HAWAIIAN DONKEY HISTORY
Origin of the donkey dates a very long ways back in time.  The date when this humble animal was first domesticated by man is not known, nor do we know just when the first donkey came to Hawaii.  It may be that the Spaniards were responsible for its introduction here as in the western hemisphere.  The first donkey bray heard in Hawaii may have come from one of the three who accompanied Richard Charlton, the first British Consul for Hawaii, to Honolulu in the fall of 1824.  The Charlton donkeys, soon after their arrival, saw the early attempts at coffee and sugar culture in Manoa Valley.  These helpers of man in Hawaii, called Nightingales due to their bray, have known what it is to carry coffee cherry, coconuts, taro, rice, papayas, and many other products.  At one time the steep and winding trail leading up out of historic Waipio valley on the Big Island, felt the impact of those tiny hard hoofs that carried the taro from that fertile region.  Following World War II, there was a surplus of inexpensive military jeeps, so many farmers switched.  The jeep could carry more than the donkey and gas was cheaper then.  Many farmers let their donkeys loose on the lava flows where they survived and multiplied .  Today the wild donkeys of Hawaii are nearly gone, driven out by development.  Fortunately, there are a good number of Nightingale donkeys owned and cared for by Hawaii Island residents. 

 

Donkey Tales of Hawaii' herd are direct descendants of the wild Nightingales.

  

 

Donkeys are still used worldwide to carry loads.  This patient and willing animal has carried more cargo in proportion to its weight than has any other. 

 

Kona Nightingale loaded with bags of coffee cherry, ready to head across the rocky terrain to the coffee mills.

Back to Home
The Hawaiian word for donkey is "KEKAKE"