Kona Historical Society has something to sing about. The nonprofit has given its new baby donkey a name: Mele. The name announcement occurred March 1 after Kona Historical Society conducted a three-week-long voting contest on its website and at its Kona Coffee Living History Farm in Captain Cook.
Mele was the top contender, generating a total of 640 votes. The name was nominated by Cindy Wittemore, Ashley Chamberlain, Donna S. Starr and Jiraphon G on Kona Historical Society’s and the farm’s Facebook Pages. “Many Kona coffee farmers used Mele as their name for female donkeys,” says Miki Izu, a local kupuna, long-time coffee farmer and Kona Historical Society volunteer. Mele also refers to the chants, poems, and songs of Native Hawaiians. For Kona Historical Society staff, the new donkey’s braying song reminds us of Kona’s rich traditions.
In addition to Mele, the public was given four other options, including Shizu (262 votes), Florence (174 votes), Lucy (160 votes) and Manini (18 votes). Each vote was a dollar donation. Voters helped generate a total of $1,254, which will be used for the support and care of animals at the historic 5.5-acre farm, as well as for supporting Kona Historical Society’s educational programs and other needs.
“We’re excited to name our new baby donkey Mele, which would have been a traditional name for a female donkey on an early 20th century Kona coffee farm. This traditional name fits perfectly with our commitment to preserve and share Kona’s stories,” said Farm Museum Manager and Kona Historical Society Assistant Program Director Gavin Miculka. “We’re also grateful for everyone who voted and donated. We look forward to using the money for Charlie and his new bestie Mele.”
The 7-month-old female donkey arrived Jan. 31 at the Society’s Kona Coffee Living History Farm and was the result of a crowdfunding campaign, which sought a companion for the historic farm’s approximately 30-year-old donkey, Charlie, and upgrades to his home. Kona Historical Society plans to eventually use Mele to demonstrate some of the jobs Kona Nightingales performed on coffee farms, such as hauling coffee and other farm goods. Mele is currently undergoing training. Until Mele is deemed ready, she will mostly serve as Charlie’s companion and visitors to the farm will be able to observe the budding friendship from afar.
“Charlie and Mele have been getting along well,” said Assistant Farm Manager Joel Pearson. “We’ve noticed Mele is sweet and very smart. One of her favorite things to do is to chase the chickens out of the farm pasture.”
Kona Historical Society is a community-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and Smithsonian Museum affiliate that has spent the past four decades collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawaii.
Details about the “Charlie Needs A Bestie” crowdfunding campaign and project are available at www.razoo.com/story/Charlie-Needs-A-Bestie. For more information, call Kona Historical Society at 808-323-3222 or visit www.konahistorical.org. To get the latest updates regarding Kona Historical Society programs, historic sites and special events, “LIKE” Kona Historical Society on Facebook.