Hinalei's parents immigrated from Hawai'i (an independent nation in this universe) and the United States. The two met on the plane ride there and never lost touch thereafter. She was born during a visit to her mother's hometown of Kapa'a.
From youth she enjoyed the good fortune of considerable wealth (for Havaiki residents) and parents interested in her happiness and wellbeing. This meant that she had lots of room to explore wildly diverging interests growing up: when she wanted to learn the violin, they took her to lessons till she decided she was done, and when she decided she wanted to try karate, they paid for all her gear and classes.
She was enrolled at the "upper class" South Town School through elementary and middle school, but she missed the high school sign-up date, and by that fluke, was forced to go for the second-best option.
Hinalei didn't mind starting over from the ground up, but outside of Teruo, her partner-in-crime, none of her old friends from STS returned her efforts at maintaining friendship with enough enthusiasm to make it worthwhile.