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Azorean Emigration to Hawaii



The islands, called Sandwich at the time, formed a microscopic monarchy, which lacked autochthonal population and consequently manual work. This led the government to encourage immigration, through the offer of attractive advantages for those whose choice reverted upon Hawaii.


In June 1878, the German ship “Priscilla” left Funchal with 114 Portuguese emigrants on board, mainly “madeirenses” (Portuguese designation for Madeira Island natives) to Hawaii. The ship arrived at Honolulu harbour, the capital of Oahu Island, four months later. This was the first massive Portuguese emigration to a distant destination. Nevertheless, there were already between 400 and 500 Portuguese living in Maui, Ohahu, Kauai and Hawaii, and in very good conditions, as it seemed. They were mostly whalers and whalers’ descendants from the New England fleet, all with Azorean origins.


Between 1878 and 1888 seventeen ships transported 11057 emigrants from Azores and Madeira archipelagos.  They came mostly from Madeira and São Miguel islands, but also from other Azorean islands.


Hawaii is today a State of the North American Union.


Up until 1884, about 6300 Azoreans emigrated to Hawaii, specially “micaelenses”, stimulated by the economical difficulties felt in the archipelago. Emigration to this remote destination specifically characterized a period of the history of the Azores, period that ended in 1813.


The Portuguese Community in general, gut the Azorean in particular, worked in the sugar cane growing, resulting in more emigration.


The Portuguese and Azorean presence in Hawaii is a fact. In spite of today almost no one speaks Portuguese, the Rebelos, the Perestrelos, the Vieiros, Câmaras, Bettencourts, Silvas, Pracanas, Soares, Cardosos, Freitas, Lomelinos are easily found in the phone books in Oahu and other islands. The introduction of “cavaquinho”, the ukulele, local designation, a national musical instrument, is another proof. The “massa sovada” from the Azores, known as sweet bread, the “sopa azeda”, known as Portuguese soup, the “malassada” from S. Miguel known as Hawaiian malassada. The Holy Ghost traditions are still alive (bread, meat and wine to honour the Divine) and the three “Impérios do Espírito Santo” (a kind of chapel to honour the Holy Spirit) in Oahu. The brick houses instead of wood ones are also an heritage from the emigrants who taught the natives how to use the volcanic rocks in these constructions, as well as, to grow flowers around the houses.


There are about eleven Portuguese descendants associations in Hawaii, which study the roots and genealogy of the Azores.



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