John Kanaka

Originally a traditional ‘long haul’ or halyard shanty


We have taken the decision to remove this song from the Song Bank since information about its problematic history has come to light.

The term ‘kanaka’ originates from the Hawaiian language for ‘person’ or ‘human being’ (e.g. ānaka ʻōiwi or kānaka maoli) but more recently it has come to be used as a derogatory term for a Pacific Islander. It can be considered an offensive term and a reminder for many people of the exploitation of their ancestors in the British colonies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The song's association with racist and offensive language makes it inappropriate to include in our resources.