When people think about Hawai‘i, the idea of a cowboy rarely comes to mind. However, the islands have a rich history associated with the paniolo or Hawaiian cowboy. Paniolo date back to 1798 when Captain George gifted cows to King Kamehameha I from Vancouver. The cows thrived in Hawai‘i soon cattle filled the pastures.
Mexican cowboys, known as vaqueros came to the islands and taught the native Hawaiians their herding skills. The most widely known ranch is the Parker Ranch founded in 1847 on the north side of Big Island of Hawai‘i. John Palmer Parker was the first man that King Kamehameha trusted to hunt wild cattle thus beginning the Hawaiian tradition. Many paniolo today are from several generations of families that have been practicing the tradition for decades.
The paniolo culture will forever be loved and respected part of Hawai‘i heritage that gives us a better understanding of a piece of the islands’ traditions and a better sense of family or ohana.