Following a brief and successful experiment in planting pineapple on Lāna‘i, by Charles Gay, James Dole, president of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, purchased the island of Lāna‘i for $1.1 million dollars in 1922. In 1923, he sent engineers to begin the design of Lāna‘i City, the Kaumālapa‘u Harbor, fields, and facilities which would support the envisioned pineapple plantation. Between 1923 and 1925, the city was laid out. It included houses (for individual families and group homes for single men); a hospital dispensary; a theatre; stores; churches; a hotel; offices; and labor yards. Outlying plantation camps, overlooking Pālāwai, at Miki, Quarry Camp and Kaumālapa‘u, were also built. The Kaumālapa‘u Harbor was also built during this time. As this work was going on, and housing became available, tracts of land in Pālāwai were being cleared of stones and boulders both by hand and with livestock, and then planted in pineapple.
In 1926, James Dole and a large group of island politicians and business backers visited Lāna‘i. They were greeted by the new residents of the island, who were mostly of Japanese origin. By 1930, the population of plantation employees and their families included 965 Japanese, 867 Filipinos, 102 Koreans, 82 Puerto Ricans, 78 Chinese, 46 Caucasians, and 43 Portuguese. There was also a population of 173 Hawaiians, mostly representative of the old native families, but few were working directly for the plantation (cf., Tabrah, 1976).
By 1946, 14,000 acres of land on Lāna‘i were under cultivation in pineapple. In 1947, the population was set at 3,441. In the years following World War II, almost all immigration, except for Filipinos, stopped. Camps within Lāna‘i City, once organized by ethnic groups started to blend together. The company made housing available in fee-simple interest to employees, and the plantation families settled in, making Lāna‘i their home.
Photograph Courtesy of the Hera Family. In collection of the Lāna‘i Culture & Heritage Center.
Families of the Filipino Federation of America – Lāna‘i Branch (ca. 1942).Supporting the War Bond efforts of the United State of America.
Stories researched and prepared by Kepā & Onaona Maly
Lāna`i Culture & Heritage Center