All in the family
WAIMEA — On the Big Island and Maui, where his grandfathers, Freddy Rice Jr. and Dan Miranda, are household names in the ranching and rodeo community, 12-year-old Daniel Miranda is carrying on the family tradition and making them proud.
Daniel was the Hawaii District Keiki All-Around Champion for five years and recently was elected junior high vice president of the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA).
Awards are nothing, however, compared to the emotional cred when Daniel, his father, Ken, and grandfather, Freddy, all compete at the Parker Ranch Labor Day Rodeo in Waimea next month.
Another three-generation Miranda family entry will be Ken’s cousin, Melvin Miranda, who will compete with his son, Monty, and grandsons, Montana and Micah, as well as his sons, Melvin and Sonny, and grandson, Sonny Boy.
Daniel is entered with his grandfather in team roping. Ken is entered in team roping and all of the men’s events, including the poo wai u — an event that symbolizes catching wild cattle in the mountains.
“When a cowboy gets it right, it’s beautiful to watch,” said Morag Miranda, Ken’s wife and Daniel’s mother.
As parents, Ken and Morag strive to give Daniel and his younger sister, Elizabeth, the same opportunities they were given.
“My father and mother sacrificed a lot to make sure I had opportunities to rodeo throughout my youth and into young adulthood,” Morag said, remembering her time as the 1988 Miss Rodeo Hawaii and competing in the Miss Rodeo America pageant at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Ken has won many Hawaii State Rodeo championships and is a past state champion in each of the men’s events, including his favorite: bareback riding. He also was president and served on the board for the Hawaii Rodeo Cowboys Association, an organization co-founded by Freddy Rice.
Ken’s father, the late Dan Miranda, was a renowned saddle maker and cowboy from Kaukaiau Ranch, now known as Mauna Kea Ranch, on the Hamakua side of Mauna Kea. Morag’s father, Freddy Rice, is scion of the family that came to Hawaii as missionaries in the mid-1800s, becoming successful businessmen and ranchers throughout the generations.
Freddy has owned or managed four different ranches on the Big Island and Maui, and throughout his long and distinguished career as a rancher has invested his knowledge back into his homeland, developing innovative water and grazing systems, wildlife management, and soil conservation techniques still used today.
Just one week shy of his 83rd birthday, Freddy still works his ranch every day and competes in team roping every chance he gets, treasuring opportunities to compete with his grandson, Daniel. The Rice-Miranda family’s legacy — participating in and actively supporting the rodeo sport they love — continues to run deep.
Morag and Ken actively support keiki and high school rodeos, providing stock for competitions and horses for kids who don’t have their own. They also officiate at rodeos throughout the state.
Young Daniel’s election to a national board proves the “giving back” lesson has crossed generations. As the NHSRA junior high vice president, he will attend three national meetings in 2017, representing approximately 2,500 junior high members from Hawaii and 40 other states, along with Australia and the Canadian providences.
“Daniel is an exceptional young man of great character and vision,” said HHSRA Maui District President Kaui Awai-Dickson. “His roots run deep, but his passion to kokua (help/serve) the sport he loves may run even deeper, as is evident in his desire to lead at the national level.”
“My father is the one who taught me to give back and it both humbles and inspires me to see my son now doing the same,” Morag said.
The Ken Miranda family moved to Maui several years ago for Ken’s dream job: managing the 12,000-acre Kaonoulu Ranch founded by the Rice family 100 years ago. But Morag says the Big Island will always be home. They still own a house in Honokaa and Ken is on island every week, checking on their cow herd in town and their work crew at Miranda Fence Company.
“Last year, after we had been on Maui for two years, classmates, friends and family called out to Daniel and Elizabeth as they rode with their rodeo friends in the Keiki Paniolo Pa’u Unit in the Aloha Festival Paniolo Parade in Waimea,” Morag said. “Our Waimea ties remain strong and will never be broken.”