Students visit to honour Hastings’ Hawaiian connection

Hastings cemetery was the destination for a group of Hawaiian students visiting the town recently.

The group from the University of Hawaii are in England to study archives relating to an education programme instigated by Hawii’s former King, King Kalakaua.

They were met at Hastings station by Mayor Nigel Sinden who, along with Anne Scott and Marylin Saklatval from Friends of Hastings Cemetery accompanied the group on its visit to the grave of Dr Matthew Everard Puakahakoililanimanuia Makalua, who is buried there.

Mayor with group at station
The visiting students from the University of Hawaii, with Mayor of Hastings Nigel Sinden, and Anne Scott and Marylin Saklatval from Friends of Hastings Cemetery.

Dr Makalua was a recipient of the grant funding started by King Kalakaua at the end of the 19th century to enable young Hawaiians to study in Great Britain. King Kalakaua met Thomas and Annie Brassey during the voyage of the ‘Sunbeam’ and later visited them and Hastings in 1881 when on his world tour.

Matthew Makalua came to England in 1882 and started at a prep school before training as a doctor, he was the first native Hawaiian to qualify as a doctor. Once qualified he came to practice in St Leonards, in Pevensey Road at number 37. He met and married Annie Clementina Dewar, the daughter of Rev David Erskine Dewar and his wife Elizabeth on August 27th 1888.

Dr Makalua was a highly respected man and was noted for his philanthropy; both he and his wife Annie were concerned with the welfare of the poor. He originated the scheme to collect tinfoil for the Druid’s Tinfoil Cot in the Royal East Sussex Hospital. He was medical officer of the L.G.O.C. (London General Omnibus Company) Convalescent home, Caple-ne-Ferne. Dr Makalua never returned to Hawaii. He died in 1929.

The mayor said, “It was an honour to be part of this very moving ceremony at the graveside of Dr Makalua. The students brought water and sand from Hawaii and covered the grave with the Hawaiian flag [the only American state to have the flag of a foreign country on it, in this case our Union flag] and masses of flowers while they sang Hawaiian songs.”

The grave of Dr Makalua in Hastings cemetery.

The party then headed to the seafront as they told their hosts how they missed ‘The ocean’, however they decided not to take a dip in the chillier waters of the English Channel!

If you want to know more about Dr Makalua you can find him on www.friendsofhastingscemetery website.


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