The Hakkas, along with the Muruts are an essential piece in modern Tenom history.
Modern Sabah in general started in 1881 when British North Borneo Company was established.
The Hakka Chinese first migrated from mainland China to Sabah in groups between 1983 to 1988. At first most of them settled in Kudat. The Basel Church movement propagated the Hakkas to be spread all over Sabah with their missionaries. Tenom’s branch of Basel Church was established in 1912. BCCM Church Tenom can be found right before one enters Tenom town on your left.
Chinese migration were also encouraged by the British as by their estimation, the indigenous people were too few and unsuited to meet the labor requirement for modern development. Their estimate was that in 1881, there were in total between 60,000 to 100,000 populations of Dusuns, Bajaus, Muruts, Idahans etc all combined.
In total early on, there were 3 immigration schemes that the Chinese were brought on - Sir Walter’s Medhurst’s scheme, the Basel Missionary Society Scheme and the Free Passage Scheme.
The Hakkas, Hainans, Cantonese, Teochew and Hailam all came through either this 3 schemes.
The Hakkas are known in Sabah as agriculturist - very knowledgable and talented in farming.
However when the Japanese came to invade from 1942 until 1945, many buildings including schools, mosques and churches were badly damaged up to the point of being unusable. It was the American Lutherans who came to help, and provided monetary aid to hasten up the rebuilding process.Article "LENSA TENOM 05: Introducing Chinese Hakka" by Lensa Tenom