new zealand electronic poetry centre



N A O M I   L O S C H

Born in Kahuku, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i in 1945, Naomi Losch received her early education in the sugar plantation community on rural O‘ahu. She is of Hawaiian, Tahitian, Chinese and Haole extraction and graduated from the Kamehameha School for Girls in Honolulu, a school for children of Hawaiian ancestry. She received her BA in Anthropology and MA in Pacific Islands Studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and is currently an Associate Professor of Hawaiian Language at UHM. Naomi has taught Hawaiian language and culture at university level for over 30 years.

Blood Quantum

We thought we were Hawaiian
Our ancestors were Liloa, Kuali‘i and Alapa‘i.
We fought at Mokuohai, Kepaniwai and Nu‘uanu,
And we supported Lili‘ulani in her time of need.
We opposed statehood.
We didn’t want to be the 49th or the 50th,
And once we were, 5(f) would take care of us.
But what is a native Hawaiian?
Aren’t we of this place?
‘O ko mākou one hānau kēia.’
And yet, by definition we are not Hawaiian.
We can’t live on Homestead land,
Nor can we receive OHA money.
We didn’t choose to quantify ourselves,
1/4 to the left                     1/2 to the right
3/8 to the left                     5/8 to the right
7/16 to the left                   9/16 to the right
15/32 to the left                 17/32 to the right
They not only colonised us, they divided us.

(In 1920, the United States Congress created the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.
Persons of 50 percent Hawaiian blood or more were eligible to lease homestead lots for
99 years at $1 a year. Since then, other programs which have been established to help
the Hawaiian people have had the 50 percent blood quantum imposed. 5(f) is a clause in
the Admissions Act (for Statehood) which provides for Hawaiians as defined in the
1920 Act. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), a multi-million dollar State of
Hawai‘i agency, also has a provision for native Hawaiians as defined in 1920.)



Last updated 04 July, 2004