The importance of family is held in high regard by Parker Ranch and we make it a priority to help take care of our ‘ohana by balancing work and family responsibilities. And we support a vision for regional growth that allows families and friends to spend more time together, enjoying the outdoors and the natural beauty of the Big Island, especially the Waimea community.
Who is the Parker Ranch ‘ohana? We are, like the island, a “mixed plate” of people from all over the world. Naturally, our roots are here in Hawai‘i nei, where the steadfast connection to the land remains deep and strong. Hawaiian was and many times still is, the specific language used for ranch work. Many of our multi-generational Hawaiian families still work for the Ranch, practicing the finely-honed arts of saddle making, pā‘ū riding, and more, in addition to the pa‘ahana (hard, industrious work) of ranching.
From America came John Palmer Parker and others; from Mexico and Spain, the paniolo. Their families—and those from China, Korea, Portugal, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the U.S., and Europe—joined our ‘ohana, bringing their own special skills and knowledge, stories, music, foods, and culture to blend with ours.
In 1908, descendants of some of our original ranch families had the chance to compete in the world-renowned rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. These cowboys—Archie Ka‘aua, Jack Low (great-grandson of John Palmer Parker), and Ikua Purdy—stunned the traditional rodeo crowd and came home with numerous trophies to inspire songs and stories for more than a century. Purdy has become iconic to Waimea, depicted in the larger-than-life statue fronting Parker Ranch Center.
Our Japanese paniolo are an important and unique “branch” of the Ranch family as well. Parker Ranch’s first Japanese cowboy, Matsuichi Yamaguchi, came from Hiroshima and went to work as a groundskeeper for A.W. Carter’s home “Hale Kea” (now Jacaranda Inn) in the early 20th Century. His tragic death, after a horseback accident, did not discourage son Ichiro from going to work on the Ranch, nor Jiro from becoming one of Hawaii’s most-decorated rodeo cowboys. Jiro’s son Mark continues the tradition as a Ranch foreman and rodeo competitor.
For more information on paniolo and their families, visit www.paniolopreservation.org
Today’s Parker Ranch ‘ohana includes approximately 40 dedicated employees who work on the property: equipment operators, welders, shop mechanics, security, hunting guides and office staff. Twelve are full-time paniolo in the traditional sense, and many of our employees are the second or third generation in their family to work at Parker Ranch. All are considered more than team members; they are ‘ohana.
In off-duty hours, employees and families enjoy a variety of activities, which include horseback riding, hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping on the Ranch. An employee favorite is a visit to one of the cabins near the state forest reserve during apple season.
And every day of the week, we can enjoy working with the confidence and pride of knowing we represent the historic Parker Ranch, a company of people dedicated to preserving the past and promoting the future of our industry with responsibility and aloha.