Hanahana Hawaii, Hawaii Like a dream So I came But my tears Are flowing now In the cane fields.
- Old Plantation Song
The Hawaiian sugar industry began in 1835 in Koloa, Kauai, bringing unprecedented change to the islands and resulting in the multiethnic society that it is today. At its peak in the early 1900s, there were over 50 plantations statewide. This project was shot between 2008-2009 at the Gay & Robinson Plantation on the westside of Kauai, the last sugar plantation on the island, and at the time, one of only two remaining in the state. Most employees lived as well as worked on the plantation, occupying old plantation houses in the original camps, and forming a unique, tight-knit community - the last remnant of old-style plantation life.
On September 9, 2008, Gay & Robinson Inc. announced that it was ending sugar production, which it began in 1889. The shut down occurred slowly, as the company continued to harvest and grind its remaining crops for another year. Layoffs though, began immediately, beginning with planting, continuing with irrigation and ending with harvesting and milling employees.
On Friday, October 30, 2009, G&R ended sugar production, commemorating the event with a parade through the westside of Kauai that included the last two truckloads of cane.
UPDATE: On December 16, 2016, HC&S on Maui loaded its last load of sugar on the Moku Pahu and shut down sugar operations. King Sugar in Hawaii is officially pau.