John Kanaka

“John Kanaka” is a halyard shanty, that is, there are two strong pulls during the refrain or response on a line (halyard) to raise a yard-“John Kanaka, naka,  tu lai eh!” The shanty is from the Pacific as Kanaka is another word for Hawaiian. The phrase “tu lai eh” may be Samoan.

You may not have a halyard in your classroom that needs to be raised, but, my students LOVE playing a game of Tag to this song and other halyard shanties, most notably, “Alabama John Cherokee.” Use a recording or call the shanty yourself. One student is ‘it’ and all may move only on the work effort beats – “John Kanaka, naka, tu lai eh!” “It” may move on those beats as well. If he/she tags someone they are out. If a student takes more than two steps they are out. And all may move only on the work effort beats-if the student who is ‘it’ takes more than two steps, they must return to a pre-determined starting spot.

 

We’ll work tomorrow, but not today!

John Kanaka, naka, tu lai eh!

We’ll work tomorrow, but not today!

John Kanaka, naka, tu lai eh!

Tu lai eh, oh…tu lai eh!

John Kanaka, naka, tu lai eh!

Tu lai eh, oh…tu lai eh!

John Kanaka, naka, tu lai eh!

etc.

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