To be fair, being hit less hard than the mainland of the United States isn't exactly anything to brag about. LOTS of places were less effected than the US. "Hit less hard than the US" is a very low bar.
Strike that. Reverse it. He's comparing to New Zealand. Saying you got hit harder than some of the least-affected places on the globe is not saying you got hit hard.
It might not be much compared to mainland USA but it's not close to normal.
Hawaii's death rate was about 4% higher than normal due to covid. That is, in fact, not far from normal.