Proposal set up at Haiku Mill

It’s no secret that Haiku Mill is a spectacular private venue, but did you know it holds an interesting place in Hawaii’s history too? To explain more, we have to take you back in time to the 1800s when the sugar industry reigned supreme.

The Sugar Industry in Hawaii

Before Hawaii became part of the United States and tourism was introduced, agriculture was the state’s leading economic activity. It provided Hawaii’s major sources of employment, tax revenues, and capital through exports.

Sugar was the top crop, and the sugar industry steered Hawaii’s politics and economy for over a century.

Like any industry, sugar had its ups and downs. A few things caused the sugar industry in the Hawaiian islands to explode. In the 1840s, steamships provided a reliable way to transport sugarcane from the islands to the mainland. The California gold rush increased demand.

Production slowed when California became a state in 1850 and created an import tariff that taxed exports of sugar cane and other goods to the United States, but it ramped back up during the American Civil War. Much of the sugar production in the United States occurred in the southern states that seceded from the Union. With the North no longer receiving sugar from the South, the price of sugar during the Civil War rose a staggering 525 percent, from 4 cents a pound in 1861 to 25 cents a pound in 1864.

In 1875, the U.S. made a reciprocity treaty with the Hawaiian Kingdom, eliminating all tariffs on sugar and rice in exchange for Hawaii eliminating all tariffs on cotton and other American products. Eliminating export taxes caused sugar production in Hawaii to skyrocket.

However, the reciprocity treaty laid the groundwork for the Hawaiian islands’ eventual annexation. When the treaty was renewed in 1887, the United States received exclusive rights to enter and establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor.

How Sugar Created Hawaii’s Diversity

A lot of labor is needed to grow, harvest, and process sugarcane. Since the sugar industry required a larger labor force, workers were recruited from overseas. Immigrant workers arrived in waves from China, Japan, and the Philippines. A smaller number of people also came from Korea, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Germany, Norway, Russia, and Spain.

When they arrived, workers were assigned to sugar plantations throughout the islands and given housing separated by ethnic groups. In order to communicate with each other, they created a language called Pidgin English, a blend of all their languages and English, spoken in the present tense with most verbs disregarded. Pidgin is still spoken to this day and was recognized as an official language of Hawaii by the U.S. Census in 2015.

Over 330,000 people came to work the sugar plantations in Hawaii. While many of them returned home once their contracts were up, thousands remained in the islands, sharing their cultures and creating the melting pot that Hawaii is today.

Sugarcane continued to be Hawaii’s main economy, employing one out of every 12 people in Hawaii, until it started to decline in 1959. This is when Hawaii became a state, and the U.S. started to market Hawaii as a tourist destination.

History of Haiku Sugar Mill

The Hawaiian islands are formed from volcanic mountains, some of which are still considered active. Due to the rugged terrain and the nature of soil, only certain low lands near coasts are tillable. Therefore, Hawaii’s sugar companies were all located along the coastlines of the four largest islands, extending into the foothills and upward along mountain slopes.

Haiku is located on the north shore of Maui, approximately 14 miles (22.5 km) east of Kahului. These days, the town of about 8,500 is mostly inhabited by locals, and visitors usually only breeze through when starting their journey on the Road to Hana. However, Haiku was once a hub of sugar production.

The Haiku Sugar Company started in 1858 and was the first sugar enterprise in Hawaii to raise capital through stock. The construction of Haiku Sugar Mill was completed in 1861 and became the first to process sugarcane using a steam engine, cutting edge technology for its time.

Haiku Sugar Mill was the leading sugar processor on Maui for eighteen years, from 1861 to 1879.

The construction of an irrigation system from 1876 to 1878 allowed water to be transported from the wet slopes of Haleakala to the fertile but dry plains of the central Maui isthmus. The increased water flow allowed sugar production to be moved and Haiku Sugar Mill was subsequently abandoned in 1879.

Restoration of Haiku Mill

The abandoned sugar mill was left to deteriorate for over one hundred years. By the time it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, only the stone walls remained and they were overgrown with vegetation.

Inspired to preserve this piece of Hawaiian history, Sylvia Hamilton-Kerr purchased the property and embarked on a journey to restore the ruins of the old sugar factory to the enchanting hidden gem it is today.

Design of the space took cues from its past and the surrounding land. The Haiku area of Maui is lush and green. Instead of fighting this, vines were encouraged to drape the walls. Greenery is prevalent throughout the property and inside the Mill itself, giving magical secret garden vibes.

Vines drape Haiku Mill, a beautiful private venue on Maui that used to be a sugar factory

Restoration was also influenced by the unpretentious lifestyle of the south of France. Antique cast iron columns hold up a glass ceiling that lets in light and keeps you covered in case of rain. A beautiful chandelier hangs above the picturesque proposal spot.

Vines creep over the antique stairs at Haiku Mill

French antiques give Haiku Mill an Old World European vibe

The result is the perfect combination of rich Hawaiian history combined with Old World European elegance nestled in the tropical jungle of Maui. Upon its transformation, the property was given the simpler name of Haiku Mill, also known as Pua Le’a or “blossoming passion” in Hawaiian.

Why We Love Haiku Mill Proposals

If you’ve read everything above, you’ll understand why Haiku Mill is so special and one of a kind. Years of hard work went into transforming the old ruins into a beautiful open-sky cathedral.

Haiku Mill is a private venue, which means when you choose a Haiku Mill package for your proposal, the space is reserved especially for you. This makes Haiku Mill a top contender for anyone who wants an intimate proposal without other people around.

Our directions for proposing at Haiku Mill are pretty simple. You walk into the Mill and get down on one one knee under the chandelier.

Proposal under the chandelier at Haiku Mill

Planning a proposal can be a nerve-wracking time. We’re here to help with all the planning and alleviate your stress, but sometimes nerves can be hard to shake. If you feel like you might be a nervous wreck, having a location with simple instructions like Haiku Mill might help you feel better.

Haiku Mill is naturally stunning and doesn’t need any extra decor. However if you want to add flowers to your proposal, Haiku Mill is a blank space that is easy to dress up.

Flowers and candles adorn the stairs at Haiku Mill

One thing to note though, is due to the age and history of the structure, nothing can be affixed to the structure and we can’t do anything too risky. For example, we once had a client who was interested in a soccer-themed proposal. This wasn’t a good fit for Haiku Mill because of the risk of a wayward soccer ball causing damage.

The layout of the property also allows us to incorporate surprises before or after the proposal.

For Rich’s proposal to Bao, he arranged for her sisters and best friend to be waiting at Haiku Mill before their arrival. We had a table and chairs set up for the couple to sit at before they entered the Mill. One by one, Bao’s loved ones surprised her with different colored roses and a letter from Rich. Each color of roses had a symbolism explained in his letters.

After each person handed Bao their letter and roses, they went into Haiku Mill, using a separate entrance so they could witness the proposal from above.

When it was time to propose, Rich led Bao into Haiku Mill where a violinist played in the background when he got down on bended knee on a scattering of red rose petals.

Loved ones wait to give a surprise before proposal at Haiku Mill

Bao cries seeing one of her sisters surprise her before proposal at Haiku Mill

Bao and Rich sit at a table and smile at their next surprise

One of Bao's sisters hugs her before her proposal

Bao and Rich both wipe away tears

Rich surprised Bao a card and with her loved ones presenting different roses

Rich and Bao walk to the proposal area at Haiku Mill as her loved ones watch from the balcony

Rich and Bao's proposal at Haiku Mill had loved ones watching and a violinist

Rich proposed to Bao at Haiku Mill on red rose petals with a violinist playing

Bao is overjoyed with Rich's proposal at Haiku Mill

Rich proposes to Bao at Haiku Mill with red rose petals and violinist

Family and friends witness proposal at Haiku Mill

Rich and Bao hug after she says yes to his Haiku Mill proposal

Couple kisses and hugs after she accepts his proposal at Haiku Mill on Maui

Rich and Bao pose with her sisters and best friend who flew out to surprise her before Rich proposed at Haiku Mill

Loved ones hold the letters and roses they gave to Bao before she got engaged

Closeup of loved ones holding the letters and roses they gave to Bao before she got engaged

Engagement ring and roses

Rich kisses Bao on the temple as they sit on the steps at Haiku Mill

Bao and Rich touch noses and smile as they stand surrounded by greenery at Haiku Mill

Rich and Bao kiss in front of a wall of dark green foliage

Bao and Rich lean on a doorway at Haiku Mill, linking arms and smiling at each other

Rich and Bao dance on red roses petals with chandelier overhead at Haiku Mill

Rich dips and kisses Bao after their dance

Josh and Kimi came to Maui from Oahu. Since they live on Oahu and there’s no shortage of pretty beaches there, Josh knew he wanted something different for his proposal location. She thought they were flying over for a Maui adventure, but he actually planned the trip around when he could propose at Haiku Mill.

Josh wanted to incorporate this gorgeous ring box filled with roses that looked and smelled amazing. Since we have a policy of not handling the engagement ring, we came up with a way to use the box without putting Kimi’s engagement ring inside.

He led Kimi into the Mill and to the floral ring box where Kimi read a note asking her to dance. Once she read the note, Josh opened the ring box to take out a bluetooth speaker that was already paired to his phone. He started playing “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. They danced together for a minute and he proposed during the song.

Josh left Kimi a note to read before his Haiku Mill proposal

Josh and Kimi heading over to read his note

Kimi is opening the box that contains a note for her to read before Josh proposes

Josh leads Kimi to start dancing

Kimi and Josh reach out their arms to start dancing at Haiku Mill

Josh spins Kimi in during dance before proposal

Josh dips Kimi under the chandelier at Haiku Mill

Josh and Kimi kiss before he pops the question at Haiku Mill

Josh proposes to Kimi at Haiku Mill

Josh kneels on a bed of red rose petals to ask Kimi to marry him

Josh asks Kimi to be his wife while visiting Maui's Haiku Mill

Josh brings out the ring box to propose to Kimi at Haiku Mill

Josh proposes to Kimi at Haiku Mill and she covers her mouth with her hands

Kimi smiles as she sees her new engagement ring

Kimi and Josh kiss at Haiku Mill after she accepts his proposal

Kimi and Josh smile when she realizes Josh hired a proposal photographer

Josh leads Kimi up the stairs at Haiku Mill during their engagement session

Kimi holds the railing at Haiku Mill and shows off her engagement ring

Kimi holds Josh's cheek and they touch noses and smile at each other

Kimi sits in a windowsill and Josh nuzzles her neck to make her laugh

Josh puts his arm around Kimi and she holds that hand as they walk and laugh

Josh dips Kimi under the mango tree at Haiku Mill

Aron and Julia are a blended family. He has two boys and she has two girls. They have a daughter together and another baby on the way.

Aron proposed to Julia with the kids watching, but it was also important for him to ask Julia’s daughters if he could officially be part of the family. After some family portraits, Aron proposed to the girls with their own rings. It was the sweetest!

Aron proposes to Julia at Haiku Mill with all their kids in tow

Julia is shocked when Aron proposes at Haiku Mill

Julia's daughters run over after Aron proposes

Kids react to parents' engagement at Haiku Mill

Blended family proposal at Haiku Mill on Maui

Aron proposed to Julia's two daughters

Julia's daughters accept Aron's proposal to them

Aron puts rings on Julia's daughters

Julia's daughter show off he rings Aron gave them

Julia and her daughters all got rings

Kids cheese at the camera while mom and dad kiss on the side

Julia and Aron kiss and hold her pregnant belly

Aron and Julia stand on rose petals and wait for kids to throw more petals

Aron and Julia stand in the middle as kids throw rose petals from the sides

Aron and Julia kiss as rose petals that kids threw fall over them

Baby daughter sits in red rose petals wearing a lei

Our Proposal Packages at Haiku Mill

Engaged on Maui has two proposal packages designed for Haiku Mill – our Haiku Mill Mini and Haiku Mill Deluxe.

The Haiku Mill Mini package is meant for a proposal and short engagement session at the Mill. The 30 minute time span is just long enough to enjoy all the beauty Haiku Mill has to offer.

Laura and Griffin walk into Haiku Mill

Griffin proposes to Laura as she claps

Griffin gets down on one knee at Haiku Mill and she holds his hands

Far shot, from beyond the doorway, of Griffin proposing to Laura at Haiku Mill

Wide shot of Griffin popping the question at Haiku Mill

Griffin proposes at Haiku Mill and puts the ring on Laura's finger

Laura and Griffin all smiles after she accepts his Haiku Mill proposal

Laura and Griffin embrace and kiss after she says yes to his Haiku Mill proposal

Griffin points out his secret proposal photographer at Maui's Haiku Mill

Laura reacts to seeing her proposal photographer at Haiku Mill

Griffin holds Laura's hand and guides her down the stairs

Griffin and Laura kiss at Haiku Mill surrounded by plants

Couple embrace on the ground of Haiku Mill and they are captured from afar through a vine draped window

Griffin and Laura put their foreheads together as she wraps her hand around his neck and he wraps his hand around her waist

Griffin and Laura sit on the stairs at Haiku Mill's Cane House

Griffin and Laura sit on the stairs at the Cane House at Haiku Mill

Griffin lifts Laura and they kiss at Haiku Mill

The Haiku Mill Deluxe package is the best of both worlds. With this package, you get 1.5 hours of time and two locations. You can have the privacy and lush grandeur of Haiku Mill for your proposal and end your session at a nearby beach for engagement photos that show off Hawaii.

Jeanette and Allen walk into Haiku Mill

Allen gets down on one knee and places his hand in his pocket to get the ring out

Allen gets down on one knee and starts to bring the ring out of his pocket

Allen proposes at Haiku Mill and shows Jeanette the ring inside the ring box

Proposal at Haiku Mill

Allen proposes to Jeanette at Haiku Mill

Jeanette reacts by covering her mouth with her hand after seeing her proposal photographer at Haiku Mill

Jeanette and Allen kiss on the stairs at Haiku Mill

Jeanette and Allen hold hands in the stairs at Haiku Mill and look sweetly at each other

Jeanette and Allen stand forehead to forehead on the stairs at Haiku Mill

Couple spins around on the dance floor at Haiku Mill

Jeanette and Allen embrace and look into each other's eyes during their engagement session at Haiku Mill

Allen kisses the top of Jeanette's forehead as the stand under the mango tree at Haiku Mill

Allen and Jeanette sit on the steps of the Cane House at Haiku Mill and smile adoringly at each other

Allen kisses Jeanette's hand as they stand in the doorway of Haiku Mill

Newly engaged couple runs away from the waves in Maui

Couple sits on a log at Maui beach with their backs to the camera. He wraps his arm around her back.

Couple sits on a log at Maui beach with their backs to the camera. He kisses her temple.

Couple runs on the beach in Maui

Man carries new fiance while walking in the shore break

Man cradles his new fiance and kisses her while standing on the sand with waves in the background

Man gives his new fiance a piggyback ride on the beach

Man piggybacks his future wife. She kisses his cheek.

Couple holds hands in the shore break

Couple kiss during beach engagement session on Maui

Ready to pop the question at the gorgeous Haiku Mill? Let us help you with that! Fill out our inquiry form to get started!

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