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 on the Lady Washington, and became a resident of Honolulu in 1793 or 1794.
Don Francisco was from Jerez de la Frontera --- an agricultural part of southern Spain. He was, therefore, very familiar with the medicinal uses of plants and herbs. He got here just as King Kamehameha I was uniting the individual Hawaiian kingdoms (islands) into one kingdom. Due to Marin’s extensive knowledge of medicinal uses of plants and herbs, he soon came to the at-tention of the king. He became the Kamehameha’s business advisor, bookkeeper, sometimes physician, and interpreter. Through service to the king and the ali`i -- royalty -- he soon ac-quired land and wealth.
Marin loved to collect plants and soon turned his hobby into a "ship supply" business. He pro-vided fresh fruits and vegetables to the crews of foreign ships that had started arriving at Honolulu Harbor.
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. Marin intro-duced these plants into the Hawaiian kingdom: apples, apricots, asparagus, avocados, cab-bage, 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 Ha-waiian 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 King's death bed in 1819.
The next major Hispanic milestone occurred in the early 1800s. In 1793 British Captain George Vancouver gave King Kamehameha the First 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 num-bers. 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, 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. The word “va-quero” came from “vaca,” the Spanish word for cow.
Researchers know that “paniolo” -- the Hawaiian term for cowboy -- was derived from the con-tact between the vaqueros and the Hawaiians. One version is that it derived from the Hawaii-ans trying to pronounce “panuelos," the colorful kerchiefs the vaqueros wore around their necks. In any case, the term paniolo is part of the legacy of the Mexican cowboys.
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 so many of Hawaii’s paniolos have Spanish surnames. They remind us of the legacy left by those vaque-ros that roamed these islands 178 years ago.
The next major Hispanic milestone was the arrival of the Puerto Ricans. The first “Ricans” ar-rived in Hawaii in 1900. The Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) was looking for experi-enced workers for their plantations.
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 des-troyed, and most of its agricultural workers suddenly unemployed.
When the HSPA 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 environ-ment. 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!
Major Hispanic Historical Milestones In Hawaii:
1793 or 1794: First Hispanic -- a Spaniard -- arrives in Hawaii.
1830: King brings 200 Mexican cowboys from California to Hawaii.
1900 - 1901: Hawaii Sugar Planters Association brings in 5,000 plantation workers from Puerto Rico.