he kanaka – Here is Hawai‘i, an island, a man."

** Hilu – a Hawaiian reef fish admired by our people for its elegant appearance and polite behavior. Hawaiians admonished their children to imitate the hilu, and the word hilu was used to praise those children who displayed hilu-like qualities.

*** Ēwe – afterbirth. Hawaiians buried their children’s ēwe and planted a young tree over each. The growing tree thus symbolized the growing child. Hawaiians also use the word ēwe in reference to ancestry. The ēwe of people with a common ancestor are said to "creep" to each other. Thus Kanak and Kanaka, pine tree and ēwe, find our common ancestry in the tree-planting at Ponerihouen.

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photo credit: Kīhei de Silva

Aolani Richardson and Ka‘olu Luning are among the Hawaiians at Poindimie who accept an invitation to join in a simplified version of the pilou, the national dance of the Kanak people.

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