Hawai`i Ranchers Member Pono von Holt

Photo courtesy of Hawai`i Grazing Land Initiative

Pono von Holt of Ponoholo Ranch.

The Ponoholo Ranch on Kohala Mountain is one of the most beautiful ranches on the Big Island. This 11,000 acre cattle ranch covers 3 climate zones stretching from the rain forest at 4,800 feet to the ocean.

It has the second largest herd of cattle on the island, 6,000 to 8,000, after the Parker Ranch. The ranch is operated in an environmentally sensitive manner through intensive rotational grazing which maximizes nutritional opportunities for the cattle thereby reducing damage to the land through erosion and overgrazing.

The Ranch offers awe inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, the Kohala and Kona coastline and the Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes on the Big Island and the Haleakala Volcano on Maui.

Kahua Ranch Limited was founded in 1928 by two men who had a passion for ranching, for people, and for Hawai’i–Atherton Richards and Ronald Kamehameha o ka hae hawaii von Holt. Today, eighty years later, descendants of these two pioneering spirits still call Kahua home. In 1980 the ranch split into two, Kahua Ranch and Ponoholo Ranch. The two ranches were run as a joint venture until 1989 when they
were split completely into independent companies.

For Pono von Holt, ranching is a heritage and a way of life that he and his family very much enjoy. Ponoholo Ranch is doing its part to preserve open space and maintain healthy grasslands on the 11,000- acre property in North Kohala. Pono has placed sections of the cattle ranch into the federal Grassland Reserve Program, making a 15-year commitment to prevent development and promote ranching practices that are healthy for the environment.

“There is tremendous outside pressure to do something else with this land, like developing it,” von Holt said. “This ranch has been in my family for 75 years. I’m the fourth generation. I don’t want to do anything else with it.”

Today, the lands of Kahua support two ranches, Kahua and Ponoholo, each bound to the other by a common history and a common boundary. Compromise, cooperation and a lot of kokua between two kama’aina families have kept Kahua a vital part of Hawai’i’s ranching industry. The future looks bright for the next generation. Hanahou, 0 Kahua.