A Wave of Change for Haleiwa

Haleiwa had always been one of those places I never thought would change. Growing up, I remember making the long drive out to the North Shore in our minivan, and no matter how we decided to spend our day, my brothers and I could always count on ending it with a refreshing shave ice from Matsumoto’s!

Of course, we weren’t the only ones with that idea. You could always expect to see a long line of customers that spilled out of the shave ice shop and onto the gravel sidewalk, while kids sat giddily on the old bench outside, unfazed by the crowd. They were too busy kicking their little feet to the happy beat of each sugary spoonful that entered their now-colorful mouths.

Everything about Haleiwa has always seemed so simple to me – both as a kid and now as an adult; with its boundaries defined strictly by the two-lane highway and its shops just humbled wooden structures, there was never any sight of change for this little town. it would always be the same ‘ole red-dirt covered, pedestrian-trodden, surfers’ delight that I adored as a kid.

But sadly, there’s a chance that it may lose that very light-heartedness surrounding the town for so many decades. Major plans for redevelopment are in the works for Haleiwa and already, many residents ache for the old. The loss of a few family businesses not only devastated the owners but longtime customers as well.

These changes will no doubt be wonderful for the tourism industry, with new shops and more parking spaces added. But I still wonder how the morale will be for locals and business owners. I think of Lahaina and Poipu and how they’ve changed over the years – from laid-back to booming in businesses at almost all hours of the day. Sadly, a stroll through town feels more like a stroll through a shopping mall, as it has lost a significant amount of its historic appeal.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher