Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island, measuring 727.2 square miles. In the early days of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Lahaina served as the capital city. During the 19th century, much of the island was covered by pineapple and sugar plantations, including industry giant Alexander & Baldwin. Today, the plantations have largely given way to private industry and tourism.
Known as the “Valley Isle,” Maui is the seat of Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai. Maui has a population of about 144,000 with a median household income of $67,619 — one of the highest in the state. According to a 2008 U.S. Census Bureau report, the median age of island residents was 38.1 years, with 22 percent of Maui residents aged 18 or younger. The island’s highest peak, an old volcano known as Haleakala measuring 10,023 feet above sea level, is a major astrophysics research center.
For the 2010 midterm elections, Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares will seek her second term in office.
There are a total of 11 candidates in the race: Alan Arakawa of Kahului, Sally Chow Hammond of Kaunakakai, Chris Hart of Wailuku, Marc Hodges of Kula, Sol Kaho’ohalahala of Lanai City, Ori Kopelman of Kahului, Peter Milbourn of Pukalani, Harold Miller of Kihei, Jonathon Olson of Kihei, Randy Piltz of Wailuku and Tavares.
Maui will also elect new council members and several state representatives in the election.
Maui, with 120 miles of coastline, is the second largest island in Hawaii and the 17th largest island in the United States. The island is approximately 2,300 miles from California and is the second youngest island in the main chain.
One of Maui’s most prominent features is Haleakala National Park. The park covers 30,183 acres of land. Haleakala, a dormant volcano, measures 10,023 feet above sea level. From the seafloor to its summit, Haleakala is larger than Mount Everest. Its crater is two miles wide.
The precise date of Polynesian settlers’ arrival in Hawaii is unknown. Archeological evidence suggests it happened between 800-1000 A.D., though some scholars estimate it may have been as early as 400 A.D. Using the stars to navigate, they sailed to Hawaii in double-hulled canoes from the Marquesas 2,400 miles away. Others are thought to have sailed from Samoa, Tahiti and possibly Tonga.
After the arrival of Captain James Cook in January of 1787, the islands would undergo an intense period of change. A young chief from Kohala on the Big Island named Kamehameha observed the precision of Western firearms that Cook used and would eventually unite the islands after a long campaign beginning on the Big Island of Hawaii and ending on Kauai.
Kamehameha became known as “Kamehameha the Great” and would thereafter establish diplomatic ties with Westerners. The Kingdom of Hawaii was officially established in 1810 under his rule.
By 1824, it is believed that over 100 ships sailed into the port-town of Lahaina every year for trading purposes. Lahaina was the capital of Hawaii between 1820 and 1845. By the 1850s, Lahaina was hosting 400 trading ships every year and would become a preeminent whaling port until crude oil replaced the industry in the late 19th century. The town would also host one of Hawaii’s first Christian missionaries.
During the latter half of the 1800s, sugar became a massive export for the island. Alexander & Baldwin was formed on Maui during this time. The company grew to be one of the so-called “Big Five” sugar companies that wielded significant power beginning in the mid-1800s and through statehood.
In 1845, the capital was moved from Lahaina to Honolulu where Iolani Palace became the home of the Hawaiian monarchy.
In 1893, a group of U.S. annexationists, led by Lorrin A. Thurston, fabricated a story that Americans were under attack in the islands. On Jan. 17, 1893, marines from the U.S.S. Boston aided the annexationists in the successful overthrow of the monarchy.
During World War II, Maui acted as a tactical staging center. Between 1943 and 1944, over 100,000 soldiers were stationed on Maui. The island opened its first hotel in 1946.
In 2008, according to the U.S. Census, 28 percent of Maui’s employed population worked in management, professional or related occupations. About 26 percent worked in the service industry and almost 24 percent were in sales or office work. Construction, extraction, maintenance or repair occupations made up 13.4 percent. The remainder of the population worked in production and transportation jobs or in farming, fishing and forestry.
Private industry employed 74 percent of working Maui residents while 14 percent were employed by federal, state, or local government agencies. The rest were self-employed. The report found that the average commute time to work was 21.1 minutes. Also in 2008, 69 percent of Maui residents drove to work alone, 15 percent carpooled, 3 percent took public transportation and the rest used other means or worked from home.
As of April 2010, Maui County’s unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was on the high end for Hawaii, which averaged 6.3 percent in April.
Of the 49,000 household on the island, the median income was $67,619 in 2008. The rest of the major islands had an average median of $61,728 and the United States averaged $52,275.
Eight percent of Maui resident lived in poverty in 2008.
According to a one-year American Community Survey for 2008, the average household size on Maui was 2.9 people. There were 49,000 households in Maui County. Just under half or 49 percent of Maui County’s 144,000 residents were born in Hawaii.
Families made up 67 percent of Maui households. For residents over the age of five, the Census report found that 20 percent spoke a language other than English at home. Of these individuals, more than half reported that they did not speak English “very well.”
About 89 percent of Maui residents over the age of 25 had earned a high school diploma while less than a quarter of residents had a bachelor degree or higher.
In 2008, there were 30,000 Maui citizens enrolled in schools: 4,600 in nurseries and kindergarten, 20,000 in elementary or high school and 5,100 in college or graduate school.
The following are some of the major higher education institutions, public and private on Maui:
University of Hawaii Maui College
310 Ka’ahumanu Ave.
International University of Professional Studies
81 Makawao Ave.