Paʻu rider Barbara Nobriga

Barbara Kamilipua Nobriga of Mahealani Ranch

At this year’s Old Hawaii on Horseback, we honor Barbara Kamilipua Nobriga of Mahealani Ranch, one of only six women in the Paniolo Hall of Fame.


Rumor is, Barbara is one of the few women in Hawaiʻi that still prefers shoeing her own horse!


As owner and manager of her own ranch, Barbara’s capabilities go far beyond horseshoeing. Her family has been living, ranching and raising children for 4 generations now on family-owned land in Kona. Barbara, like her Paniolo Hall of Fame member mother Kapua Heuer, carries a lifetime of paniolo culture and tradition, both inherited and learned. She remains committed to preserving that precious heritage passed on to her by her grandmother, Nonoe Wall of Kawainui, North Kona, who first exposed her to ranching.

Barbara wrapping a pa’u skirt for a young rider

Barbara’s use of the Hawaiian language and teaching the old ways of making rawhide, tanning hides, braiding and caring for tack, livestock and the land is how she keeps paniolo traditions alive.  She’s also actively involved in preservation of the historic Pa Nui cattle pen built by Kamehameha the Great, on lands adjoining hers.


As a rancher, Barbara is also committed to stewardship of the land.  Over the past ten years she and her family have been fencing 20-50 acre plots on their land in an effort to promote re-growth of native forest. For her conservation efforts, Barbara was recognized as Rancher of the Year by the Kona Soil and Water Conservation District in 1999.


Barbara says that “challenging” is a good word for ranching today, with weather being the primary issue. Her beloved Kona has been in perpetual drought.  Undaunted, she is developing a drought-resistant strain of cattle. It’s this “can do” attitude as well as her extensive knowledge, motivation and passion for the paniolo lifestyle she is perpetuating that has earned Barbara the respect of her fellow paniolo.


Barbara is the epitome of a pa’u rider.  She rides with grace and integrity, and is incredibly deserving of this honor!


We hope you will be able to join us at Old Hawaiʻi on Horseback on September 14th, from 10am to 1pm at Waikiʻi Ranch. Advance tickets are available for $30, and $35 at the door. Buy your tickets online!


Eventbrite - Old Hawaii on Horseback 2019