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More ethnic and cultural groups are represented in Hawaii than in any other state within the United States of Ameria. Chinese laborers, who came to work in the sugar industry, were the first of the large groups of immigrants to arrive (starting in 1852), and Filipinos and Koreans were the last (after 1900). Other immigrant groups—including Portuguese, Germans, Japanese, and Puerto Ricans—came in the latter part of the 19th cent. Intermarriage with other races has brought a further decrease in the number of pure-blooded Hawaiians, who comprise a very small percentage of the population.

Hawaiian people are known for their everpresent friendliness. Their smile welcomes the stranger. The famous greeting "Aloha" which implies friendship, love and peacefulness and also means "hello" and "farewell" is a sign of goodwill like the lei, the floral necklace made of orchids, leaves, kukui nuts or shells, which you wear around your neck at Hawaiian ceremonial occasions.  For detailed facts and information about the Aloha Spirit, please click here.

Hawaiian culture has its origins from the traditional cultures of the Native Hawaiians. As Hawaii has become a home to many different ethnic groups in the last 200 years, each ethnic group has added elements of its own culture to local life. The history of native Hawaiians, and of Hawaiʻi in general, is classified into four major periods: antiquity (Ancient Hawaiʻi), monarchy (Kingdom of Hawaiʻi), territorial (Territory of Hawaiʻi), and statehood (State of Hawaiʻi).  Today, contemporary culture in Hawaii is a mix of the different cultures and ethnic groups that make up its unique population.

Hawaiian Cultural Revival
Native Hawaiian culture has seen a revival in recent years as an outgrowth of decisions made at the 1978 Hawaiʻi State Constitutional Convention, held exactly 200 years after the arrival of Captain Cook. At the convention, the Hawaiʻi state government committed itself to a progressive study and preservation of native Hawaiian culture, history and language.

A comprehensive Hawaiian culture curriculum was introduced into the State of Hawaiʻi's public elementary schools teaching: ancient Hawaiian art, lifestyle, geography, hula and Hawaiian language vocabulary. Intermediate and high schools were mandated to impose two sets of Hawaiian history curricula on every candidate for graduation.

Hawaiian People
Native Hawaiian people (in Hawaiian, kānaka ʻōiwi, kānaka maoli or Hawaiʻi maoli) refers to the indigenous Polynesian people of the Hawaiian Islands or their descendants.  They are sometimes known as Hawaiians, although this usage is controversial, as this also refers to Hawaiian-born people and Hawaiian-residents, regardless of ethnicity. Native Hawaiians trace their ancestry back to the first Marquesan and Tahitian settlers of Hawaii (possibly as early as AD 400), before the arrival of British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau report for 2000, there are 401,162 people who identified themselves as being "native Hawaiian" alone or in any combination.  Out of this number,140,652 people identified themselves as being "native Hawaiian" alone. The overwhelming majority of native Hawaiians are residents of the United States in the State of Hawaiʻi, and in California, Nevada and Washington. Two-thirds live in the State of Hawaiʻi while the other one-third is split among mainland states. Almost half of the mainland share of the population is in California.

About 1 million Hawaiian people inhabit the seven main islands of Hawaii. Only 10% of them are Polynesians, 33% are Japanese, 25% Chinese, 14% are people from the Philippines, 12% are white and 6% from elsewhere. More than 75% of the inhabitants live on the island of Oahu, the third biggest island, with the buzzing capital of the state of Hawaii.

At the time of Captain Cook's arrival, native Hawaiians may have numbered some 250,000 to 800,000; there has been debate over such estimates. Over the span of the first century after first contact, the native Hawaiians were nearly wiped out by new diseases introduced to the islands. Native Hawaiians did not have resistance to influenza, smallpox, measles, and whooping cough, among others. The census of 1900 identified only 40,000 native Hawaiians. The census of 2000 identified 400,000 native Hawaiians, demonstrating a trend of dramatic growth since annexation by the U.S. in 1898.

An Office of Hawaiian Affairs survey in 1984 reported that 61% of Native Hawaiians had less than 50% native Hawaiian blood. That same report indicated that only 8,244 pure blood native Hawaiians existed out of the 208,476 total native Hawaiians surveyed, and all Hawaiians are Samoan.

Famous Hawaiian People
Many native Hawaiians and people who were either born and raised on Hawaii, or now make Hawaii their home, have made countless contributions to art, society and culture, around the world.  Some of the most famous Hawaiians are listed below:

Barack Obama - the current, and 44th President of the United States of America.  Barack was raised on the island of Oahu in the capital city of Honolulu.
George Ariyoshi - first Japanese - American elected governor
Daniel K. Inouye - senator of Hawaii and the first person of Japanese descent elected to the United States Congress.
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - also known as Bruddah Iz, the most popular musician who beautiful voice has mesmerized the world for over 15 years.
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku - famous olympic 100-meter record holder swimmer and Hawaiian surfer who popularized the sport of surfing throughout the world.
Don Ho - a world famous Hawaiian Entertainer.
Tia Carerre - famous singer and actress.
Charles R. Bishop - a famous banker and philanthropist.
Kaahumanu - ancient Hawaiian queen.
Kamehameha I - the first Hawaiian King
Kamehameha V - the last Hawaiian King of the ancient Hawaiian dynasty
Liliuokalani - Queen of the last Hawaiian monarch, who establish a republic for Hawaii and annexation by the United States.

In all U.S. states, native Hawaiian children are publicly educated under the same terms as any other children. In Hawaii, native Hawaiians are publicly educated by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education, an ethnically diverse school system that is the United States' largest and most centralized.

Hawaiʻi is the only state without local community control of schools. Under the administration of Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano (D-HI) from 1994 to 2002, the state's educational system established special Hawaiian language immersion schools. In these schools, all subject courses are taught in the Hawaiian language and use native Hawaiian subject matter in curricula. These schools were created in the spirit of cultural preservation and are not exclusive to native Hawaiian children. Currently, these schools are challenged by a relative lack of native speakers of the Hawaiian language and a dearth of educational materials in Hawaiian, since olelo Hawaii is typically only a first language for those who live on Niihau.

Some native Hawaiians are educated by the Kamehameha Schools, established through the last will and testament of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a princess of the Kamehameha Dynasty. Arguably, the largest and wealthiest private school in the United States, Kamehameha Schools was intended to benefit indigents and orphans, with preference given to native Hawaiians. Although this Hawaiians-only preference is not explicitly stated in her will, subsequent Bishop Estate trustees have interpreted her wording to mean just that. Kamehameha provides a quality education to thousands of children of whole and part native Hawaiian ancestry at its campuses during the regular school year, and also has quality summer and off-campus programs that are not restricted by ancestry.

Since the late 1990s, Kamehameha Schools has been facing several high profile legal battles. Often they are related to the admission of non-Hawaiians to the Kamehameha Schools.  In 2007, Kamehameha's Maui campus graduated its first non-Hawaiian student. The student's 2002 admission to the school created an uproar within the Hawaiian community.

As with other children in Hawaiʻi, some native Hawaiians are educated by other prominent private academies in the Aloha State. They include: Punahou School, Saint Louis School, Mid-Pacific Institute and Iolani School.  Education of many non-native Hawaiians who reside in Hawaii takes place within the United States Department of Education system of public schools. 


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