Past Grandma’s Coffee in Keokea, a little ways down the winding road that leads to the unseen parts of the island, is a small park that overlooks everything from Makena to Ma’alaea. It’s the first place with enough space to turn around if you’ve realized you’ve driven too far, and it’s also the site of Sun Yat-sen Park.
The park honors Chinese hero Sun Yat-sen, who led a revolution in the early part of the 1900s against the dynastic ruling power in China. When the Republic of China was established in 1912, he was the first president. Sun Yat-sen passed in 1925, and in 1949 the Republic of China (RoC) was pressed by the rival People’s Republic of China to withdraw to Taiwan, where the RoC still governs.
Kula was a favorite spot for the revolutionary, who spent time on the island planning and preparing for the revolution. The same was true for his brother Sun Mei, who was also a Kula resident and even owned Kahului General Store along with a hundred more properties on Oahu and Maui.
On June 3, the eight-foot statue of Sun Mei was unveiled at the park, to accompany the memorial of his brother Sun Yat-sen. A crowd of about 50 government officials and family members from China and Taiwan were in attendance at the event, which included Mayor Alan Arakawa and members of the Sun family.
“Working together, these two brothers changed the world, and we are proud that they did this from right here in Kula,” said Arakawa according to a June 3 news release. “We hope that Chinese visitors will come to Maui to see these statues and to learn more about the part our island played in their nation’s history. I want to personally convey my gratitude to the Sun Mei family for this beautiful statue.”
According to the release, Sun Mei played an integral part in the revolution by selling his personal assets in order to support Sun Yat-sen.