Haikuporter uses the Linux way when porting Linux software. Don't place the blame on them, doing anything else would be silly and would force them to rebuild the whole universe whenever there is a security fix in a library used by everyone. This is just unreasonable.
What Haiku tries to do in this context, is bring an OS with a stable API, rich enough that developers don't need to use 3rd party libraries. But this, of course, works only for native software.
As a result, the package system was designed to cover the needs of native software, first, and of ported software, when possible. If you install native software, in most cases there will be few dependencies and you can get away with just one hpkg file. The stable ABI also means we can update things software depends on, without a rebuild (as an example of this, see how it's possible to add translators to add support for new picture formats in existing apps).
So, the blame for dependency hell is on Linux developers. The team at HaikuPorts is just doing its best to get these things running.
And a final note: the nightly images are meant for development purposes, and are kept small to speed up the process of downloading and installing them. When we ship the beta (like we did for the alphas), we will include a lot more software and build an image that fills a CD. So there will be a lot more included than in the nightlies, making the OS more usable out of the box.