PHOTOS: Old Hawai‘i on Horseback Returns After 11-Year Absence

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Barbara Kamilipua Nobriga of Mahealani Ranch wrapping a pa’u skirt for a young rider. PC:

The Paniolo Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the legacy of the Hawaiian cowboy (paniolo), is putting together the final details for the upcoming Old Hawai’i on Horseback event set for Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Waiki‘i Ranch Polo Field.

It has been 11 years since the last Old Hawai’i on Horseback pageant was held. The public is invited to relive Hawai‘i’s rich history through the portrayal of more than 100 men and women dressed in the elegant wear of the monarch, the first missionaries, naval captains, and Hawaiian Island Princesses astride magnificent horses.

Magnificently costumed riders entirely on horseback—many of them among the states most accomplished horseman and horsewomen-will depict historic moments in the state’s ranching history—from the arrival of the first cattle and horses forward to a glimpse of ranching life today.


Open to the public, this presentation of Old Hawai’i On Horseback will culminate an 18-month celebration of Nā Wahine Holo Lio by Paniolo Preservation Society—a celebration inspired by the unheralded role that mothers, wives, grandmothers, great grandmothers, sisters, aunts and Hawaii monarchs such as Queen Emma and Princess Kaiulani played in this important aspect of the Hawai’i economy, culture and lifestyle.

This year’s event will honor Barbara Kamilipua Nobriga of Mahealani Ranch, only one of six women in the Paniolo Hall of Fame. They say she is one of the few women in Hawai‘i who is capable of shoeing her own horse. As the owner and manager of her own ranch, Nobriga’s capabilities go far beyond horseshoeing. As a fourth-generation family member to live, ranch and raise a family on the family land in Kona, Barbara, like her mother, Paniolo Hall of Fame member Kapua Heuer, carries a lifetime of paniolo culture and tradition, inherited and learned. Her exposure to ranch life goes back to her grandmother Nonoe Wall of Kawainui, North Kona, and she remains committed to preserving the paniolo heritage passed on to her.

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Barbara Kamilipua Nobriga of Mahealani Ranch. PC:

Old Hawai‘i on Horseback will also honor the vaquero and their contribution to cowboy traditions with a unit featuring Manuel Gonzales, businessman and trick roper from California and Louis Rincon, renown Waimea strawberry farmer and his family. A significant influence on Hawaiian cowboy history is the Vaquero who were brought to Hawaii by King Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, to stem the rampant devastation of property by wild cattle populations. These Spaniards taught the native population how to rope and manage cattle. Several of them stayed in the Islands, married and raised their families.


Gov. David Y. Ige has also proclaimed Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, as Nā Wahine Holo Lio Old Hawai’i on Horseback Day. A copy of the proclamation will be on display at the Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables.

Attendees will enjoy the legendary sounds of Grammy Award winner John Cruz from 10 to 11a.m. with the pageant beginning at 11 a.m. Food and beverage will be available for sale, including chili, chili dogs, beef stew, Mexican food, shave ice, fried ice cream and much more with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Paniolo Preservation Society.

Commemorative T-shirts will also be available for sale.


Advance tickets for adults are $30 and $35 at the gate. Admission for keiki 12 and under is free. More information and ticket purchasing can be found online or by calling (808) 854-1541.

About Paniolo Preservation Society

To preserve and promote the heritage of the Hawaiian cowboy through the Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables. The Paniolo Preservation Society celebrates the Hawaiian ranching industry and the accomplishments of the generations of paniolo that made that industry possible. Our focus is statewide and represents all cowboys from all of the Hawaiian Islands. PPS is committed to increasing public awareness of the historical, present-day and future significance of Hawai‘i’s ranching industry and the honored traditions of its paniolo.

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