Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

Diamond Head (Kaimana Hila) at sunrise.

For today’s ‘Ukulele Wednesday, we go to the island of O‘ahu to the majestic crater of Diamond Head, also known as Kaimana Hila. The island of O‘ahu is about 3.5 million years old. Diamond Head is believed to have last erupted about 200,000 years ago. The Hawaiians called the crater Leahi, which means the brow of the tuna, because that’s what it looks like in profile. This view is looking east from our condo in the Colony Surf. In the lower center of the photo you can see Dillingham Fountain. To the left you can see part of Kapiolani Park. Not seen in this photo is Waikiki, which is behind us.

Diamond Head, or Diamond Hill, got its name when British sailors found what they thought were diamonds on the slope. In fact, what they found was volcanic glass called olivine. The Hawaiians were unable to pronounce Diamond Hill. The Hawaiian language has few hard consonants like ‘D’ so most hard consonants are heard and pronounced as ‘K.’ Another feature of Hawaiian is that all syllables end in a vowel. Thus, the ‘d’ becomes ‘k’ and ‘a’ is affixed to the end, so ‘diamond’ is pronounced ‘kaimana.’ The same applies to the word ‘hill.’ The ‘i’ is pronounced ‘ee’ and ’a’ is added at the end. Kaimana Hila.

So here is the song, Kaimana Hila, written by Charles E. King and Andrew Cummings.

I am performing this on Mary Fran’s Kamaka Standard ‘ukulele, which she won as a door prize at a concert by the group NUE at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in June.

Kaimana Hila lyrics

I wahou makou ika po nei

A‘ike i ka nani Kaimana Hila

Kaimana Hila, kau mai i luna

I waho makou i Waikiki ea

A‘ike i ka nani papa he‘e nalu

Papa he‘e nalu he‘ehe‘e malie

I waho makou i Kapi‘olani Paka

A‘ike i ka nani lina poepoe

Lina poepoe, ho‘oluhi kino

Ha‘ina ‘ia mai ana ka puana

A‘ike i ka nani Kaimana Hila

Kaimana Hila, kau mai i luna

We went out last night

To see the grandeur of Diamond Head

Diamond Head, so majestic.

We went to Waikiki

And looked with wonder at all

The riders of the surf gliding swiftly.

We went to Kapiolani Park

And saw the circular racetrack

Tire of the horse races and gambling.

And now my song is ended

repeat first verse.

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