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Paniolo ride to explore Waimea Field System (Feb. 18)


Paniolo Preservation Society is inviting serious horseback riders on a half-day escorted trail ride exploring extraordinary pre-contact sites and features of the Waimea Field System as documented by historian Abraham Fornander in the mid 1800s, renowned Hawaii historian Marion Kelly in the early 1970s, and more recently, by Ross Cordy in his respected book, “Exalted Sits the Chief,” which was published in 2000.

The Waimea Field System was comprised of many tiny rivulets (awewai) that — from a bird’s eye view — resembled a fish net of small waterways that supported intense cultivation of dry land kalo, uala (sweet potato) and sugar cane.

The ride – Saturday, Feb. 18 — will provide a fascinating perspective of this amazing food production “system” — one of three on the leeward side of Hawaii Island which archaeologists believe date back to as early as perhaps the 1200s AD.

The Waimea Field System is believed to have been dramatically expanded in the 1700s, “likely associated with Alapainui’s and Kalaniopuu’s presence in the Kawaihae and Waimea area, and with Kamehameha’s building of Puukohola heiau — all requiring greater food production,” suggests Cordy in his book.

“Trail ride participants will come to understand why Marion Kelly concluded decades ago that this area was a priceless example of agricultural ingenuity that ‘should never be developed’,” said UH-Hilo archaeologist Dr. Peter Mills who is also one of several PPS Board members that will escort the ride.

Escorts also include Dr. Billy Bergin, Freddy Rice, Sonny Keakealani, Robby Hind, Gail Rice and Lilah Ellis.

Participants will assemble at 8 a.m. for an approximate three-hour escorted ride, then assemble for a BBQ lunch and talk-story about the day’s sights and revelations, which will conclude about 3 p.m.

The ride is exclusively for serious riders who are 18 years or older. Participants must bring their own mount or arrange a rental; horses must be shod for rough terrain and no stallions will be permitted.

Horses may be rented from Cowboys of Hawaii, the outfitters that operates out of Parker Ranch’s former surgery barn behind (south) of Pukalani Stables, by calling Roberta Mendes at (808) 885-5006.

Cowboys of Hawaii’s deadline to secure a horse rental is Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Participants also must bring weather protection and drinking water.

This is a PPS fundraiser to support the organizations’ educational preservation mission and help expand the new Paniolo Heritage Center at historic Pukalani Stables. A $250 donation is suggested.

For more information, call (808) 854-1541 or visit:

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