HONOLULU (KHON2) – We all make use of our island roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to their given names? 

Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi if you did? 

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Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” highlights various streets across the islands so we can dig into those names, and in turn, learn something new. 

This week, we bring attention to the Hawaiian cowboy.

In the ahupuaʻa of Waikoloa, which lies in the moku of Kohala on the island of Hawaiʻi, stands a street given the Hawaiian word for cowboy. 

We are talking about Paniolo Avenue.

In ancient Hawaiʻi, the largest animal was the pig which was brought to the islands by the first Hawaiians.

It wasn’t until 1793 when the first cattle were introduced as a gift to King Kamehameha I by British Captain George Vancouver.  

The king had put a kapu, or prohibition, on the cattle allowing them to roam freely without disruption. 

But the gradual growth of cattle became a nuisance, leading to destruction of villages, crops and even hillsides.

A while after the arrival of the first horse to Hawaiʻi in 1803, it was King Kamehameha III who requested help from California to learn how to handle the cattle. 

In response, Mexican-Spanish vaqueros, or cowboys, were sent.

They taught Hawaiians skills such as roping and herding, which then evolved into what we now call Paniolo.

The story of the Hawaiian cowboy stretched outside of the islands by perhaps the most famous paniolo.

In 1908, Ikua Purdy, Archie Kaʻauʻa, and Jack Low traveled to Wyoming to compete in their Cheyenne Frontier Day.

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All performed exceptionally well with Ikua beating his opponents to win the steer roping competition.  

Did you know? Now you do!