Real Estate

Maui Ranch-Style Living | Paniolo

December 15, 2015, 8:30 AM HST
* Updated December 15, 8:33 AM
Listen to this Article
2 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Google images, 2015, labeled for reuse,

Google images, 2015, labeled for reuse,

Maui is definitely the most diverse of all the Hawaiian Islands. On Maui, you can find jungle landscapes, dry desert temperatures and rolling pastures all within an hour drive.

One of the most exclusive areas to live on Maui is Upcountry. Upcountry Maui consists of Makawao, Olinda, Lower and Upper Kula, Keokea, ‘Ulupalukua and areas reaching through to Kanaio.

Upcountry is singularly distinctive for many reasons—for much more than its magical landscapes, fabulous properties with acreage, comfortable temperatures, and incredible South and West Maui views.

Cattle & Hawai‘i’s Cowboys

Google images, 2015, labeled for reuse,

Google images, 2015, labeled for reuse,

When Upcountry, visitors and new residents frequently wonder a few things… First, how did cattle come to Hawai‘i? And, second, how did there come to be cowboys in Hawai‘i? (Then, after proper explanation, they begin to understand why we have avocado and cactus in Hawai‘i, too.)


However, there will always be speculation on exact dates, here’s the gist…


Cattle (California Longhorn) were originally brought to Hawai‘i Island around 1893 by George Vancouver, an English ship captain and explorer. His mission was to bring them to Kamehameha I as a gift from the ruling monarch of England, King George III. At this point in time, Hawai‘i was still known as the Sandwich Isles.

Google images, 2015, labeled for reuse,

Google images, 2015, labeled for reuse,

Needless to say, Kamehameha I was extremely pleased with this gift, and Captain Vancouver returned the following year with more cattle and some sheep. In hopes that the cattle would breed and grow into a thriving agricultural resource for Hawai‘i, a 10-year kapu (taboo/law) was put in place, forbidding the hunting and slaughter of the cattle.

When not directed, California Longhorn are known to be strong-willed and somewhat belligerent livestock. Without any predators and with free rein over Hawai‘i’s lands, controlling these cattle became a problem. They were damaging native forests and gardens, and destroying family farms. Even makeshift fences made of dense lava rock couldn’t constrain them. Something had to be done.


By the 1830s, the kapu for hunting and slaughtering the cattle had been lifted, but there was still a major control issue. In addition, cattle were now throughout all of Hawai‘i’s main islands: Maui, O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and of course the Big Island (Hawai‘i Island).

On Maui, cattle were primarily in the Upcountry and North Shore areas.

King Kamehameha had learned of the cowboy and ranching culture in the Americas. He sent a chief to Spanish California to hire the men that would eventually herd Hawai‘i’s cattle and teach the Hawaiians to do the same.

Hawai‘i’s “cowboys” come from a long line of Mexican, Indian and Spanish vaqueros; experienced and professional ranching cowboys. These men were named “paniolo” by local Hawaiians because of their distinctive look (ropes, spurs, saddles and sombreros) and their español culture. This is when Hawai‘i’s paniolo culture truly began.

For more information about Upcountry properties on Maui, visit


Make the most of your Maui vacation with these top-rated activities: Maui Top 20: Maui Visitor & Tourism Information
E-Mail Newsletters Receive daily or weekly updates via e-mail. Subscribe Now
News Alerts Breaking news alerts on your mobile device. Get the App


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments