Our Paniolo Pete

19 Nov

With great honor, we remember Papa Pete a 2011 inductee today into the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council Paniolo Hall of Fame at ceremonies to be held at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel.

Peter Pa’akahi Kama, Sr. was born on Maui on New Year’s Eve, 1919. He married his sweetheart, Virginia Kaiponohea Moss on May 7, 1949, at Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu. They had four children, Deborah, Kathleen, Peter, Jr., and Gary.

His mother Carrie Lupaliilii Kenui was an entertainer and lived in Honolulu on/near Kalia Rd. with her Uncle Willy. Peter was fathered by an older man, a Korean merchant Kim Sun.  Carrie returned home to Waihe’e Valley in Maui to give birth.  Her father Kaauamonui Kenui  (he was born Kenui Kaauamonui but later took his first name as his surname) and mother Mary Poni Kapela Hookano were living in the valley at that time.

In January 1927, Peter was adopted by Carrie’s neighbors who were childless – Freddie Kaiminaauao Kama  married to Mary Kahawaiolaa – and took on the surname KAMA.  According to Peter’s first cousin Anna Kahana, his adoptive mother was also known as “Makaole”; she was a lei seller and grew gardenias in her yard in Kalihi Uka.

Pete was one of those lucky people whose profession was also his lifelong passion. He left high school early, eager to pursue his dreams of an exciting and rewarding life working with horses, livestock, and good men. His first job was as cattle tender on a barge sailing between the Big Island and Honolulu. He moved on to become a ranch hand at Dillingham and Mokule‘ia ranches and others. He began working with Kahua Ranch in 1953, where he happily spent the rest of his career.

He was a frequent competitor in rodeos through the years, and kept cows and horses in the pasture behind his Waimea North Shore home. As founding members, he and his best friend Alex Napier were pioneers of the 4H program in Hawai`i. Pete was also an extremely skilled leather craftsman who enjoyed whiling away spare hours creating beautiful belts and custom saddles.

Some of the leather handiwork of Peter Kama, Sr.

A gentle soul, Pete dearly loved his family and friends and he loved a good time, too. Working together at Kahua Ranch, Pete and Alex Napier and their families became inseparable. Bobby Napier even calls Pete his “second father.” Friends for life, Pete and Alex loved sharing a few drinks and pupu with the boys after a hard day’s work, and as a result were no doubt responsible for a few gray hairs on the heads of their beloved Kaipo and Clara.

The holidays were Pete’s favorite time of the year. His birthday and New Year’s Eve celebration were always very special events, eagerly anticipated by family, friends, and North Shore neighbors. He loved fireworks, and made sure that he had more than anyone else on the North Shore! In true Hawaiian style, during the holidays he was famous for organizing the whole family in making a huge batch of laulau so that everyone who stopped by to visit had some to take home with them. He loved helping his friends with their own parties, too, often bringing a round or quarter to “huli” for them.

A great family man with a giant heart, Pete led by example and with a quiet authority that brought respect from all who knew him. None of his children can recall him ever raising his voice. He didn’t need to. Peter Kama, Sr. passed away on April 24, 1985.

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