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A hapa is a person of mixed ethnic heritage. The term originates in Hawaii from the Hawaiian word for "part" or "mixed". In Hawaii, the word refers to any person of mixed ethnic heritage, regardless of the specific mixture. In California, the term has recently been used to describe any person of part Asian or Pacific Islander descent, therefore there are two concurrent usages (one in Hawaii, one in California).


1 Etymology,

2 Further reading,

3 See also,

4 References,

5 Notes,

6 Sources,

7 External links,


The term hapa comes from a Hawaiian Pidgin word that denotes a part or fragment of something, itself a loan from the English word half. When applied to people, this denotes that such people are of mixed descent. Mary Pukui and Samuel Ebert's Hawaiian Dictionary define hapa as: "of mixed blood, person of mixed blood as in hapa Hawaiʻi, part Hawaiian."

Used without qualification, hapa is often taken to mean "part White," and is shorthand 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 Native Hawaiian).,

hapa ʻInikiki ʻAmelika (part Native American).,

hapa popolo (part African/black).,

hapa kepani (part Japanese); the term hapanese and "hafu" are also encountered.,

hapa pilipino (part Filipino).,

hapa pake (part Chinese).,

hapa kolea (part Korean).,

hapa kamoa (part Samoan).,

hapa (hi)sepania (part Spanish/white and Latino).,

hapa pukiki (part Portuguese/white).,

Pukui states that the original meaning of the word haole was "foreigner". Therefore, all non-Hawaiians can be called haole. In practical terms, however, the term is used as a racial description for Caucasians, with the specific exclusion of Portuguese. Portuguese were traditionally considered to be a separate race in Hawaii.

Some see the use of the term as a misappropriation of Hawaiian culture.

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.

Further reading:

Fulbeck, Kip (2006). Part Asian, 100% Hapa. Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811849593. ,

In 2001, artist Kip Fulbeck began traveling the United States to find and interview hapa participants for The Hapa Project. The accompanying book consists of hundreds Americans who are of varying ages and genders and mixed races, presumably of Asian/Pacific Islander descent. The participants have similar mugshot or passport type pictures which are expressionless, without make-up, and showing only the face from the shoulders up. Under each photograph is a hand-written response which uniquely answers the question, "What are you?"

Chai, May-Lee (2007). Hapa Girl: A Memoir. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1592136155.