Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hawaii's Plantation Village - The Tour

I have a special bond with this small, non-profit attraction in Waipahu.  I know the 'story' it tells because my dad worked for 50 years (as a carpenter) at the sugar plantation in Ewa. During my time, growing up on the plantation was idyllic ... lots to do at Tenney Center with its olympic-size swimming pool, track and baseball field, 6-lane bowling alley, tennis court, hardwood-floor gymnasium, Tenney Tavern with burgers and fountain drinks and more.  Hawaii's Plantation Village keeps the memory of this huge and important era in Hawaii's history alive for others to understand and appreciate.  Kamaaina and out-of-state visitors are encouraged to stop by and take the tour that reveals how our multi-cultural roots came to be.

Keeping the heritage alive at Hawaii’s Plantation Village - (the tour)

The era has passed but history buffs know that sugar cane was king in Hawaii for over 100 years and Hawaii’s Plantation Village (HPV) offers a snapshot of what life was like during this formative period.

Similar to visiting other museums, the best way to tour the village is to take a docent-led tour. There is no audio-tour and this is actually good news because most of HPV’s docents have personal experience with life on a sugar plantation and they will offer insights and tell ‘real’ stories of what it was like to grow up on a plantation in Hawai‘i.

The tour starts with a walk through the quaint Goro Arakawa Exhibit Room where you will be introduced to plantation life, circa early 1900’s. You’ll see photographs of a ‘contract’, picture bride, family photos and ledger sheets. There are artifacts like a bull whip, ‘bango’ tags, field worker’s clothing, cane press and more. The newly installed exhibit, “The Portuguese in Hawai‘i” is also on display featuring their history in Hawai‘i, music, clothing, achievements and more. Throughout the exhibit, you are shown the harsh realities faced by the immigrant workers.

Once exiting the museum, you walk through ‘time tunnel’ that transports you back in time. Here, is where the walking tour begins and where you have a chance to explore the collection of 32 original and authentically replicated plantation structures such as workers’ homes of the various ethnic groups, community bath, Chinese cookhouse (on the State Register of historic buildings), barbershop, social hall, Inari Shrine (also on the State Register of historic buildings) plantation store and more. The buildings are furnished with over 3,000 personal artifacts. Nowhere else can you find so many cultural backgrounds blending and contributing to the integrated way of life we know today as Hawai‘i.

Hawaii’s Plantation Village’s volunteer docents lead tours at the start of each hour, Monday through Saturday at 10:00 am. The last guided tour is at 2:00 pm. General operating hours of the Museum are Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Saturday hours are from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Rates valid until June 30, 2010

Adult (general) ... $13.00
Senior (62+ with ID) ... $10.00
Kama'aina/Military (with ID) ... $ 7.00
Youth (4-11 years of age) ... $ 5.00
Children (3 years and under) ... Free

For more information about the Village and the significant period in Hawaii’s history that it represents, visit

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