History of surfing class taught at Kapiolani Community College

World renowned surfer and board shaper Tom "Pohaku" Stone teaches Hawaiian culture through the History of Surfing Class

Kapiʻolani Community College
Maile Au or Arlene Abiang, (808) 956-5637
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Jan 5, 2006

HONOLULU — Tom "Pohaku" Stone, known for his magnificent 18-foot wood surfboards — the kind once favored by Island royalty — is utilizing his love of surfing to teach people about the Hawaiian culture through a History of Surfing class offered at Kapʻiolani Community College (KCC). The class meets on Saturdays for about three hours at various historical Hawaiian sites where students learn about traditional Hawaiian sports and their significance to the Hawaiian culture.

The course, Hawaiian Studies 216, is much more than jumping on boards and learning to ride waves. "The study of traditional native sports is a gateway into the Hawaiian culture," explained Pohaku. "Native sports demonstrate the native people‘s relationship to the land and through these sports students learn about the Hawaiian culture. I am trying to show that there is a living culture here in Hawaiʻi that we can continue to embrace and use economically," said Pohaku.

In addition to learning about Hawaiian culture, the course focuses on the surfing business, lessons on water safety, oceanography, meteorology, history, and craftsmanship. By the end of the semester, students can expect to learn how to construct a traditional surfboard using the techniques and tools of the Hawaiian people. Students will also understand the cultural significance of traditional Hawaiian sports, as well as the cultural impact and residual effects of the Western value system on the Hawaiian people.

Pohaku created the class when he realized the impact that such a course could have in Hawaiʻi, the place where surfing originated from. His long-term vision is to build upon the course, eventually evolving into a two-year certification program creating experts in Hawaiian culture, surfing and traditions.

Pohaku grew up on the Windward side of Oʻahu in a family of eight. He longed for his own surfboard, but the family could not afford one. Pohaku eventually grew into a respectable semi-pro surfer and learned to carve his own boards using traditional techniques. With a piece of wood, his hands, his eyes and his culture, Pohaku carves a board using no measurements or templates. The boards are sold for about $10,000 under his Hawaiian Board Company label.

Those interested in registering for Pohaku‘s History of Surfing Class can go to the Kapʻiolani Community College website, a http://www.kcc.hawaii.edu for more information.

For more information, visit: http://www.kcc.hawaii.edu