Step back in time to when ‘sugar was King’ in Hawaii. Long before Hawaii became the 50th state, mostly pure Hawaiians roamed the islands. It was an independent Pacific nation. Sadly, foreigners brought with them diseases that nearly decimated the population of true Hawaiians. Rich land owners sought elsewhere for laborers to work their sugar plantations. Hawaii’s Plantation Village takes you on a journey back in time before all of the above happened.
The first immigrant workers came from China between 1823 and reached a peak between 1852 and 1897. The first group of Japanese arrived in 1868, Portuguese in 1878, Puerto Rican 1900, Okinawans in the early 1900s, Koreans 1903 and an influx of Filipinos in 1910. Hawaii is now made up of a mixture of the descendants from these countries.
The increased demand for sugar drove the huge immigration to Hawaii. As a result of the California gold rush, the Civil War and the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875, Hawaii was granted the right to export sugar to the United States duty free. All of these factors returned huge profits to the Hawaiian sugar plantation owners who kept trying to capitalize on the situation.
This labor force was first paid with coupons or scrips, which they could redeem for merchandise at the plantation store. The workers were not recognized by name, but were given metal disks called ‘bango’s with stamped numbers for identification.
Hawaii’s Plantation Village was established to give tourists an experience similar to that lived by the sugar plantations workers. It is an outdoor history museum that tells the story of life on Hawaii’s Sugar Plantations between1850 and1950. The Village includes restored buildings and replicas of Plantation structures, including houses of various ethnic groups and typical community buildings.
Explore a living history museum including the plantation store, community bathhouse, infirmary, manager’s office, and botanical gardens. There are more than 25 authentic plantation structures. Several artifacts from that era including art, clothing and furniture can be found in their original settings. Exotic unusual plants brought by the immigrants can be sampled.
Entrance to the Village is very affordable. A gift shop features cookbooks, toys, hand-made handicrafts and ethnic music. Tours usually last 1.5 hours and are available in English and Japanese on request. Hawaii’s Plantation Village is operated and maintained by the Friends of Waipahu Cultural Garden Park. They strive to ensure that the sacrifices, struggles and contributions of the plantation fore-bearers are acknowledged as the cornerstone of Hawaii’s multicultural society.
Bilingual guides give tours Monday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They share stories of the various cultures that were involved at the sugar plantations. It is a fun, educational way to spend an afternoon with family or guests. The Village is located at 94-695 Waipahu St. Waipahu, Hawaii. You can get more info by visiting their website here.