|The first documented presence of a Hispanic in the Hawaiian islands was that of Don Francisco de Paula Marin, a 20-
year-old Spanish sailor. He deserted a Spanish naval ship in the U.S. Northwest, arrived here on the Lady
Washington, and became a resident of Honolulu in 1793 or 1794.
the king and the ali`i(royalty) he soon acquired land and wealth.
Marin loved to collect plants and soon turned his hobby into a "ship supply" business. He provided fresh fruits and
vegetables to the crews of foreign ships that had started arriving at Honolulu Harbor in the late 1700s.
Despite being a skilled businessman, today Marin is best remembered for his green thumb. He was responsible for
introducing many of the food plants we have in the islands: apples, apricots, asparagus, avocados, cabbage,
carrots, chile pepper, eggplant, lemons, limes, macadamia, nectarines, nuts, olives, onion, oranges, parsley, peas,
peaches, pears, potatoes, rice, tea and tobacco.
According to a Hawaiian History book by Richard Wiesnewski, "The Rise and Fall of the Hawaiian Kingdom,"
Francisco Marin planted the first pineapple in the kingdom of Hawaii on January 2, 1813.
He attended to Kamehameha as his physician and was with him at the King's death bed in 1819.
The next major Hispanic milestone was the arrival of the Mexicans. In 1793 British Captain George Vancouver gave
King Kamehameha five head of black longhorn cattle. Kamehameha set them free to roam the plains of the Big
Island (Hawaii). He put a kapu (Hawaiian word normally translated as “forbidden”) on them in order to allow them
to multiply and reproduce. Kapu was part of a Hawaiian system of laws, which, if violated, met with instant death.
These cattle flourished and soon became a nuisance because of their rapidly growing numbers. As they spread up
into the mountains, they made farming increasingly difficult for the Hawaiians. By the time the kapu was lifted in
1830, they had ruined many crops, and forests and farming were in decline.
That year Kamehameha III – the younger son of Kamehameha I -- realizing the potential of cattle production,
brought 200 Mexican cowboys (vaqueros) from California -- when it used to be Ca-li-for-ni-a -- to the Big Island to
teach the Hawaiians the roping and riding skills necessary to herd wild cattle. Repeat: The Mexicans were invited
here by the King.
Researchers know that “paniolo” -- the Hawaiian term for cowboy -- was derived from the contact between the
vaqueros and the Hawaiians. One version is that it derived from the Hawaiians’ pronunciation of “panuelos," the
colorful kerchiefs the vaqueros wore around their necks. In any case, the term paniolo is part of the legacy of the
Hawaii had its first cowboys by 1836. America had its first cowboys -- of "Wild West" fame --thirty or forty years
later. John Parker founded the Parker Ranch, the largest privately-held ranch in the U.S., in 1848. Ranching has
been a major exporting industry for Hawaii since. Many of those Mexican cowboys stayed here and got married.
That’s one reason many of Hawaii’s paniolos have Spanish surnames. They remind us of the legacy left by those
vaqueros that roamed these islands 178 years ago.
The next major Hispanic milestone was the arrival of the Puerto Ricans. The first “Ricans” arrived in Hawaii in
In August of 1899, San Ciriaco, a huge hurricane, punished Puerto Rico for two days with winds of 110mph –
150mph. It left the island completely devastated, its agrarian society destroyed, and most of its agricultural
workers suddenly unemployed.
The Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) was looking for experienced workers for their plantations. When
they found out about the hurricane, they started recruiting workers in Puerto Rico. Between 1900 and 1901, the
HSPA brought 5,000 Puerto Ricans workers to toil on Hawaii’s plantations. We call the descendants of these early
residents “Local Ricans” – Puerto Ricans born in Hawaii.
As a result of this migration, some Puerto Rican traditions were adapted to their new environment. The traditional
"arroz con gandules" is called "gandule rice" in the Hawaiian Islands. And "pasteles" have become "pateles." You
will see many roadside vendors selling "pateles" as you drive around the islands. No mater what you call them,
they're good eating!
Bottom-line: Contrary to popular belief, Hispanics are not the new kids on the Hawaii block. We helped to build
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