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Tying together past and present generations

Hiki Mai E Nā Pua’s deeper meanings continually influences generations throughout BYUH and the community

Cy Bridges (right) greets a man at the canoe festival Iosepa participated in at Kualoa Beach.
Cy Bridges (right) greets a man at the canoe festival Iosepa participated in at Kualoa Beach.
Photo by Camille Jovenes

Pioneer ancestors calling out to their descendants to come forward and listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd is what Hiki Mai E Nā Pua is about. The “mele,” or chant, was written by Kumu Hula Cy Bridges as a hula ka’i or entrance song for the Pioneers in the Pacific Celebration on Oct.7-11, 1997.

The celebration commemorated the 150 anniversary since pioneers arrived in Utah. It recognized the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with global members becoming greater than in North America.

It also focused on local pioneers whose contributions are significant in establishing the Church in their respective areas, such as the Pacific.

The chant was then incorporated into the Hawaiian studies program by the late William Kauaiwiulaokalani Wallace III, commonly known as “Uncle Bill,” and former director of the Jonathan Napela Center for Hawaiian Language and Cultural Studies at BYU-Hawaii. Since then, it is used during meetings, protocols and welcome ceremonies for visitors.

An empowering influence

“It is one of those chants that BYUH, as a whole, has embraced because the Hawaiian studies program embraced it in the beginning,” said Jerusha Magalei, Wallace’s daughter and assistant professor in the Faculty of Education & Social Work.

Bridges and Wallace’s families “have intertwined for generations,” said Magalei. Bridges and Wallace were cousins, she explained, and they had a special connection that seemed like they were brothers.

Wallace had a desire to honor Bridges creation as well as cultivate an understanding of the kaona or deeper meanings of the chant for students, she said. This led Wallace to adapt Hiki Mai E Nā Pua for the Hawaiian studies program.

Alohalani Housman, dean and associate professor of the Faculty of Culture, Language, & Performing Arts at Jonathan Napela Center for Hawaiian & Pacific Studies, said there are usually kaona people find when they deeply understand mele.

“Everything is symbolic [about the chant],” said Housman. She said the chant brings an important message that connects descendants to their ancestors and serves as a reminder to follow the voice of the Lord.

“It serves as an encouragement to all of us to come forward. We can’t just stay where we are at. We need to continue to learn, progress, move forward and keep going all the time,” said Housman.

She said Hiki Mai E Nā Pua has become a foundation for the Hawaiian studies program because of its beautiful meaning. She said it is the first chant the Hawaiian studies majors learn when they come. She said it has also been incorporated in the program’s special kīhei ceremony, where the kumu, or teachers, tie the kīhei, or garment, to the student as a symbol of their mastery and knowledge of the Hawaiian language.

Cy Bridges in cultural attire.
Cy Bridges in cultural attire.
Photo by Mike Foley

A special remembrance

Magalei said the reach of the chant has extended past the Hawaiian studies program. People at “the Lahanuli Gardens also sing the chant as part of their protocol when students come or people from outside visit. The Social Work department also uses it, and some other classes use it in their own spaces,” she said. “I use it for my classes when I teach,” she added.

She shared as students sing the chant, her father Bill Wallace, hoped they would understand who they are. “They are these special and important adornments, leis or flowers of their ancestors, and what they do will reflect where they come from,” she said. “They are also representatives of the Savior,” she added.

Housman shared a meaningful experience she had when she was invited to be a speaker at a youth conference. She said the youth went to see a loi, which is a kalo or taro field, run by a BYUH graduate.To show respect to the place, she said they chanted the Hiki Mai E Nā Pua.

Witnessing BYUH graduates passing on the chant with the youth, she said, led her to realize Hiki Mai E Nā Pua’s empowering influence is not only felt at BYUH but also continues throughout the community.

When preparing for the launching of Iosepa, together with the hymn, "Pule Maluhia,” which is “Secret Prayer, “ Housman said every training and meeting opened and closed with the chant.

“It is a continuation of our beliefs, values, love and respect for Uncle Cy and Uncle Bill. It is always special to do it in their remembrance,” said Housman. She said it is also a way to show the relationship, respect and appreciation for those who have contributed so much to us.

Below is an explanation by Cy Bridges of what the chant means.

Hiki Mai E Nā Pua chant

Hiki mai e nā pua i ka laʻi ē
Come forth oh children in the calm

Na pua in the first verse refers to the students who participated in the [celebration]. Most were BYUH students, however there were quite a number of others from the community. It could represent all of our youth.

“In the calm” identifies those who are members of the Church. La’ie was a place of refuge just as our families, church, communities, wards, stakes, schools or anything connected with the church should be in our lives. A place of refuge, with an element of healing and enlightenment where individuals can make positive changes in their lives. That would be “the calm” compared to the rest of the world.

Ke piʻi aʻe la i ka mauna kiʻekiʻe
And climb the high mountain
Strive for the summit. Keep your standards high.
Haʻa mai nā kama me ka makua
Dance forward with your Father
Ha’a is an archaic term for dance with bent knees. However, it also means to be humble, meek and unpretentious, which could be interpreted as having a broken heart and contrite spirit.
He wehi pūlama aʻo ke kupuna
A cherished adornment of the ancestors
The cherish adornment refers to the adornment of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. This was embraced by ancestors who were the pioneers of the church in the Isles of the Sea.
E kaʻi mai ana, e kaʻi mai ana
Come forward, proceed forward
Ka’i also means to lead, direct, to lift up and another form of ka’i is huaka’i, a procession, journey or mission. As their mission in life continues, they would be a strong “ala-ka’i” or leaders.
E hahai i ka leo o ka Haku ē
Follow the voice/word of the Lord
Together, these lines mean to know Him and understand His teachings and His words.