dd>Maui is also the name of the mythological demigod of various Polynesian cultures, including that of ancient Hawai‘i; see Maui (mythology).
Image of Maui taken by NASA.
Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727 square miles (1883 km²). Native Hawaiian tradition gives the origin of the island's name in the legend of Hawai‘iloa, the Polynesian navigator attributed with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates how he named the island of Maui after his son who in turn was named for the demi-god Maui. According to legend, the demi-god Maui raised all the Hawaiian Islands from the sea. The Island of Maui is also called the "Valley Isle" for the large fertile isthmus between its two volcanoes.
Maui is part of the State of Hawai‘i and is the largest island in Maui County. The island had a resident population of 117,644 in 2000—a very distant second within the state to the Island of O‘ahu. The population is diverse, with many ethnic groups having originally arrived in the islands to work sugar cane and pineapple plantations from countries of the Western Pacific rim. Maui is part of Maui County, the other islands comprising the county being Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe, and Moloka‘i. The larger towns on Maui Island include Kahului, Wailuku, Lahaina, and Kīhei. See Maui County for a list of towns.
Polynesians, from Tahiti and the Marquesas, were the original peoples to populate Maui. The Tahitians introduced the kapu system, a strict social order that affected all aspects of life and became the core of Hawaiian culture. The mid 1700s began the modern Hawaiian history. King Kamehameha I took up residence (and later made his capital) in Lahaina after conquering Maui in the bloody Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790 in the Ī‘ao Valley.
Captain James Cook "discovered" Maui on November 26, 1778. In Cook's wake came traders, whalers, loggers (e.g., of sandalwood) and missionaries. The missionaries began to arrive from New England in 1823, choosing Lahaina because it was the capital. They clothed the natives, banned them from dancing hula, and greatly altered the culture. They tried to keep whalers and sailors out of the bawdy houses. The missionaries taught reading and writing, created the 12-letter Hawaiian alphabet, started a printing press in Lahaina, and began writing the islands' history, until then existing only as oral accounts. They started the first school in Lahaina, which still exists today: Lahainaluna Mission School. The Mission school opened in 1831 and was the first secondary school to open West of the Rockies.
At the height of the whaling era (1840-1865), Lahaina was a major whaling centre with anchorage in Lahaina Roads; in one season over 400 ships visited Lahaina and the greatest number of ships berthed at one time was about 100. A given ship tended to stay months rather than days which explains the drinking and prostitution in the town at that time. Whaling declined steeply at the end of the 19th century as crude oil (petroleum) replaced whale oil.
Kamehameha's descendants reigned in the islands until 1872. They were followed by rulers from another ancient family of chiefs, including Queen Lili‘uokalani who ruled in 1893 when the monarchy was overturned. One year later, the Republic of Hawai‘i was founded. The island was annexed by the United States in 1898 and made a territory in 1900. Hawai‘i became the 50th state in U.S. in 1959.
Maui was centrally involved in the Pacific Theatre of World War II as a staging centre, training base, and for R&R, At the peak in 1943-44, the number of troops stationed on Maui exceeded 100,000. The main base of the 4th Marines was in Haiku. Beaches (e.g., in Kīhei) were used for practice landings and training in marine demolition and sabotage.
Modern Development The island has experienced rapid population growth in recent years (e.g., 4.6% in 2001/2002) with Kihei one of the most rapidly growing towns in the U.S. (see chart). The growth is occurring because many people, having visited Maui, decide to move or retire to the island.
| Maui County Population, 1960-2000 |
| ||1960||1970||1980||1990||2000 |
|Total ||42,576 ||45,984 ||70,847 ||100,374 ||128,094 |
|Change || ||3,408 ||24,863 ||29,527 ||27,720 |
|Percent Change || ||8.0% ||54.1% ||41.7% ||27.6% |
| || source: CensusScope 2000 Census analysis |
Population growth—partly due to an influx of new people typically from Canada and the U.S. mainland—is producing strains, including growing congestion on many of the major roads. There is concern about the availability of affordable housing and access to water. Property prices have risen to levels that families on average incomes find it difficult to afford housing (either renting or buying). Property developers have insufficient regulatory or financial incentive to build less expensive (affordable) homes. Maui County Council has been investigating ways of changing the situation.
There have been long-term concerns about the reliability of supply of potable water: droughts have been declared in most recent years and the Ī‘ao aquifer has been drawn down at what are believed may be unsustainable rates of above 18 million gallons (68,000 m³) per day. Whilst the situation remains unclear, and reliable supply has not been secured, recent estimates indicate that the total potential supply of potable water on Maui is, at an estimated 476 million gallons (1,800,000 m³) per day, many times greater than foreseeable demand.
There is a great deal of discussion about the meaning of, and the way to achieve, smart development. There is clearly a tension between economic growth and urbanisation on the one hand, and the wish to preserve the beauty of Maui and a relaxed way of life on the other. In the past there existed a pro-growth bias in policy with developers and politicians working to stimulate the economy; now the balance has swung toward more sensitive consideration of community concerns (about the dangers of unwise growth/development) and developers no longer have everything their way.
The major industries are agriculture and tourism. Maui Land & Pineapple and Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar (HC&S - a subsidiary of Alexander and Baldwin Company) dominate agricultural activity. HC&S produces sugarcane on about 37,000 acres (150,000,000 m²) of the Maui central valley, the largest sugarcane operation remaining in Hawai‘i. The cane is irrigated mostly with water drawn from aqueducts that run from the windward (northern) slopes of Haleakalā that receive considerable rainfall. A controversial feature of sugarcane production is the burning that is done for about 9 months of the year. These are controlled burns of fields to reduce the crop to bare canes just before harvesting. The fires produce smoke that towers above the Maui central valley most early mornings, and ash (locally referred to as "Maui snow") that is carried downwind (often towards north Kihei).
The retail center for Maui residents is Kahului.
Maui is also an important centre for astronomy with the Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site being one of the five best astronomical and space surveillance sites in the world.
Aerial view of Maui
Maui is a volcanic doublet: an island formed from two volcanic mountains that abut one another to form the isthmus between them. The older volcano, Mauna Kahalawai, is much older and has been eroded considerably; it is now called the West Maui Mountain. The larger volcano in the East, Haleakalā with its infamous caldera — rises above 10,023 feet (3,050 m). The last eruption occurred around 1790, and the lava flow can be viewed between ‘Āhihi Bay and La Perouse Bay on the southwest shore of East Maui. Both volcanoes are shield volcanoes and the low viscosity of the Hawaiian lava makes the likelihood of large explosive eruptions negligible.
At sea level Maui has a remarkably stable tropical climate with highs in the region of 28 °C (80 to 85 °F) and lows around 20°C (65 to 70 °F); rainfall is greater in the northern hemisphere winter (wet season is November through April). However, because of the two volcanic mountains that dominate the topography, Maui has a very wide range of climatic conditions depending on elevation and whether an area faces toward or away from the prevailing Tradewinds (blowing from the northeast). For example the top of the West Maui mountain receives over 400 inches (10 m) of rainfall per year, whereas Kihei receives less than 10 inches (250 mm), being in the rain shadow of East Maui Volcano (see Orographic precipitation); Kahului airport (the main airport on Maui) has average rainfall of about 19 inches (480 mm), whereas Olinda (upslope from the airport) receives about 73 inches (1.8 m).
Maui has an unusual weather feature known as the Maui vortex, an area of clear sky that often forms over Pukalani due to the swirling of air (a vortex) as it enters the central valley after being forced to move around Haleakalā.
Maui, like the whole of the Hawaiian Islands, has a hurricane season in the late summer and fall, with tropical storms typically approaching from the southeast. Storms initiated by hurricanes or tropical depressions that approach from the southeast are known locally as Kona storms.
Maui welcomed 2,225,060 tourists in 2002. The main tourism centres are Lahaina to Kapalua and Kihei-Wailea, each of which has several luxury resort hotels. Whereas O‘ahu is most popular with Japanese tourists, Maui tends to appeal especially to visitors from the US mainland and Canada.
Maui is a leading whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands due to the fact that many Humpback whales winter in the sheltered ‘Au‘au Channel between the islands of Maui county. The whales migrate approximately 3,500 miles (5,600 km) from Alaskan waters each autumn and spend the northern hemisphere winter months mating and birthing in the warm waters off Maui. The whales are typically sighted in pods: small groups of several adults and one or more calves. Humpbacks are an endangered species protected by U.S. federal and Hawai‘i state law. There are estimated to be about 3000 humpbacks in the North Pacific.
Among the many features on Maui popular with tourists are the "Road to Hāna" (the drive from the central valley to Hāna and beyond), the drive up to Haleakalā crater, Makawao (and Maui's Upcountry region), the Ī‘ao Valley, and Lindbergh's grave (near Kaupo on East Maui).
The Maui Chamber of Commerce issues medals, called Maui Dollars, that can be used as currency in local shops and are valued as collectables.
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