Macao, also spelled Macau, is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Macao lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong to the east, bordered by Guangdong Province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east and south.
Macao was the gateway for all Americans going to China to trade legally. It was the first stop upon arriving in China and the last stop before returning home. Macao became the center for agents arranging American trade. (Hao, Wang)
Shortly after the arrival of Captain James Cook and his crews in 1778, the Chinese found their way to Hawaiʻi. Some suggest Cook’s crew gave information about the “Sandwich Islands” when they stopped in Macao in December 1779, near the end of the third voyage.
In 1788, British Captain John Meares commanded two vessels, the Iphigenia and the Felice, with crews of Europeans and 50-Chinese. Shortly thereafter, in 1790, the American schooner Eleanora, with Simon Metcalf as master, reached Maui from Macao using a crew of 10-Americans and 45-Chinese. (Nordyke & Lee)
Crewmen from China were employed as cooks, carpenters and artisans, and Chinese businessmen sailed as passengers to America. Some of these men disembarked in Hawai’i and remained as new settlers.
The growth of the Sandalwood trade with the Chinese market (where mainland merchants brought cotton, cloth and other goods for trade with the Hawaiians for their sandalwood – who would then trade the sandalwood in China) opened the eyes and doors to Hawaiʻi.
Macao links to Kamehameha I and Hawaiʻi’s first flag. Hawaiʻi was gradually pulled into the international trading networks, and it was not long before it was discovered that sandalwood there sold well in China. Large qualities of that wood were consumed in China each year for the making of incense. (Hao, Wang)
A few years after Kamehameha consolidated his rule over the Islands, vessels engaged in trade with Manila and Macao started to arrive (whose captains assured Kamehameha and the chiefs that the fragrant sandalwood was of great value, and was much in demand in Macao and all other parts of China.)
Therefore, Kamehameha quickly commanded that the mountains of Oʻahu be searched for it, and on being found and brought in it was declared by the foreigners that Hawaii possessed the fragrant wood. Traders took the sandalwood to Canton and Macao, and brought back various kinds of cloth prints, cotton, mixed piece goods and clothing. (Kamakau, Thrum)
“The King, wanting a ship to sail to China to sell Sandalwood, searched along with John Young, Isaac Davis, and Captain Alexander Adams of Kalihi, who is still living, for a Flag for the ship. It was a man-o-war, called the Forrester, carrying sixteen guns. Kamehameha I owned the ship.” (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, January 1, 1862)
“When the Flag was completed, the ship sailed to Macao. The Flag was puzzled over, and was not accepted as a National Flag. The ship was charged exorbitantly for harbor fees, the Sandalwood was sold for a loss, and the ship returned to Hawaiʻi. The King learned of this loss, and he said that a tax should be placed on the harbor of Honolulu like those of foreign lands. That is when duty was first charged for the harbor. (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, January 1, 1862)
Hawaiʻi has further links to Macao – an ahupuaʻa in Koʻolauloa on Oʻahu is named such – however, it’s spelled Mākao.
Ships traveling from China to Hawaiʻi often sailed out of Macao near Canton, and the name was associated with the former Chinese farming community. Chinese farmers lived and grew rice there. (Ulukau)
The earliest written account found was recorded in 1828 by Levi Chamberlain, who journeyed around the island of O‘ahu to inspect the newly forming school system in the Kingdom. Chamberlain noted:
“… I commenced the examination of the schools belonging to Punaluʻu & the two adjoining districts, three in number; which occupied the whole of the forenoon. At one o’ clock pm we were ready to set forward. The first place at which we stopped was Kaluanui, where was a small school which we examined. Here the burdens of our baggage-carriers were increased by the present of a baked pig, some potatoes & taro. Leaving this place we walked on to Mākao a place so named from the town of Macao in Canton, as the head man told me, on account of its being a place where much tapa is made.” (Chamberlain, HHS)
“Canton & the Chinese empire is by the natives called Mākao, for this reason: Vessels which arrive here from Canton usually anchor at Macao and there take in their cargo which is sent down from Canton. As the ships are commonly spoken of as having come from Macao, the natives, therefore, from the facility with which they can pronounce the word, it being similar to one which they have in their own language, have given the name of Macao to the whole country.” (Chamberlain, HHS)
As trade expanded, Hawaiians went to Macao and Canton, and Chinese went to Hawaiʻi and the US from Macao, which impacted both places. Hawaiʻi became a major provisioning depot for ships sailing the Pacific, as well as a source of sandalwood to market in China.
By the 1830s, American missionaries were active in both Hawaiʻi and Macao. Macao, Hawaiʻi and Sino-American trade were so intertwined to each other that a change in one could have a corresponding affect on the others. (Hao, Wang)
By the mid-1850s, the Chinese population in Koʻolauloa was growing, and many of the landowners and lessees leased their lands to Chinese for portions of their lo‘i kalo and kula, on which rice could be planted and irrigated. Between the 1870s to 1900, rice was the primary product of the land, followed by kalo. (Maly)
In the late-1890s, Mākao was owned by Dr Albert B Carter (land in Mākao was previously owned by WC Lane.) Carter had “retired from active practice as a physician and occupies nearly all of his time in practical scientific agriculture and systematic research. … On his little plantation – it consists altogether of some five or six hundred acres of good, fertile land – the doctor raises almost everything imaginable ….” (Hawaiian Gazette, July 17, 1900)
“There are enough papaias (papayas) grown in Mākao to supply Honolulu steadily. This refreshing fruit or vegetable is eaten as a melon, boiled as a squash, cooked into pies, fried into fritters, stewed into jam or preserved as sweet or sour pickles. What the doctor’s family cannot devour proves a most fattening food for the porkers.” (Hawaiian Gazette, July 17, 1900)
When Carter’s wife died in 1903, Supreme Court Records (1908) note that about 45-acres of rice land (under lease to Wing Chong Wai Co,) 105-acres of kula and mountain land mauka of the rice land and about 26-acres known as the homestead at Mākao were in her estate.
Carter moved. ” … Mākao with its long low buildings and grove of cocoanuts, (is) the place looking as though it were going rapidly to rack and ruin. Here it was that Dr. Carter, scholar, dreamer and experimentalist, made his home until overtaken with the affliction which necessitated his movement elsewhere. He sunk a fortune in Mākao and watched the complicated network of his schemes raveled and finally blown away by the gusts of fate.” (Hawaiian Star, December 4, 1909)
“Adjacent to Mākao is Hauʻula, considered by many to be the prettiest spot on the Island of Oʻahu. Here are the government homesteads, peopled by happy families of Hawaiians, here are the famous falls of Kaliwaʻa, and here is as fine bathing as can be found In the Territory.” (Hawaiian Star, December 4, 1909)
“The extension of the railway from Kahuku to Kahana has helped the district wonderfully. New houses are springing up, old ones have been repaired and houses long deserted are again peopled by families who forsook the country for town and who have come back to the land again. There is a very good store at Hauʻula today and visitors can be put up very comfortably and at a reasonable rate by Mr Aubrey, the station agent and proprietor of the store.” (Hawaiian Star, December 4, 1909)
DBEDT GIS data notes Mākao ahupuaʻa (and another small ahupuaʻa Kapaka) is a sliver between Hauʻula (N) and Kaluanui (S.) (Today, a Mormon Church is in the center of the coastal area of the Mākao ahupuaʻa – Hauʻula Elementary School is just to the north of Mākao.)
The image shows the Mākao ahupuaʻa in Koʻolauloa (Google Earth.)