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Hapa is a Hawaiian term used to describe a person of mixed Asian or Pacific Islander racial/ethnic heritage.[1][2][3]



In the Hawaiian language, hapa is defined as: portion, fragment, part, fraction, installment; to be partial, less. It is a loan from the English word half. However, in Hawaiian Pidgin (the creole spoken by many Hawai'i residents), hapa has an extended meaning of "half-caste" or "of mixed descent". Mary Pukui & Samuel Ebert's Hawaiian Dictionary define hapa as: "of mixed blood, person of mixed blood as in hapa hawai'i, part Hawaiian."[4] The word hapa has moved into mainland English.

Used without qualification, hapa is often taken to mean "part White", and is short hand for hapa haole. The term can be used in conjunction with other Hawaiian racial and ethnic descriptors to specify a particular racial or ethnic mixture. Examples of this include:

  • hapa haole (part Caucasian/white)
  • hapa kanaka (part Hawaiian)
  • hapa popolo (part African/black)
  • hapa kepani (part Japanese); the term hapanese is also encountered
  • hapa pilipino (part Filipino)
  • hapa pake (part Chinese)
  • hapa kolea (part Korean)
  • hapa kamoa (part Samoan)
  • hapa pukiki (part Portuguese/white)

Mary Pukui states that the original meaning of the word haole is "foreigner". Therefore, all non-Hawaiians are technically haole. In practical terms, however, the term is used as described here as a racial description with the specific exclusion of Portuguese. Portuguese are traditionally considered to be a separate "race" in Hawaii.[4]

Hapa-haole also is the name of a type of Hawaiian music in which the tune and styling are typically Hawaiian, but the lyrics are in English or mostly in English.[5]

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ a b Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Samuel H. Ebert. Hawaiian Dictionary, Revised and enlarged edition. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu HI, 1986.
  5. ^ Kanahele, George S., ed., Hawaiian Music and Musicians, University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu HI, 1979.

External links

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