Great Hungarian communities in the USA: Hawaii

Most people think of Hawaii as a tourist destination, but some are fortunate enough to call these islands their home. And as it turns out, there are thousands of Hungarians living in Hawaii, sending their children to Hungarian schools on the weekends, celebrating Hungarian traditions and organising meetups on the beach. 

Hawaii, as a group of islands, is the 50th state in the United States of America. Hawaii is situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 12,500 km from Hungary, in a time zone where it is 11 hours earlier than in Hungary. 

Many different nationalities are living in Hawaii. The biggest part of the population is Asian. According to the 2010 census, their number is close to half a million, while the total population was 1,3 million at the time. There is some information about the number of Hungarians emigrating to Hawaii between 1950 and 1980, but unfortunately, there is no official data after that. There are, on the other hand, estimates about how many Hungarians were living on the islands between 2011 and 2015.

We know that 3017 individuals identified themselves as Hungarians in this period. Most of them were born in the USA, but in a state other than Hawaii (67%). Most of these Hungarians were living on O’ahu, their number was estimated at 1630. That would mean 0.2% of the population on the island. On the Big Island Hungarians represent about 0.3% of the population.

The number of Hungarians living in the state of Hawaii has been rising since the 1980s, with a small setback in 2000. In 1980, they estimated about 750 people of Hungarian origin living on the islands. This number has risen above 3000 in the past few years. If you would like to see more information about Hungarians on Hawaii, visit this website, where Zsuzsa Szombathy shares her research on this topic.

There are a number of Hungarians living in Hawaii, either permanently or just for a few years, some of them even gave interviews about their experience. Szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu published an article not that long ago about the Bordi family: a young couple working and studying on O’ahu, with two little children. They talk about family, hardships and beautiful weather. 

Another interesting story is about a Hungarian family living off the grid in the jungle of the Big Island of Hawaii. They are living in a small, self-sustaining community. They built their own house; they are growing plants and raising animals. They moved here from Los Angeles in search of a quieter life. They want to set an example for their children, show them another way of life, living in harmony with nature. You can read more about their journey here (in English) or here (in Hungarian).

There are a number of Hungarians in Hawaii, and there are some clubs and organisations that are trying to bring them together on occasion. The Magyar Club was founded in 1972, on the island of O’ahu. At the time it was an officially registered club, nowadays it is more like a meetup group. They get together every Saturday in the Kapiolani Park.

The Hungarian Reformed Church was founded in 2005, with bishop Sándor Szabó leading worships four times a year. Unfortunately, the bishop was flying in from California, the community did not have a local priest that could lead the worship in Hungarian, so it did not last for very long.

There have been many Hungarians on Hawaii, some of them emigrated decades ago. They even managed to get the state to officially recognise the 25th of October as the Hungarian Freedom Fighters’ Day in Hawaii since 1981. Their number is rising every year; it seems like Hungarians are enjoying life in the Aloha State.

If you are interested in other Hungarian groups in the USA, check out our earlier posts:

Hungarian communities in Colorado

Hungarian communities in Boston

Hungarian communities in Cleveland

Hungarian festival in California

Hungarian communities in Florida

Hungarian communities in New York City

Hungarian communities in Texas