Islanders of the Year: Marcus Mariota, Plus 8 Others Who Defined Hawai‘i in 2015

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of our March 2016 cover, plus find out about our decision to reboot the Islanders of the Year.



This month, we’re launching a new edition of Islanders of the Year, our way of shining light on the people shaping our community. Longtime readers of the magazine will remember the Islander of the Year series—we published it every year between 1988 and 2005. With so much happening in Hawai‘i these days, it seemed a perfect time to bring back an old favorite. 


As before, we define an Islander of the Year as the person who made the most impact on Hawai‘i in the past 12 months. This year, instead of naming just one person, we’ve chosen folks from various segments of the community, from government, science, the Native Hawaiian community, the environment, the business of fashion and more. Some are often in the spotlight, others work behind the scenes, but they all share a common thread of making an impact in their area of expertise.


In a few cases, we named more than one individual as an Islander. For example, it was clear that the Native Hawaiian protesters who halted the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project on Mauna Kea made a significant impact, but one driven by a collective voice, rather than any one individual.


 Of course, the Islanders in this story are not the only ones who made an impact in 2015—Hawai‘i is defined by all of its passionate, effective people. We bring attention to these few in hopes that they inspire even greater change in 2016, and the years to come.



Marcus Mariota

Hawaiian Culture

Mauna Kea Protesters


Gov. David Ige


Arts & Culture

Stephan Jost


Jay Shidler 


Lea Hong



Danene Lunn 


Sig & Kūha‘o Zane


Ruth Gates