In this video, Jeff Peterson plays Imi au ia oe for fingerstyle ukulele. Originally arranged by Keola Beamer for slack key guitar, Jeff adapts it here for fingerstyle ukulele using reentrant tuning. This famous waltz is usually attributed to Charles E.King, but King may have learned it originally from Queen Lili’uokalani. Queen Lili’uokalani wrote a song with the same title in 1874.

The lyrics of the song speak of a man searching for his lost love. He mentions searching in the “fragrant groves of Puna,” which is one of the districts of Hawai’i on the Big Island.  Puna is a dangerous place to be because it’s located on the East Rift Zone of Mt. Kilahuea, one of the most active volcanoes on earth. There is a beautiful remote scenic route called the “Red Road” (or Kapoho-Kalapana) that is lined with groves of coconut trees. Here are the full lyrics to King’s version of the song:



‘Auhea wale ‘oe e ke aloha lâ
E ka mea ho ‘eha ‘eha pu ‘uwai
Na wai e ‘ole ke aloha ia lâ
A he waiwai ua sila mua ia

A’ohe kohukohu o ka ua lâ
Ke pili mai me a’u ka wahine u’i
‘Aia ko’u hoa a e kohu ai
O ka ‘i’iwi hulu ‘ula o ka nahele

‘Imi au ia ‘oe e ke aloha lâ
Ma na paia ‘a’ala o Puna
A i hea la ‘oe i nalowale iho nei
Ho’i mai no kâua e pili


Where are you, my love
The one who stirs my heart
Who can help loving you
Riches bound to me from the beginning

The rain is not suitable
When I am with a pretty woman
The companion for me, truly compatible
Is the red-feathered ‘i’iwi bird of the uplands

I search for you, my love
In the fragrant groves of Puna
Where have you disappeared to?
Come back and stay with me


This is just one of many Hawaiian songs from our Hawiian Songs Library at Ukulele Corner Academy. If you’d like to learn fingerstyle ukulele in a structured way with a guide, please consider joining Ukulele Corner Academy! Go here to learn all about Ukulele Corner Academy and take your ukulele playing to the next level.