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Origin of the Shaka

Posted by on February 10, 2014

In Hawaii there are few things that embody the aloha spirit more than the “Shaka.” The unmistakable pinky and thumb salute is a favorite here at Maui Zipline Company. “Hanging loose” is a constant reminder to slow down and be in the moment. It can also mean: hello, goodbye, thank you, right on, and more. From surfers to bus drivers, people use the Shaka as more than non-verbal communication, it’s a recognition of island life philosophy.
There is some debate as to the true origin of the hand signal and how it became popular. The roots are in island and surf culture and many of the legends involve a man whose middle three fingers were missing. Some say the man had his fingers bitten off by a shark, others say that the Spanish missionaries used the symbol to portray the sharing of libations. However, most believe that hawaiian folk legend Hamana Kalili was the originator. He lost a few of his fingers in an unfortunate sugar mill accident. Unable to perform his duties at the mill he, became a security guard for the sugar train. Children would often hop on and off the train hitching rides and he would signal to the train conductor when it was all clear to go with his pinky and thumb. And thus the “Shaka” was born! The Shaka became mainstream and exploded onto the scene in the 60’s and 70’s and was used in news broadcasts, car commercials, and political campaigns. Sharing the island values of “malama i kekahi i kekahi” (take care of one, take care of all), is what has kept the Shaka going.
Shaka and ziplining go hand in hand. When you are hanging from a wire 60 feet in the air you can’t help but be in the moment and appreciate the island. At Maui Zipline we cherish spreading the aloha lifestyle and throw the Shaka whenever we can. Come experience the real way to hang loose at the Maui Tropical Plantation and “Shaka brah!”

 

Article by: Jake Wagenman

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