One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A native or inhabitant of Hawaii.
- ‘As the nineteenth century drew to a close, disputes arose between the Kanaka and those of foreign descent.’
- ‘The formula endorsed by kanakas and haoles alike is to divide by two: A 6-foot island wave is about 12 feet high.’
2historical A Pacific Islander employed as an indentured labourer in Australia, especially in the sugar and cotton plantations of Queensland.
- ‘Kanakas had been aboard the first exploration and trading ships to reach the Pacific Northwest Coast.’
- ‘During the late 1860s and early 1870s, "recruiters" ranged the South Seas in search of kanakas to work Queensland sugar and cotton plantations.’
- ‘Concurrently several of us were off the map hanging with the kanakas out in the Sandwich Islands.’
Hawaiian, literally ‘man’.
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