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A Shared Culture

Hawaii and Madeira have a long and storied history, which would be appropriately commemorated and celebrated by the establishment of a sister state relationship.

Beginning in 1878, immigrants from Madeira began arriving on Hawaii’s shores to work on our sugar cane plantations. In 1879, Manuel Nunes emigrated from Madeira bringing along with him a small guitar-like instrument called a "braguinha," which would become the beloved Hawaiian ʻukulele.


Madeiran immigrant Manuel Nunes, who is credited with introducing the instrument that would become the ʻukulele to the islands.

A contemporary braguinha workshop in Funchal, which still makes instruments in the traditional way.

Throughout the next 30 years, thousands more Portuguese would arrive, roughly half from Madeira.


Looking ahead, there are many opportunities for mutual collaboration and benefit. Specifically, we hope to focus on the areas of culture and education as the primary means of keeping the relationship active and sustainable over the long term:

A sister state relationship would immediately strengthen the Portuguese culture in Hawaii by creating opportunities for Madeiran performers to visit Hawaii and vice versa.


At least two kumu hula have already visited Madeira in the past two years to conduct hula workshops there, including Hawaiʻi Island kumu hula Paul Neves.

As part of our Sister State relationship, various local Portuguese organizations intend to provide support for the efforts of the kumu hula to teach in Madeira, with the intent that a halau be established there. 

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