The Paniolo Hall of Fame, established by the O‘ahu Cattlemen’s Association in 1999, is an exclusive “club” of men and women who have made outstanding contributions to keeping the paniolo heritage and culture alive. Members are Founders, Ranch Managers or Ranch Hands from the past and present, nominated bi-annually by family, friends and colleagues.
There were 13 members in the inaugural “Class of 1999,” including five from O‘ahu, three each from Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island and two from Maui, although many of them worked at more than one ranch on more than one island. They are: Abraham Akau, George K. A‘i Sr., Harold Sung Wa Aiu, Albert Silva, Ikua Purdy, Eddie Rice, Martin Knott, Sr., Alexander Alika Akau, Sr., Dr. Max B. Smith, Ron Brun, David Kaluhiokalani, Masa and Shima Kapahu.
The very first inductee was perhaps Hawaii’s most famous paniolo, Ikua Purdy, who—with Jack Low and Archie Ka‘aua—dominated Frontier Days World Championship Roping Competition in Cheyenne Wyoming in 1908. Purdy is also a member of the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, the first Hawaiian to be inducted. Learn more about Ikua Purdy’s statue in Waimea.
Jack’s brother and Archie’s half-brother Eben Parker Low is also in the Paniolo Hall of Fame, Class of 2005. Great grandson of John Palmer Parker, Low worked for Parker Ranch in his youth, became manager of Pu’uhue Ranch at age 26, and founded Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Ranch with Robert Hind in 1894. In 1907 he attended the Rodeo in Cheyenne, and knew his ropers could excel there. The next year, he sent the three famed paniolo to “Waiomina,” and the rest is history.
Another Class of 1999 inductee, Abraham Akau, worked at Parker Ranch and Kualoa, devoting many years to ranching life. Abraham, who started at the age of 15, says “I got into that breaking pen and I just loved it. The wilder they came, the better.” He continued to work for almost 50 years.
Since the beginning, the Paniolo Hall of Fame has grown to 155 members from across the islands, with Uncle Jimmy DuVauchelle, Class of 2000, as the solo representative from Molokai. Six hall-of-famers are women (see Nā Paniola), but so far no horses! These esteemed members include founders and managers of Hawaii’s most historic ranches, patriarchs of multi-generation paniolo families, and others still working their ranches today, with surnames from around the world: Hawaiian, Portuguese, Japanese, European.
The PHOF Class of 2019 has already been selected. However, due to the pandemic, induction ceremonies have been postponed to November, 2022. Nominations are open right now for the 2021 Class, until December 31. Forms and details are available online www.hicattle.org, where you can also find the transcribed Oral Histories from many of the hall-of-famers.
Your Paniolo Preservation Society is proud to host a permanent display of PHOF portraits and bios in our Heritage Center. The Center is open free to the public from Monday, Tuesdays, Thursday from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Wednesday’s and Saturdays from 8:00am to 2:00pm. We are closed on Sundays.
In the coming months, we’ll be featuring a different Paniolo Hall of Famer in each newsletter, hoping to share a little history, along with the special character of these hardworking folks. Please let us know what you think, and if you have stories to include, we’d love to hear them!