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Hawaiian Terms for People

If you are uncertain regarding the proper use of certain Hawaiian terms to refer to people, this information should help clarify common usage in the islands for you:

  • Hawaiian: Someone of Hawaiian blood, used to refer to anyone of Hawaiian ancestry or of the Hawaiian race. Sometimes Hawaiians refer to each other as Kanaka Maoli.

  • Local: Someone born in the islands.

  • Kama'aina: Someone who lives in the islands (and has a state of Hawaii driver's license).

  • Malihini: Someone who is a visitor, guest, or newcomer to the islands.

  • Wahine: Woman.

  • Kane: Man.

  • Keiki: Child or children.

  • Haole: Someone of the white or Causasian race.

  • Makuahine: Mother.

  • Makua kane: Father.

  • Ohana: Family.


    Plus here are the ways locals refer to two particular places:
  • Mainland: The continental United States.

  • Off-island: Where someone, who lives on the islands, goes when they are not on their island of residence.


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