State lawmakers consider commission to tie surfing back to its Hawaiian roots
Has the sport of surfing strayed from its roots? A State Surfing Commission would help connect the culture.
Local surfers continue to ride waves of success, and some will paddle out to international fame in the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan. However, some believe the history of the sport, its legends and origins are fading.
State lawmakers have a plan they hope keeps surfing connected to its Hawaiian roots.
"Everything from the cultural aspect, to the monetizing of surfing, to the branding of surfing, it's not here," said State Senator Glenn Wakai.
As chair of the Senate Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee, Wakai voiced his strong support for creating a State Surfing Commission: a 15-member board focused on promoting surfing in Hawaii and educating people on its historical and cultural significance.
"I think we should have done this decades ago," he said during Monday's committee meeting.
According to the language of Senate Bill 1459, an estimated 704,000 people surf in Hawaii each year, yet many can't connect surfing to its beginnings here in the Aloha State.
The idea's gained a lot of support from surfing organizations like The World Surf League and Da Hui, as well as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. OHA stepped in to help bring Hawaiian culture back to the Eddie Big Wave Invitational by signing on as a sponsor to promote the sport and its roots. Under a new amendment to the bill, OHA will name members to the commission who represent the Hawaiian Community.
There were hesitations.
In the original language the commission would be under the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. DCCA had budget questions and was concerned about the commissions activities being outside of its jurisdiction. Wakai and the other senators amended the language of the bill, putting the Surfing Commission in the hands of Hawaii's Lieutenant Governor Josh Green's office.
The bill passed the committee.