Waimea is a census-designated place (CDP) in Hawaii County, Hawaii, United States. The population was 7,028 at the 2000 census. Since each U.S. state cannot have more than one post office of the same name and there are many 'Waimeas' on the islands of Hawaii, the official US Post Office name for Waimea is Kamuela. Waimea is the largest town in the interior of the Big Island, and is the center for ranching activities and paniolo culture. The Parker Ranch in and around Waimea is the largest privately owned cattle ranch in the US, and the annual Fourth of Julyrodeo is a major event. Waimea is also home to the headquarters of two astronomicalobservatories located on Mauna Kea, the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. It is believed that the watershed area of the Kohala mountains once supported several thousand native Hawaiians, who practiced subsistence agriculture, made kapa, and thatched living structures. As the Europeans arrived in the area, most of the sandalwood (Santalum ellipticum) forests were harvested and the land became ideal for grazing animals. Californialonghorn cattle were given as a gift to Hawaiian King Kamehameha I by BritishCaptainGeorge Vancouver in 1793. In 1809, John Palmer Parker arrived to the area after jumping ship and over time became employed by the king to tame the population of cattle, which at this point had grown out of control. In 1815 Parker married Kipikane, the daughter of a high-ranking chief, and as a family developed what is now Parker Ranch, the largest ranch in the area. Waimea's post office name Kamuela is the Hawaiian name for Samuel, named after Samuel Parker (18531920), the grandson of John Parker.