Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ka Ua Kani-Lehua

This past week it seems like something got reset, and Hilo is finally back to its usual weather after several long months of dull, hot, and dry. It's rained off and on every day so far since then. While looking out the window watching the sun shine on the rain falling on the plumeria tree in our backyard, I was inspired to write the following poem.

A note on the term Kani-lehua: it's the name of a particular kind of mistlike rain Hilo is famous for. Hawaiian has a lot of names for specific rains associated with places, such as Kīpuʻupuʻu for Waimea, Kūkala-hale for Honolulu, Lani haʻahaʻa for Hāna, Pupū-hale for Hāmākua, etc. Kani-lehua means “[the rain that] lehua flowers drink.” Lehua flowers grow on the ʻōhiʻa tree which is common in and around Hilo, are associated with rain, and are the official flower of the island of Hawaiʻi.

Ka Ua Kani-lehua

Aia ka ua
Ke heleleʻi maila.
Liliko ma nā lihilihi
O nā pua mēlia.

Nani ka mēlia
I ke ao o ka lā.
Moani ke ʻala
I ka laʻi o ka pō.

Kū ke kumu mēlia
Ma ka ua Kani-lehua.
Mōhala aʻe nā pua
ʻĀlohilohi nō.
The Lehua-Refreshing Rain

All around, to Earth
The rain is falling,
Sparkling on the petals
Of the plumeria flowers.

Beautiful are the plumeria
In the light of day.
Gently wafted is their fragrance
In the calmness of the night.

The plumeria tree stands
In the lehua-refreshing rain.
Open are its flowers,
Resplendently radiant.


  1. That is so cool! Pua melia is plumeria flower?

    One of the campus dorms is named Kanilehua. It's much nicer to think about rain, though. :)

  2. ‘Ae, that's right. I'd forgotten about the dorm!


Think I said something interesting or insightful? Let me know what you thought! Or even just drop in and say "hi" once in a while - I always enjoy reading comments.