Native Hawaiian group: In wake of wildfires, families are fleeing Maui in large numbers

"There’s just a lack of options available to them."
Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 5:05 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2023 at 10:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement says large numbers of families have left Maui in the wake of the wildfires — and more are leaving daily.

It’s among the big issues — along with housing, jobs, tourism and water — that will be talked about at the organizations first-ever convention next week to be held on the Valley Island.

In June, CNHA held its annual convention in Las Vegas focusing on Native Hawaiians priced out of paradise and living on the continent. Shortly after that, Census data confirmed the majority of Native Hawaiians are living away from Hawaii.


Kuhio Lewis, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement CEO, believes Maui’s recovery could take five to 10 years but that many families cannot wait.

“Families are moving in large numbers. There’s just a lack of options available to them. They’re moving away to other counties, and in many cases, they’re moving away to the continent, which is troubling, because we’ve already lost a significant amount of our population to the continent,” said Lewis.

Lewis says public data is not available yet, but he says families are moving from many areas of Maui — not just Lahaina.

“There is indication that there’s a large number of families, hundreds perhaps that have already moved,” said Lewis.

To help with housing, CNHA is working with Maui County, the American Red Cross and the Hawaii Community Foundation on a Host Housing Support Program where host families can get money for housing people who were displaced.

“That program has gotten off to a great start. We have over 600 people that have identified themselves as hosting survivors and sometimes there’s three, four, and in some applications, we saw there were 16 people living in one hosted family,” said Lewis.

Next week Tuesday through Friday, issues like this will be discussed at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului for CNHA’s first Maui convention, where 1,700 have signed up to attend.

The four mayors, including Maui Mayor Richard Bissen, will talk about housing. Other discussions will be on balancing tourism, water rights and workforce development.

Registration is closed, but Hawaii News Now will be there providing coverage of the event.