With the first cattle arriving in the Hawaiian Islands in 1793 as gifts for King Kamehameha I, it was not long before they overpopulated and plundered the countryside from the mountains to the seashores. Determined to bring them under control and establish a cattle industry, King Kamehameha III sought the services of Mexican vaquero from California.
Arriving in 1833 in full regalia, these Hispanic horsemen not only subdued the wild cattle, but converted native Hawaiians into mounted cattlemen whose natural abilities blended well with riding and roping. They became known as "paniolo," a Hawaiianization of their mentors heritage, "Espanol."
Little did the King realize that from this humble beginning, Hawaiian cowboys would emerge as national champions in their own right in the world of rodeo. Nor could he have predicted that the paniolo would help perpetuate the Hawaiian language.
This monument of Ikua Purdy, a native Hawaiian Parker Ranch cowboy and winner of the World Steer Roping Championship at the 1908 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, is a tribute not only to his co-champions, Archie Ka'au'a and Jack Low, and their sponsor Eben Low, but to all paniolo of the Hawaiian Islands.
This heroic bronze image typifies the life of a Hawaiian cowboy ~ roping a wild bull on the slopes of Mauna Kea ~ as risky a chore then as
it is today.
The lei of bronze brands surrounding the pedestal pays tribute to those families ~ past and present ~ who came from many diverse origins to pioneer ranching in Hawai'i. These ranchers, in concert with the efforts of the Paniolo Preservation Society, memorialize in perpetuity the heritage of our paniolo, the cowboys of the far West.
~ With warm aloha to all who contributed to, and care for this monument and our state's proud paniolo culture.