Bring Back Our Beach!

Oahu, Kauai and Maui are outlined by nearly 170 miles of sandy beaches, but about 70 percent of them are slowly shrinking from erosion, storms and a rising sea, according to a USGS report. Hawaii has the technology and expertise to rebuild those beaches, but what we usually lack are two things: the right sand and the money to pay for it all.

Hawaii has been looking for sand since the 1960s, says Scott Sullivan, VP for Sea Engineering Inc., which has worked on beach nourishment projects in Waikiki, Poipu and Iroquois Point. While Hawaii’s beach sand is not unique, he says, it’s also not the most common. Our sand is predominantly made from ground-up shells, coral and algae – the scientific name is calcium carbonate.

To read more, go to:


Hawaii Loves Horses


People who work with horses in Hawaii agree on two things: It’s a tough way to make a living and a great way to make a living. Tough, because the costs of importing and feeding horses are high and the financial returns are usually low, but great because you spend your day with animals you love.

The most recent USDA Census reported Hawaii had 5,114 horses and ponies in 2012, down from 6,547 in 2007, but well above every other equine census since at least 1992. Horses were originally brought to the Islands to help Hawaiians herd cattle. While they still do that, many horses serve today by giving trail rides and riding lessons, and performing in rodeos and polo matches.

To read more, go to:

Storm Warning: Hawaii Buildings Not Up to Code


Almost everyone living in Hawaii in 1992 can still remember the devastation left by Iniki, which came ashore on Kauai as a Category 4 hurricane. It took more than a decade for the Garden Island to fully recover.

That’s why it’s troubling that Hawaii’s building code only requires new structures to be built to withstand a Category 3 hurricane. Most Mainland states base their codes on a more recent and stricter version of the International Building Code, including many states that have not been hit by any hurricanes in modern times.

One day last summer, Hawaii had three “Category 4 hurricanes in our neighborhood,” says Gaur Johnson, assistant professor of structural engineering at UH Manoa. Knowing that “our building code is intended to design for a Category 3 storm, I was extremely worried.”

To read more, go to:

We May Love Opihi Too Much

This article appeared in the May 2014 issue of Hawaii Business magazine.

Like most things, the price of opihi often depends on supply and demand – and the supply is inconsistent, especially on Oahu. Some people, such as state Sen. Clayton Hee, are worried that overharvesting is hurting the long-term sustainability of the local delicacy.

Opihi are sea snails that cling to wave-swept rocks on the Hawaiian Islands, making them accessible to anyone who is sure-footed and brave. Some people collect opihi for their own use, but to sell opihi legally, you need a commercial marine license from the state, which costs $50 a year for residents. Licensed opihi harvesters were paid an average of about $7 to $9 a pound from 2011 to 2013, according to state records.

Cultural researcher Shauna Kehaunani Springer says opihi are important to the Hawaiian culture as they are found in the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant, as well as in stories, songs and proverbs.


To read more, go to:

What Would It Cost to Provide Government Services in English and Hawaiian?

This was published in the June 2014 issue. 

Hawaiian and English are both official languages of Hawaii, but most government services are available just in English. We tried to find out what it would cost for the state to provide most of its services in both languages.

Hawaiian was made an official state language by an amendment to the state constitution in 1978, but, 36 years later, very few state government services are offered in Hawaiian.

However, the governor’s office says it is looking into forming an informal group that would consider how to transition to offering more state services in Hawaiian and what that would cost. Hawaii Business talked with several Hawaiian language experts and no one was able to estimate the cost of widely offering state services in Hawaiian.

To read more, go to:


The “Economics of Hula” Seems Like an Oxymoron

This article appeared in the May 2014 issue of Hawaii Business magazine.

There are many reasons to launch a hula halau, but getting rich has never been one of them. That is just as true in Hawaii as it is the many places around the world where halau have sprung up.

The absence of money is part of hula’s charm: Though a few people make a living from hula, for most people it is a labor of love.

“People love the halau, they love the hula,” says Chaminade business professor John Steelquist, who has friends in the hula business.

“They are not a place I’d go to make a lot of profit, but that’s not the point,” he says. “The point is the benefit is to the participants, the benefit is to the whole society in Hawaii and in the world.”

Halau are a different kind of business – and probably should not even be called that. They often last for a long time because they are self-sustaining and low cost, Steelquist says.

To read more, go to

Hawaii Universities Attract a Global Student Body

This was published in the May 2014 issue. 

Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific, so it’s not surprising that its universities attract students from Asia and the Pacific Islands. What may astonish you are the number of students who come here from Europe, the Mideast, Africa and other far-flung places.

Almost a thousand Japanese are studying in universities here, but so are at least five students from Tanzania, 22 from Saudi Arabia and three from Cameroon. In the 2012-13 school year, Hawaii Pacific University had 210 students from Norway – almost as many as the school had from Japan, China and Korea combined.

Though the vast majority of students on UH’s 10 campuses are local or from the mainland U.S., during the fall 2013 semester, the student body included the citizens of 94 foreign countries – that’s almost half of the 195 nations recognized by the U.S. State Department. Brigham Young University-Hawaii is also like the United Nations: Almost half of its students during the fall 2013 semester came from 76 foreign countries.

In total, there are 4,450 foreign students attending universities and colleges in Hawaii, according to the Institute of International Education.

To read more, go to: