Old Hawaii rides again: Horseback pageant returns to Waikii Ranch to pay homage to Waimea’s history

This year’s Old Hawaii on Horseback pageant will feature nearly 100 riders, many of them among the state’s more accomplished horsewomen. The pageant was last staged in 2008. Riding at that time were two local women portraying members of the alii were Deedee Keakealani Bertlemann in red and Kuulei Case in bright pink (photo by Michael O’Brien).
Local experts demonstrated the art of pa’u draping at a workshop held some years ago in Waimea. In this photo Barbara Nobriga of Kona draped a pa’u skirt on a young Kuunahenani Tachera of Waimea. Nobriga was assisted by Deedee Keakealani Bertlemann holding up the skirt.

The famed Old Hawaii on Horseback pageant, happening at Waikii Ranch on Sept. 14, will feature paʻu riders elegantly parading their horses. In a past pageant, Judy Hancock rode dressed in brilliant yellow to represent Princess Kaiulani. The pa’u queen in this year’s parade will be Lani Cran Petrie, owner-manager of Kapapala Ranch in Ka’u. Petrie is appearing in the pageant in honor of her family’s ranch celebrating 160 years in existence next year. (Courtesy photos)

Some years ago at workshop co-sponsored by Waimea Middle School, the Paniolo Preservation Society and Anna Ranch, local experts taught the art of paʻu draping. In a practice dating back to the 1800s, women would drape themselves in pa’u silk skirts to protect their clothing as well as ride astride with dignity and modesty. Kuulani Auld of Kona posed as a mother riding with her daughter represented by Kuunahenani Tachera of Waimea.

Artwork for this year’s Old Hawaii on Horseback pageant was created and donated by Pat Hall of Waimea, who also did the pageant’s artwork back in the 1970s. This year’s version, while modernized, still captures the historical nature of the event.

Other participants in 2008 included (top left) Fern White from Kohala portraying Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske; (top right) Leina Hoopai from Kohala; (bottom left) Kuulani Auld; and (bottom right) Queenie Dowsett from Waimea (photos by Michael O’Brien).

In this photo, Deedee Lindsey Bertlemann demonstrates an ancient art — pa’u draping — by draping an orange pa’u skirt on Kehau Marshall. Both women are from Waimea.

KOHALA — After an absence of more than a decade, a grand tradition on Hawaii Island — the majestic Old Hawaii On Horseback pageant — makes a comeback to the island this September.