Lei ʻAwapuhi -Words & Music by Mekia Kealakai

He leo nō ka ipo kaʻu i lohe iho
Naʻu e kākele a mau ia pua
Ua hoʻoholo like ʻia e ka naulu
E kui i wehi nō ka liko

Hoʻohihi wale nō ke aloha i laila
Ia pua i mōhala i ka ʻiu
Naʻu e ke aloha e kui a lawa
Me aʻu kou lei ʻawapuhi

Lei ʻawapuhi lei hiki ahiahi
Hoapili o maile lau liʻi
Lana mālie iho hoʻi ka manaʻo
Me ka nani lei ‘awapuhi

Mōlaʻe o ke kula i ka maka o ka ʻōpua
Me ka ua noe o ka uka kukui
I pulu no māua i ke aloha mikioi
Ka makani kolonahe o ka wao

ʻAkahi ka manaʻo a ʻike pono iho
Ka ʻiʻini pau ʻole aia nei
He momi ke aloha maʻemaʻe i ke kino
Me ka nani lei ʻawapuhi

I heard the voice of a loved one say
Let me pluck and wear the flower
The dense cloud made a resolution
To string a lei for my leaf bud to wear

My love was strongly attracted
To the choicest flower that ever bloomed
Let me darling, string it into a lei
Oh, let your ginger be mine

Ginger lei who comes to me at eventide
Close companion of the small leaf maile
Let your hope quietly abide
With the beautiful ginger lei

The plain is in full view before the eyes of the cloud
And the mist of the distant upland
We were drenched with love that came quickly
As the gentle breeze of the mountain region

Then came the thought to see for ourselves
The endless desire that is here
Love is a precious pearl to a person
With the beautiful ginger lei

Source: Cunha's Bergstrom Collection - Mekia Kealakai, a flutist and leader of the Royal Hawaiian Band, was on a train enroute to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, with his Hawaiian troupe The train stopped in a field of daisies and members got off to pick the flowers. That was the inspiration for the mele about the fragrant Hawaiian ginger that was first popularized on the US mainland before it was ever played in Hawai`i. Translation by Mary Pukui