new statue in Waimea commemorates Hawaii’s only
world steer roping champion, Ikua Purdy. The 1908
event was held in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Between snow capped Mauna Kea and the Kohala mountains
the green hillsides of North Kohala roll along under
wispy white clouds, and afternoon rainbows that frequently
stream their way from the skies above Waimea. Inside
this landscape herds of grazing cattle can be seen meandering
their way through sloping pastures filled with cactus
and dry underbrush as Hawaiian cowboys called paniolos
still ride horseback and work the ranges.
on Mauna Kea seen from Waimea.
Ranching began in this region of the Big Island after
King Kamehameha appointed, in 1815, a young seaman named
John Parker to hunt and shoot the herds of wild cattle
whose population had grown uncontrollably since their
introduction to Hawaii in 1793. Parker, who accomplished
his mission, managed to domesticate a herd of his own
before marrying a Hawaiian chiefess. The marriage helped
Parker to acquire the land that would later be used
to found his 250,000 acre ranch in 1847. Today's existence
of Parker Ranch as one of the largest ranches in the
United States gives the outsider an idea of the magnitude
of its size.
Today, the town of Kamuela, more often referred to
after its district name Waimea, is a town that still
surrounds itself with a ranching life-style. The brightly
colored Victorian houses and shops, tidy yards filled
with flowers and skeleton remains of wagons and wheels
gives visitors the opportunity to see yet another sphere
of the diversity of cultures that exist in Hawaii.