Hawaiian Media Style Guide

In a world of sound bites and snapshots, journalists are called upon every day to use words correctly and appropriately. This guide serves as a starting point in ensuring the accuracy and respect in reporting on Native Hawaiian culture, issues, and people.


Caution. A highly controversial measurement of the amount of “Native Hawaiian blood” one might have. Blood quantum minimums are used by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to determine whether or not a Native Hawaiian may receive land. Not to be used as a measurement of Native Hawaiian identity, i.e. someone with a higher blood quantum is more Hawaiian than someone with a lower blood quantum. See DEPARTMENT OF HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS.

Avoid. Following the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, an estimated 1.8 billion acres of Crown Lands and Government Lands were illegally taken from the Hawaiian monarchy by the self-proclaimed Republic of Hawaiʻi. “Ceded” means to relinquish. These lands were seized. Use “former crown lands” instead. See CROWN LANDS; OVERTHROW; HAWAIIAN KINGDOM.



Caution. An ethnic group. Refers to a person who is of Polynesian descent. Unlike a term like Californian, Hawaiian should not be used for everyone living in Hawaii. The distinction is not trivial. If Wales were the 51st state, not everyone living in Wales would be Welsh. Possible alternative: islander. See ETHNIC GROUP; ETHNICITY; PACIFIC ISLANDER.