Kauai News

New census data confirms more Native Hawaiians reside on the continent than in Hawai’i

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Population data recently released by the U.S. Census for the first time show that more Native Hawaiians live on the continent than in Hawaiʻi, confirming what research on demographic patterns had been predicting for some time.  

The data indicate that in 2020, 47 percent of Native Hawaiians lived in Hawaiʻi, while 53 percent resided on the continent, contrasting with 2010 when 55 percent lived in Hawaiʻi and 45 percent in other states.  

The data also reveal that while the size of the Native Hawaiian populations in Hawaiʻi and on the continent both increased, the continental Native Hawaiian population is growing five times faster than the Native Hawaiian population in Hawaiʻi. Overall, 680,442 Native Hawaiians were counted in the United States in 2020, a 29 percent increase over 2010. 

The Native Hawaiian Research Hui which includes the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), Liliʻuokalani Trust, Papa Ola Lokahi, The Queen’s Health System and Kamehameha Schools, is a collaborative of Native Hawaiian serving organizations that have been tracking data to improve Native Hawaiian wellbeing. The Hui shared its desire to broadly share the new Census data to build awareness of where Native Hawaiians are residing to inform discussions on creating environments where Native Hawaiians can live and thrive. 


“We who have the privilege of remaining at the piko of Hawaiian civilization within our homeland should exemplify leadership that includes those Hawaiians who no longer live here,” said Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Interim CEO Colin Kippen. “Let us find better ways to keep these Hawaiians connected to their Hawaiian families, to their Hawaiian culture, and to their Hawaiian identity.” 

The highly anticipated data represent the public’s first opportunity to review 2020 Census data with Native Hawaiians disaggregated from other racial and ethnic groups, meaning that the Native Hawaiian population could be analyzed by itself.  Much of the interest of yesterday’s release centered around whether it would confirm the findings of recent population estimates, such as the Census’ American Community Survey, which in 2021 suggested that the number of Native Hawaiians on the continent had exceeded the population here locally.  

“While it is disheartening to note that more Hawaiians now reside outside of their pae ʻāina, the numbers of our people continue to grow and our demographic revival is stunning,” said OHA Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey. “We are and remain one people.” 


Other findings from the Census release: 

  • The five states on the continent with the highest counts of Native Hawaiians are California, Washington, Nevada, Texas, and Oregon. These are the same states identified in 2010. 
  • The proportion of Native Hawaiians in Hawaiʻi remained stable from 2010 to 2020, currently constituting 21.8% of the state’s population. This represents a 0.5 percentage point increase from 2010, demonstrating consistent Native Hawaiian representation within Hawaiʻi’s population over the past decade. 

To read the report, please visit https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2023/09/2020-census-dhc-a-nhpi-population.html.

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