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Pali o ka Moa

Mrs. Elena Naipo, me ‘elua paukū hou na J.R. Kaha‘i Topolinski

"Pali o ka Moa," more commonly known as "Paliakamoa," was composed in the late 1890s by Mrs. Elena Naipo, wife of Robert Naipo of Kaname‘e, Honoipu, North Kohala, for her sister-in-law Kapeka Kamahoahoa. Kaha‘i Topolinski explains that he met with his Aunty Puluelo Naipo Park, the granddaughter of the song’s composer, in February 2000: "to share and discuss the kuauhau of our Merseburgh ohana. She descends from Henry Merseburgh, and I descend from his younger sister Mrs. Katie Merseburgh Kekahio. Later, we discussed her family mele—Paliokamoa. I asked permission to add two more verses to it, and she approved. So finally it is coming out."

Topolinski further notes that his Aunt Elena’s song has several versions including one given to him by Mrs. Park and another given by his Uncle Kindy Halema‘uma‘u Sproat. Included with the latter version was a detailed explanation of the song’s background, most of which is not our place to share. The following excerpts, however, add to our understanding of the mele’s imagery without invading its kaona:

Puakea. The ahupua‘a where the place-names in the song are located.

Kehoni. A hill in Puakea ahupua‘a from which one can view the surrounding area. From this vantage point they would scan the horizon watching for the billowy sails of ships coming from far-off lands.

Paliakamoa (cliff of the rooster). Name given for the stevedore operation of loading and unloading of sugar and freight by steel cable from ship to shore. The name "Paliakamoa" was given because work started in the morning when the rooster crowed. Paliakamoa is not a [traditional] place name, it is a given name. In Kohala we do have an ancient site called "Paliakamoa" located at Iole.

Hao kila – steel cables. All freight and even passengers coming or going descended by tram on steel cables suspended from Paliakamoa (top of cliff) 92 feet above the ocean to the deck of the ship below. The trade winds blowing across the peninsula of North Kohala and out to sea held the ship off shore and kept the cables tight.

[Alohea.] I have questioned many old timers about the word "alohea" and in most cases it was used with such sacred works as "la‘au kahea." It is more of a feeling, a call for help within one’s heart and soul, seeking help from the supreme power.

Topolinski submitted this mele to Kaleinamanu in hopes that it would give our readers "the knowledge that sometimes new verses were added to an existing mele or song with the approval of the composer or the composer’s family. In this case, Puluelo Naipo Park, whose grandmother composed it, gave me approval to compose two added verses. I have endeavored to stay within the compositional style of the original text."

Pali o ka Moa

A ka luna mākou a‘o Kehoni
‘Ike ‘ia i ka nani a‘o Puakea
Kau aku ka mana‘o no Honoipu
Ka uwea hao kila holu i ka ‘ae kai

Lae kaulana ‘o ‘Ūpolu i ka mālie
Ke hō‘ailona a ke Kaleponi
‘O ke kūkilakila mai ‘o Paliokamoa
Ka nene‘e mālie i ka ‘ae kai

He aloha ia home a‘e Kaname‘e
Ia home ho‘okipa me ke aloha
I laila mākou i walea ai
Me nā hoa alohea o ka ‘īnea

Kaulana ‘o Kohala ka‘u aloha
Me he wai hu‘ehu‘e a‘o ‘Āwini
‘O ke anu anuhea o Lilinoe
Ku‘u pua hoa lehua o ka wāwena

Nani wale pua ‘awapuhi ‘akala
E ho‘āla i ka wā u‘i aia i ka piko
Ua ao, ua pua, pua kiele
Eia a‘e kou ‘ala o ia kuahiwi

There we lingered at the heights of Kehoni
Our eyes savored Puakea’s incomparable beauty
Longing filled my heart for Honoipu
Gazing, in wonderment, at the swaying steel cable over the sea

Celebrated is ‘Ūpolu Point resting in the calm
Resembling, recalling the distant land of California
Rising in glory is the cliff Paliokamoa
Floating with ease at the water’s edge

Beloved is our home at Kaname‘e
A peaceful haven where all are welcomed with aloha
Later we will wile the time away
Languishing in affection soothing the troubled heart

Famous is my sweetheart of Kohala
With the refreshing coolness of ‘Āwini
The fragrant chill of Lilinoe beckons
My companion the lehua of the rosy glow

Pretty, indeed, is the pink ginger blossom
It awakens the memories of my youthful day
Dawn has come, my love, the gardenia has bloomed
Here is your sweetheart, the fragrance from above


Sources: Mrs. Pulelo Naipo Park, Kindy Halemaumau Sproat, Mrs. Katie Merseburgh Kekahio. Composer’s notes: Mrs. Elena Naipo, wife of Robert Naipo. Permission for English translation and addition of verses 3 and 4 by J. R. Kaha‘i Topolinski given him by his Aunty Puluelo Park: Feb 2000.

English translation and verses 3 and 4 © J. R. Kaha‘i Topolinski, November 2, 2006, Waipio, O‘ahu

Aunty pulu216  large

photo courtesy of: Hula Preservation Society

Kumu Hula Alice Puluelo Naipo Park. Her grandmother Ellen (Elena) Kalaukoa Naipo composed "Pali o ka Moa" in the late 1890s. In April 2002, Aunty Pulu marked her 50th anniversary of teaching hula with the return of her Puamana Hula Studio to the Merrie Monarch Festival. Her hula ‘auana for that year was, of course, "Pali o ka Moa." Aunty Pulu passed away on August 18, 2004.

Awapuhi akala - starrs  large

photo credit: Forest & Kim Starr

Nani wale pua ʻawapuhi ʻakala / E ho‘āla i ka wā u‘i aia i ka piko – Pretty, indeed, is the pink ginger blossom

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