||Hawai`i has been home to Polynesians for more than 1,500 years. The
first to arrive were from the
500 and 600 A.D.
500 years later, a
second migration occurred from Tahiti and the Society Islands.
In the 600 years
between 1100 A.D. and first contact with European explorers in 1778, the
Hawaiian population grew to more than 400,000, with some estimates
approaching 700,000. Hawaiian society was marked by rigid caste systems,
ruled by small kingdoms throughout the islands until, in 1810,
Kamehameha I conquered his rivals and became the first King of all of
Along with contact
with the outside world, came disease and, over the next hundred years,
the Native Hawaiian population was decimated.
In 1893, the population of Hawai`i was approximately 90,000 with 45%
being Native or part Hawaiian, 17% Chinese, 16% Anglo-Saxon (only 2%
being Americans), 14% Japanese, and 8% born in Hawai`i of Polynesian or
2006, with a population of 1, 285,498, approximately 40% were Asian, 28%
were white, 9% were Native Hawaiian or Polynesian, 7% Hispanics, 2%
black, and a small number of American Indians and Alaska Natives. 19%
were persons of two or more races.
This blending of races
leads to alternative sets of percentages that make it difficult to get a
clear picture of the multicultural diversity that makes Hawai`i unique
in the United States, and throughout the world. For example: people of
Asian ancestry, alone or in combination with other races, reach 55.6%,
the white population, alone of in combination with other races, was at
42.6%, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, alone or in combination
with other races, represent 21.4% ... oops, we're already well over 100%
without the Hispanic, black and other populations.
The result is a wonderful
combination of Eastern, Western and Pacific Island cultures that cross
and blend, with today's "Hawaiian" often adopting the best of all of
That does not mean that
the purity of these cultures is lost, however. Racial, family, and
community identities are honored, perpetuated, and practiced intact for
all the residents of Hawai`i to see, learn from and share.