Using stratigraphic archaeology and refinements in radiocarbon dating, studies suggest it was about 900-1000 AD that “Polynesian explorers first made their remarkable voyage from central Eastern Polynesia Islands, across the doldrums and into the North Pacific, to discover Hawai‘i.” (Kirch)
The motivations of the voyagers varied. Some left to explore the world or to seek adventure. Others departed to find new land or new resources because of growing populations or prolonged droughts and other ecological disasters in their homelands. (PVS)
Early settlement patterns in the Islands put people on the windward sides of the islands, typically along the shoreline. Settlement patterns tended to be dispersed and without major population centers.
Most of the makaʻāinana (common people) were farmers, a few were fishermen. Tenants cultivated smaller crops for family consumption, to supply the needs of chiefs and provide tributes.
Fishermen and their families living around the bays and the beaches, or at isolated localities along the coast where fishing was practicable, led a life that was materially simpler than that of planters who dwelt on the plains.
There was no term for village. The typical homestead or kauhale consisted of the sleeping or common house, the men’s house, women’s eating house, and storehouse, and generally stood in relative isolation in dispersed communities.
The terrain and the subsistence economy naturally created the dispersed community of scattered homesteads. It was only when topography or the physical character of an area required close proximity of homes that villages existed.
Where conglomerations of homesteads existed, they were not communities held together either by bonds of kinship or economic interdependence.
A spring (or springs) was sometimes the reason for a village-like conglomeration of homesteads. “But it is along and in the streams which rush through the bottoms of these narrow gorges that the Hawaiian is most at home.”
“Go into any of these valleys, and you will see a surprising sight : along the whole narrow bottom, and climbing often in terraces the steep hillsides, you will see the little taro patches, skillfully laid so as to catch the water, either directly from the main stream, or from canals taking water out above.” (Nordhoff, 1874)
Fishermen and their families living around the bays and the beaches, or at isolated localities along the coast where fishing was practicable, led a life that was materially simpler than that of planters who dwelt on the plains. Small bays generally had a cluster of houses where the families of fishermen lived.
The true community in which sundry homesteads were integrated by socio-religious and economic ties was the dispersed community of ʻohana. This word signifies relatives by blood, marriage, and adoption.
In the course of native settlement, as the early Hawaiians spread from fishing sites on the shore to inland areas and fanned out over the plains and hills from original centers of settlement, households with ties of relationship became scattered.
Some located on upland slopes (ko kula uka,) some on the plains toward the sea (ko kula kai,) and some along the shore (ko kaha kai.) Neighborly interdependence, the sharing of goods and services, naturally resulted in the settling of contiguous lands by a given ʻohana rather than in a scattering over an entire district.
In this way there came to be an association of particular ʻohana with the land units later designated as ahupua‘a. Within a given ahupua‘a the heads of the respective ʻohana were responsible for seeing that their people met the tax levy prescribed by the konohiki, the ali‘i’s land supervisor.
The heads of the ʻohana groups were called haku or haku ‘āina. So far as is known there was no formal procedure involved in the choice of a haku for an ʻohana.
He came by his responsibility through seniority and competence. His authority was a matter of common consent rather than formal sanction; he was not appointed, he was not elected.
There was a high degree of stability or permanence of tenure despite the general turnover of authority and titles to the land whenever a new aliʻi came into power, owing to the fact that particular ʻohana enjoyed the rights of occupancy and use and faithfully fulfilled their obligations.
In many cases their ancestors had pioneered the area and cultivated it since the earliest era of Hawaiian settlement. Actually it was to the advantage of an aliʻi to maintain the occupancy of diligent cultivators of the land.
Thus the kauhale, the homesites of established ʻohana, were permanent features of the landscape, and the vested interest of any given family was equivalent to a title of ownership, so long as the landsman labored diligently to sustain his claim and was loyal to his aliʻi.
People identify themselves not just with the chiefdom (moku,) but with the ahupua‘a which was their homeland. This was true throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
This loyalty to locality, the identification of persons with family or ʻohana and with the ‘āina that nourished the ʻohana is an attitude that was ingrained. (The information here is from Handy & Handy with Pukui.)