Entrance Chant for Kawai Nui
Oli Komo i Kawai Nui
Hāʻaleʻale ka leo (o) ka ʻalae
He māpuna leo polo ʻai i ka laʻi
He pule kānaenae i Ulupō
I ulu pono la i Ulumāwao
Kakali ka neke i ka nihi (i)
E mai, hele mai, i [Nā Pōhaku]
Full is the voice of the ʻalae
A voice of invitation in the calm
A chant of request to Ulupō
That true inspiration reaches Ulumāwao
The neke ferns await at the border
Approach, enter, at [Nā Pōhaku]
Other famous places along Kawai Nui can be used in place of [Nā Pōhaku] as appropriate, for example, Holomakani. There is quite a bit of kaona (hidden meaning) and symbolism in this oli that bears explanation:
• ʻalae: the ʻalae is an endangered endemic waterbird of Kawai Nui and in ancient times, the ʻalae symbolized the voice of the chief whose opinion swayed the chiefly council. Some consider the voice of the ʻalae an ill omen but as a kino lau (forms taken by a supernatural body) of Hauwahine, the voice of the ʻalae is an auspicious thing at Kawai Nui!
• māpuna leo: literally translated, it means wafted voice of few words; an apt description of the voice of ʻalae! But “māpuna” also alludes to the life-giving freshwater springs that arise in Kawai Nui.
• polo ʻai: literally means to summon, to invite. It is also a veiled allusion to the famous lepo ʻai ia (edible dirt) of Kawai Nui, one of the ʻai kamahaʻo (surprising foods) of the land.
• Ulupō and Ulumawao lie before and behind you as you chant at Nā Pōhaku, and the play on ulu (growth, inspiration) is quite obvious here.
• neke: an ambiguous reference to two plants of Kawai Nui: a fern, and also a bulrush of the same name. A variant of the name is “neki.”
• niʻo: doorway or sacred threshold, but also highest point, pinnacle, as the stone of Nā Pōhaku are perched on high, overlooking the wetlands
• wahinewai: a veiled reference to Hauwahine, the moʻo-wahine at Kawai Nui
• nihi ka hele: to proceed with careful observance of kapu. Proceeding with care is part of the protocol of respect.
• ʻānapanapa: the ʻānapanapa (soap plant) is an indigenous plant that grows around Nā Pōhaku but also describes the shimmering waters of Kawai Nui.