Our paniolo heritage has always included taking care of the land, the livestock, and most importantly our island community. From its earliest beginnings of Parker Ranch, Hawaii’s first, the paniolo and their families were part of one large ‘ohana, lending a hand when needed, and sharing in the ranch’s bounty.
That tradition continues today, as exemplified by Parker Ranch’s recent donation to The Food Basket Inc., Hawaii Island’s Food Bank for the second year in a row. In 2020, the ranch made the difficult decision to cancel its Annual Fourth of July Rodeo due to public health restrictions, and the kuleana to help keep everyone safe. Instead, they gave a portion of their beef production, three tons of meat, to provide families in need with healthy, natural grass-fed beef.
Dutch Kuyper, President and CEO of Parker Ranch, stated, “Parker Ranch is proud to partner with The Food Basket again this year. The pandemic has impacted nearly all aspects of our local economy. We are hopeful for a strong recovery in Hawaii and want to support those families still in need. Food is an essential need just like shelter and health care. We have seen giving back in this way helps those who have been the most affected during these times. The health and well-being of our community is at the core of our values and mission. I think Richard Smart would have wanted us to give back in this way given that he left the ranch to the Trust for the benefit of health care and education in Waimea and North Hawaii. Our local grass-fed beef continues to see strong demand and excellent acceptance in the market, and we wanted to share some of it in this way with our community.”
In the 1940’s Parker Ranch shared generously with the U.S. military, as some 50,000 troops arrived into Waimea to train for the battle of Iwo Jima. Sixth generation heir Richard Smart leased acreage for Camp Tarawa, and local families welcomed the Marines to town.
Hamburger shops, laundry services, newspaper stands and other businesses opened almost overnight. Waimea townsfolk joined in baseball games, social dances and other activities at Barbara Hall, and did what they could to make the newcomers feel at home. When summertime came around, Parker Ranch invited cowboys from the western states to compete in an exciting rodeo.
To learn more about Camp Tarawa, and the innaugural 4th of July Rodeo, enjoy this article by Gordon Bryson from the classic Waimea Gazette.