The shaka may be La’ie’s most famous export. Even if you don’t know it by name, you almost definitely know it by sight. It’s a waving gesture with the hand in a loose fist, with the pinkie and thumb extended. In the parlance of surfers, it says, “Hang loose.” But to understand the true meaning of the shaka, you have to know the story of a La’ie local named Hamana Kalili.
Hamana worked in the Kahuku Sugar Mill. It was there that he lost the three middle fingers of his right hand in an accident. Unable to do his old job, he was reassigned to guard the sugar train. His all-clear wave was emulated by local children, and the Shaka was born.
It evolved to symbolize the Aloha spirit of Hawaii, conveying a universal spirit of friendly acceptance and inclusion. Of course, that’s a mouthful to say, so for best results, just say it in shorthand—like Hamana did.
Stories Await Plan your visit