What It Takes To Be Called ‘Local’

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - April 16, 2008

I have been blessed to call Hawaii home for more than 20 years, but does that qualify me as being “local”?

Our esteemed and brutally handsome editor Don Chapman authored the popular book You Know You’re In Hawaii When ... where his observations are spot-on about living in Hawaii. The taking of shoes off at the door, eating plate lunch or greeting friends with “howzit” are all commonalities of local living. But at what point is someone “local”?

Many believe that being “local” means being born here. If you were born in Hawaii, you are a “local.” If you are a transplant, then you are “malihini.” The bumper sticker says it all, “I grew here, you flew here.” It’s pretty cut and dried, and you may even agree.

Another train of thought is if you went to high school here, that makes you “local.” You could have been born on Jupiter, but if you went to Farrington, Saint Louis, Kalani, Kahuku, etc., then you are “local.”


Some believe it is your spirit and persona that makes you “local.” If you embrace the “local” traditions and host culture, then you are “local.” As long as you show respect, you will receive respect. According to this logic, if you are pretty cool with everybody, wear board shorts and dine at L&L, that qualifies you as being “local.”

A precise definition would be possessing a Hawaii driver’s license. It’s official. You are part of the Hawaii community. If you are not a “local,” you are at least a kamaaina. What says “local” more that getting deep discounts on stuff that others have to pay full price for?

Still not sure if you are “local”? Welcome to the “Am I A Local?” quiz.

1) How would you end the question, “Am I Local Enough To Be A Local, ____?”

a) Bud
b) Bob
c) Brah

2) Mac Salad is ...

a) An extremely unsuccessful rap artist
b) A truck that transports lettuce
c) A side dish as important as life itself

3) The “local” definition of “Flip-Flops” is ...

a) A diving competition in Manila
b) A clumsy gymnast
c) Rubbah slippahs

4) The Likelike is ...

a) Opposite of “Don’t Like-Don’t Like”
b) An enthusiastic response to shave ice
c) A trans-Ko’olau highway

5) A Nene Goose is ...

a) Mother Goose’s embarrassing uncle
b) An unwelcome greeting as you are walking away
c) Hawaii’s state bird


All you have to do is pass this quiz and voila! you are “local.”

Sound ridiculous? Of course it is.

It’s also ridiculous to try to qualify someone’s opinion or relevancy by some nebulous term. You are local if you live here. You are local if you respect your neighbor. You are local if you love Hawaii. We should all be grateful that we call such a wondrous place home and not get caught up in all the distractions of categorizing each other. We have more important things to do.

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