Old Hawaiʻi on Horseback celebrates “Nā Wahine Holo Lio”. Loosely translated from Hawaiian, its meaning is “the woman horse rider”. This legacy event has a rich history in the Hawaiian paniolo culture. With the rest of the world catching on to and learning about Hawaiʻi’s paʻu riders and their very unique story, this seems like perfect timing. A recent article in VOGUE Magazine featured many of Hawaiʻi Island’s own. And, if you are here in Waimea, you can visit the Nā Wahine Holo Lio Museum now open at Pukalani Stables.

After an absence of more than one decade, a grand tradition on Hawaii Island — the majestic Old Hawaii On Horseback pageant — makes a comeback to the island this September. The event will be staged on the Waikii Ranch polo grounds Sept. 14 with attendees enjoying the sounds of Grammy Award winner John Cruz from 10-11 a.m. followed by the pageant from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Detailed information on this grand event on Saturday, from West Hawai'i Today

Judy Hancock rode dressed in brilliant yellow to represent Princess Kaiulani.

Photo Courtesy of The Paniolo Preservation Society

The event is a culmination of an 18-month celebration of Nā Wahine Holo Lio by Paniolo Preservation Society – a celebration inspired by the unheralded role that mothers, wives, grandmothers, great grandmothers, sisters, aunts and Hawaii monarchs such as Queen Emma and Princess Kaiulani played in this important aspect of the Hawai’i economy, culture and lifestyle.

At Old Hawai’i on Horseback you will be able to witness magnificently draped paʻu riders in their finest, elegantly parading their horses onto Waikiʻi Polo Field, each in their paʻu units. A typical parade pa’u unit is made up of the pa’u queen and her princess, escorted by male members of her family. Missionary families, monarchs, princesses and naval captains may participate in the paʻu unit procession as well. It will be a beautiful representation of the history of Hawai’i on horseback, depicting historic moments in the state’s ranching history- from the arrival of the first cattle and horses forward to a glimpse of ranching life today.

The story behind the long skirts originates back to the 1800s when women would drape themselves in pa’u silk skirts to protect their clothing as well as enabling them to ride astride with dignity and modesty. Often draped in colors representing each of the Hawaiian Islands, the pa’u rider is arguably the most visible celebration of paniolo culture. Lively, colorful and culturally rich, this is a performance you don’t want to miss!

Governor David Ige and Lieutenant Governor Joshua Green proclaimed September 14, 2019 as “NᾹ WAHINE HOLO LIO OLD HAWAI’I ON HORSEBACK DAY” in Hawai’i. They ask the people of the Aloha State to join them in celebrating the beautiful history of Hawai'i on horseback!

View proclamation here

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