Maui leadsThe big winners in Census 2000 are the neighbor island counties, which recorded double-digit population growths from a decade ago, said Gary A. Fuller, population studies program director at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
Kihei's 50.8 percent growth pushesA GOP boon?
Maui ahead; on Oahu, the
grows 34 percent
By Pat Omandam
"It was kind of strange because, of course, for decades the neighbor islands have been losing relative to Honolulu, and now it looks like they're going to gain," he said.
The Census 2000 results shows Maui County with 27.6 percent growth from the last census in 1990, while Hawaii County grew by 23.6 percent. Kauai County grew 14.2 percent during the same period.
Honolulu City and County grew a modest 4.8 percent, to 876,156 from 836,231.
Breaking the numbers down by community, Kihei, Maui showed the biggest growth in the past 10 years, to 16,151 from 11,107, or 50.8 percent.
State Rep. Chris Halford (R), who represents the area, said Kihei has been written up as one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation. Halford likes to view the town's growth as another sign of a viable community.
He said the census data, among other things, will help his argument for a new high school in Kihei. State Department of Education officials predicted a much slower growth for the area.
On Oahu, the census showed the population of Mililani dropped, while the Makakilo/ Kapolei area had the highest growth.
The 2.6 percent decrease in Mililani from a decade ago, to 28,608 from 29,359, does not surprise longtime resident and state Rep. Marilyn Lee.
Lee, (D), believes the drop may be due to the housing shortage of the late 1980s and early 1990s. She said that during that time there were many multi-generational families in Mililani who were counted in the 1990 census.
Since then, those people have moved out, Lee said. Also, she believes people are having smaller families, while Mililani physically continues to grow.
"Our schools are still overcrowded," she said.
The Makakilo/Kapolei area grew 33.9 percent, to 13,156 last year, from 9,828 in 1990.
Overall, the state population grew 9.3 percent, to 1,211,537 people last year from 1,108,229 in 1990. Pearl Imada Iboshi, state research and economic analysis director, said the data show a slower rate of growth in the past 10 years than in past history.
By ethnicity, Asians, Caucasians and native Hawaiians comprised the largest categories, followed by African Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives and those who were categorized as some other race.
About 21 percent of the state's population identified themselves as having a mixed race.
Imada Iboshi said the census data will be used, among other things, for economic projections, such as long-term forecasts for economic growth. The size of the population does affect how the economy will grow, she said.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairwoman Haunani Apoliona, who serves on an advisory committee to the U.S. Census Bureau, said this census is important for native Hawaiians because they were finally able to split off from the Asian and Pacific Islander category.
Apoliona said the separation gives Hawaiian leaders and agencies a clearer handle on the demographics of Hawaii's native people. Census 2000 results show there were 113,539 people who said they were native Hawaiian, and another 169,128 who claimed the Hawaiian category in combination with another race.
"This is only the first," Apoliona said of the census results. "But it appears to be a positive first step, despite the statistical nightmare statisticians have trying to bridge the 1990 to the 2000 numbers."
Meanwhile, professor Fuller said it would be more useful for Hawaii residents if the Asian category were broken down into three major Asiatic categories: Japanese, Chinese and Filipino races.
"In Hawaii, we're used to thinking of people as being Japanese, Chinese and Filipino. But here they're all lumped together as Asian," Fuller said.
"So that makes it a little hard to cope with this (census data) in a way in which we normally think of our population."
The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures show the neighbor islands ripe for political change -- and that could benefit the Republicans in next year's elections.
Population data could portend a
turnaround in the next elections
By Richard Borreca
Both Republican and Democratic politicians are looking at the new figures and see the dramatic growth of the neighbor islands as providing new opportunity for the GOP.
"I would assume that the Republican Party is pleased," said Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa.
She explained that as more voters look for change, they are willing to try the GOP.
"In the past, you could assume that the neighbor islands would bring in the Democratic candidate for governor, but I don't think you can assume that anymore," she said.
The Republican Party chairwoman, Linda Lingle, sees the new figures as a positive sign.
"People will vote Republican or independent in new growth areas," she said.
Maui County showed 27 percent population growth since 1990. The Big Island was next, with a 23 percent increase, and Kauai jumped 14 percent.
Oahu was the only area of minimal growth, with an increase of only 4.8 percent.
Republican Sen. Sam Slom who represents Hawaii Kai, said his is one area that has not grown. "What you are doing is going from the old Hawaii Kai for young families and growth to a community that doesn't want more growth -- an older community," he said.
"I know some of my colleagues are concerned about it," Slom added.
Slom cautioned politicians that new or rapid growth will not automatically translate into new GOP voters.
"Remember, Pearl City was an area of rapid growth and it was strongly Democratic," he said.
And on Maui, Rep. Chris Halford, a Republican, represents the Kihei area, but the senator for the area is Sen. Avery Chumbley, a Democrat.
"I've considered Kihei to be independent. It is willing to go both parties," Halford said.
What Kihei is likely to get, however, is a separate House seat in the upcoming reapportionment.
Every ten years, the state and city are required to redistribute the representation of the House, Senate and City Council, using census figures. The point is to divide the state into equal districts.
But in the process, the drawing of political boundary lines becomes a fine art. By moving a boundary line just a few hundred yards, two Democrats or two Republicans may find themselves running against each other for the same seat.
To balance out the political charges, the state reapportionment commission is selected by the Democratic and Republican leaders in both the House and Senate. Each party in each chamber gets to pick two members, then those eight commissioners meet to choose a chair.
The legislature has yet to make any selections, but the commission is required by the state constitution to hold its first meeting by May 1.