While constituting only about five-percent of the total population of Hawaii, many of those who identify themselves as Chinese can trace their roots in Hawaii back to the mid-1800's.
In fact, following the original Hawaiians, who arrived from Polynesia, and whites who arrived primarily from New England, the Chinese were the next major group to find their way to Hawaii.
By most accounts, Hawaii's first contact with China occurred in 1787 as retold very well in First Chinese in Hawaii. An English merchant stopped in Hawaii on his way from North America to China. He met a chief of Kauaʻi who accompanied him to Canton, China on his trip to trade furs for Chinese goods.
On their return in 1789, he again stopped in Hawaii, bringing with him fifty Chinese carpenters, several of whom are said to have stayed on the Big Island "under the charge of Kamehameha the Great". Other similar reports of small numbers of Chinese settling in Hawaii are reported.
As related in Moon Publication's Big Island of Hawaii Handbook, "No one knows his name, but an unknown Chinese immigrant is credited with being the first person in Hawaii to refine sugar. This Asian wanderer tried his hand at crude refining on Lanaʻi in 1802."
Unfortunately, this initial effort to refine sugar failed. As reported in The First Chinese in Hawaii, "Sugar cane existed on the islands already, but the knowledge of how to refine it and, most importantly, how to make money from it came with those first Chinese in Hawaii."