Hawaiians to be referred to as “kanaka,” 1925.


Several days ago, in the English newspapers of Honolulu Town, we heard the thoughts of Professor Adams [Polopeka Akamu] of the University of Hawaii, explaining that the Hawaiian People were looking for a new name for themselves, and that name being “kanaka,” and as for all of the other ethnicities born in Hawaii nei, they would be known as “Hawaiians.”

From our understanding of this idea of this friend of ours, it is not appropriate nor right, and for this reason: this name we have, “Hawaiians,” it is a name which we have been accustomed to from our ancestors; it is a name known worldwide, “Hawaiians” are the natives to these islands, and to change the name “Hawaiian” and for us to be known hereon as “kanaka;” who amongst us Hawaiians who love our motherland will raise his hand announce before the whole world, I want to be called a “kanaka,” not a “Hawaiian.”

Therefore, oh people of the native land, from Kauai to Hawaii, let us rise at once to announce with one heart, no, not at all shall we change this name “Hawaiian,” and call ourselves “kanaka.”

The Heavenly Father will definitely not allow this name that is beloved by us, “Hawaiians” to be changed.

(Hoku o Hawaii, 12/15/1925, p. 2)


Ka Hoku o Hawaii, Buke XIX, Helu 30, Aoao 2. Dekemaba 15, 1925.

3 thoughts on “Hawaiians to be referred to as “kanaka,” 1925.

  1. The word “kanaka” had a derogatory meaning in everyday local English / pidgin speech, certainly by the 1930s, and that could have influenced this writer to reject it. It was often preceded by the word “dumb”.

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