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Ka Lei Moana

When the meaning of “Many Rivers, One Ocean” was shared with Hawaiian language scholar, Puakea Nogelmeier, he wrote “Ka Lei Moana,” “The Encircling Garland of the Sea,” which has been shared ever since at the Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony.

Ka Lei Moana

The Encircling Garland Of The Sea

The life-giving waters forever rise forth
Through the lineages of this human realm
Sprouting and thriving abundantly
Throughout the uplands, down to the shore
Spreading all over the world
Awaken and arise
Hū mau mai ka pūnāwai hōʻīnana
Ma nā ēweewe o ke ao kanaka
Kawowo mai a kukupu nui aʻe
E laha lā i uka, laha nō i kai
I laulaha a puni ka honua nei ē
E ala ē, e ala ē…
This verse speaks about how the life-giving essence flows through all humans, like water causing seeds to sprout forth, and as we carry that essence everywhere in the world, mountaintop to shore, we encircle the globe with our "many waters".

Mountain peaks wear a mantle of the mists
Heavenly moisture raining finely down
The groves of the forests are soaked
Branching waters flow toward the sea
Living waters stream down Uli's flumes
Awaken and arise
ʻAʻahu ka wēkiu i ka uhiwai
Kilikilihune mai ka noenoe lani
Pulu pē ka lau lāʻau o ka wao nahele
Manamana maila nā māno wai o uka
A kahe ka wai ola i nā ohawai o Uli ē
E ala ē, e ala ē…
This verse speaks of the physical waters of the world, from the fine mists of the mountaintops to the rains that drench the trees. It's an analogy for the external spiritual essence that nourishes the human world, creating flowing streams of waters that branch in all directions.

The highlands thrive in the drops of rain
The shore thrives in the flowing streams
The eyes behold the expansive world
How the land grows and flourishes
Mankind sweeps along the path of life
Awaken and arise
Ola ʻo uka i ka pakapaka ua
Ola ʻo kai i ka pili kahawai
Kaʻakaʻa nā maka i ke ao ākea
I ka ulu māhuahua o ka ʻāina
Kaheāwai kānaka i ke ala o ke ola ē
E ala ē, e ala ē…
This verse addresses the way that the human spiritual and physical worlds flourish from the power, presence and force of living waters, and how humans flow like the streams through the watercourse that is individual and collective life.

The great sea garlands this living isle
Ever whispering along its sandy shores
Rivers grow brackish, crossing the bound
As they flow out into the sea
Many are the rivers, bounded by one great sea
Awaken and arise
Lei nei moku ola i ke kai lālaha
E nehenehe mai ana i ka ʻae one
A he lihi hukākai ko ka muliwai
I ke kahe ʻana aku i ka moana
Manomano kahawai puni i ka moana nui ē
E ala ē, e ala ē…
The final verse speaks of the great body of water that garlands our existence like a lei. Ever-present, the ocean is the eventual repository of all waters, just as the spiritual realm is the eternal repository of spirit. The sea whispers at the edge of our existence, and crossing that boundary is a spiritual journey. The final crossing into the bounds of the ocean, where all waters transition into a manifest part of the sea that adorns our world, is celebrated in the theme, "Many Waters, One Ocean".

The final verse speaks of the great body of water that garlands our existence like a lei. Ever-present, the ocean is the eventual repository of all waters, just as the spiritual realm is the eternal repository of spirit. The sea whispers at the edge of our existence, and crossing that boundary is a spiritual journey. The final crossing into the bounds of the ocean, where all waters transition into a manifest part of the sea that adorns our world, is celebrated in the theme, "Many Waters, One Ocean".

na Puakea Nogelmeier 3/2013