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From pineapples to land, a diverse legacy lives on


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Castle & Cooke Inc. was founded in 1851 by missionaries Samuel Northrup Castle and Amos Starr Cooke, who both arrived in Hawaii in 1837.

It was the era in which they and other bewhiskered gents established businesses that would form the Big Five companies, the largely agriculture-based armature around which modern-day Hawaii was built and whose influence was inescapable.

Its 158-year history is rife with diversification as well as philanthropy by its founders.

From its depository business, the earliest incarnation of Bank of Hawaii, it went into the mercantile business and sugar plantations, and was an agent for and then led Matson Navigation Co. It also invested in Jim Dole's Hawaiian Pineapple Co. and became its owner, among other ventures.

Castle & Cooke introduced cable television to Hawaii in the 1960s for its Mililani development, the state's first master-planned community. Its numerous residential and commercial projects include the future 5,000-home Koa Ridge in Central Oahu.

Now owned by billionaire David Murdock, Castle & Cooke owns some 98 percent of Lanai, where it has three resorts, the La Ola solar farm, and plans a wind farm, said Carlton Ching, vice president of community and government relations.

The former Big Five company's core mission has been “;to provide for the needs of Hawaii families,”; Ching said. “;That's our legacy.”;

“;No one has made a contribution to the state on the magnitude of the Castles and the Cookes,”; said historian and author Bob Sigall.