Pua ʻIliahi (Sandalwood Flower) - Bill Aliʻiloa Lincoln

He aloha nō he aloha
Ka liko pua ʻiliahi
E please mai hoʻi ʻoe ke aloha
Oi ai ʻana ua meha
ʻAnoʻai wale ke ʻike aku
A ka malu ʻulu o ka wehiwehi
Ke kai hone hone nei i kuʻu poli
Ke hone nei kuʻu poli
Pehea kāua e ka hoa
Kaʻanoʻi a ke aloha
Ka maile lau lipolipo i ka wao
Ka hanu ʻaʻala o kuʻu ipo
Haʻina mai ka puana
Nā dew drops ke aloha
Ha`ina hou ka puana
He aloha no he aloha
Lanaʻi Iliahi


Truly loved, yes truly
Is the bud of the sandalwood
Won't you please return my love
Or I shall be lonesome
How delightful it is to see you
In the shade of the breadfruit grove
The sea caresses my bosom
Speaking softly to my heart
What shall become of us, my friend?
The desire of my heart
The dark green maile leaf of the uplands
The fragrant breath of my love
The refrain is told
I love the dew drops
Tell the refrain again
Of true love

Source: N. Miller Collection, Translated by R. Bruce Denney - Abundance of sandalwood forests were discovered in 1790, and led to the "Sandalwood Bonanza", Hawaiʻi's first major commercial export. Valued in the Orient for its exotic fragrant scent and close-grained hardwood, the Americans realized its valuable trade opportunities. The vasts forests extended to the sea, but these areas were soon depleted, and harvesting went to the mountains that lacked roads for pack animals. People power was used and logs 3 to 4 feet long, 2 to 8 inches in diameter, were strapped to the head and shoulders of men, women and children and carried to warehouses along the coast. It is said that King Kamehameha I joined in the harvest and on occasion there was singing, dancing and feasting. The standard unit of measure was a picul, approximately 133 pounds, the maximum weight a man could easily carry on his back. The price fluctuated from $3.00 to $18.00 a picul and under Kamehameha I, a shrewd and clever businessman, the sandalwood trade was a source of wealth for his kingdom, bringing $400,000 in one year. He personally handled all business transactions and paid for all purchases with varying amounts of sandalwood. The death of Kamehameha I, May 1819, ended the peace, prosperity and monopoly of the sandalwood trade. Whereas King Kamehameha I had always paid cash for purchases, the succeeding aristocracy purchased on credit payable in sandalwood, a resource that was dwindling while the national debt was escalating. Pressed for payment, the makaʻāinana (commoner) was ordered into service and left their fields and taro patches idle. Many died of exposure as they harvested in the high, colder altitudes of the mountains and the first famine stalked the Hawaiian Islands. By 1827, the economy was critical. The Hawaiians called sandalwood,ʻIliahi and the wood, laʻau ʻala or fragrant wood. ʻIliahi powder was mixed with coconut oil to perfume tapa and the logs used as firewood. With no significant value to the local culture, the vast forests were plundered and destroyed within 30 years. ʻIliahi is still found in the mountains and there is a sandalwood pit, the length, breadth, and depth of a ship's hull in the Kapālama-Nuʻuanu ridge above Honolulu, and another one located in the Molokaʻi Forest Reserve.