Shaka Monument

“Share a Shaka” is a public art project and gift to the people of Hawai’i by Hawaii-based 501C3 non-profit Bizgenics. Bizgenics is providing the design and funding to build and install a 9’ tall Shaka monument. An appropriate location is being sought.

    The project grew out of “Shaka, A Story of Aloha”, a documentary produced by Bizgenics in association with Henry Kapono Foundation and Sight & Sound Hawai‘i. Kamehameha Schools is also involved as it provided first funding and cultural consultants. Noteworthy members of the film’s creative team include Grammy nominated music director Henry Kapono, award-winning Hawaiian Director Alex Boccheri, Co-Exec Producer Bryan Spicer (producer/director of Hawaii Five-O and Magnum PI) and Exec Producer/Producer Steve Sue. Additional Project Shaka programs include a thought leader Shaka Summit (suggested and moderated by First Lady Dawn Ige and additional sessions moderated by Senator Glenn Wakai), a free Shaka Sticker program (suggested by Vicky Cayetano), a Shaka Curriculum series (commissioned by the Hawaii Workforce Development Council and implemented at the State Youth Services Center), and a Hawaii Shaka License Plate program (suggested by Ryan Ozawa).

    The intent of the monument is to share the aloha spirit with the world. It will also provide a modern photo opportunity to build Hawaii’s brand in a strong and positive light.

      Shaka Monument Statue | Shaka Film Documentary by Bizgenics

      WAIKIKI Location

      The most meaningful site for the monument is Waikiki as the cultural melting pot location of all the groups that added meaning to the Shaka, particularly the sport of surfing which is credited for taking the Shaka around the globe. Practically speaking, the areas around the Duke Kahanamoku Statue are congested, so a location to the Diamond Head side of the existing Hula Mound is seen as a practical alternative.

      Shaka Monument Waikiki Location

      Through the production of the “Shaka, A Story of Aloha,” the Shaka has emerged as one of Hawaii’s great stories. While alternative origin stories abound, the most credible begins in La‘ie, Oahu with Kahuku Sugar Mill worker Hamana Kalihi. Visitors to the Hukilau of the 40’s and 50’s, organized by Kalili and Chef Sam Choy’s father, Hung Sam Choy, progressed the gesture to Honolulu.

      Once in Honolulu, the gesture picked up significant meaning in Waikiki through Lippy Espinda (Waikiki service station owner and entertainer), Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi (using it to campaign for office), and surfing (adding the slogan “Hang Loose” and propagating it to the world). The film features a key interview of retired Hawaii State Senator Fred Hemmings, aka “The Father of Pro Surfing,” 1960’s surfer for Duke Kahanamoku and organize of the Duke Kahanamoku Statue in Waikiki, who tells stories of the progression of modern surfing beginning in Waikiki with Duke Kahanamoku and the Outrigger Canoe Club (originally located between the Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian Hotel) then progressing to Makaha and later to North Shore. Surfing is also credited for adding the term, “Hang Loose” to the Shaka gesture.

      Many others beyond the surf community played roles in the story, such as the leading word origin theory that local Honolulu Japanese Americans who associated the meaning of the gesture (Fear not, it’s OK go for it”) with the Japanese Shakyamuni Buddha, coining the pidgin word, “Shaka.” Additional layers of meaning were added by Oahu drivers thanking others for letting them in the lane of traffic, popularizing the phrase “Right on the Kini Popo’ (righteousness) and also being popularized by The Bus digital signs. Also having a hand in progressing the popularity of the Shaka is KHON2 News that for three decades has featured a Shaka sign-off to Keola & Kapono Beamers’ “Kaliponi Slack Key.”

      The Design

      The monument is designed to achieve the following:

      • An “Aloha ’aina” Frame: The monument is a statement of aloha ’aina designed as a permeable frame to honor and serve the land and sea beyond. We see this as an “un-monument” of sorts unlike traditional monuments that are designed as barrier backdrops.
      • Iconic & Timeless: the design represents a pure expression of the Shaka gesture to create a city asset that will stand the test of time.
      • Non-Glare Powder-Coating (optional colors): A highly-durable metallic powder-coat finish over marine-grade aluminum (3/16th thick) is recommended by local artisans to withstand any oceanfront location. Powder-coating finishes allow for ambient color reflection without causing the glare of a polished monument. Mat finishes come in a variety of colors and are a more casual presentation that is in keeping with the casual nature of Hawai’i.
      • Insulation Filled Bulkheads: Fabricators have recommended that the monument be built in bulkheads with foam filling inside to discourage people from hitting the surface to make sound.
      • No Lighting: For greatest consistency with the concept of being an “aloha ’aina” frame, the monument should NOT be lit. At dusk, the silhouette is consistent with other objects in a foreground skyline. At night, lighting the face of the monument would effectively make it a barrier to the view beyond (consider moon lit nights, stars or lights beyond) however minimal uplighting might be useful depending upon the location. One exception to face lighting the monument is the use of temporary show lighting for special occasions such as shows at the Hula Mound (brush stainless steel is a superior finish for scenic lighting).
      • “Kupe‘e Lei” Landscape Surround & Base: Ferns or other shrubs representative of a “kupe‘e lei” will encircle the surrounding landscape area to discourage the public from making direct contact with the monument. A 24” rest-resistant raised base will receive the monument.

      Commemoration Plaque: If allowed, a plaque telling the story of the Shaka and possibly recognizing donating organizations will be included.


      Key maintenance considerations of the design include:

      • Vandal Resistant: Minimal surface area minimizes the threat of graffiti. Impermeable powder coated aluminum makes it easy to remove paint and other substances. Placing it in a highly public location reduced the threat of vandalism.
      • Bird Resistant: birds do not like glaring light or being on hot objects, thus somewhat reflective metal in a sunny location minimizes the threat of birds.
      • Climbing Resistant: The height, shape, rounded edges and surface slickness discourage climbing. The height of the top members was calculated to be out of reach for the vast majority of people. The shape was calculated to be too large a diameter for most people to be able to encircle. Rounded edge radii were calculated to eliminate finger holds for most people. The metallic surface is slick thus difficult to gain traction on. In the sun, the monument will conduct heat, making it uncomfortable to touch. Installing it on a raised footing with surrounding shrubbery discourages people from getting close to the monument.
      • Maintenance Options: Stainless steel will not rust, even at an oceanfront location. The design features minimal surface areas thus less likely to be defaced. And “no-touch” surrounding landscape/hardscape minimizes maintenance. That said, while annual buffing is not anticipated for stainless steel monuments, an extremely conservative approach to cover defacements is proposed as a cash endowment of $15,000 lump sum to fund one day of buffing per year (at 5% annual interest, the fund provides enough funds for one day per year at $93/hour). Fund options include:
        • 1-Time Lump Sum Payment to Host Organization: This could be the State, City, neighborhood organization or property owner depending upon where the monument is installed.

      Project Shaka DAF: Bizgenics is opening a Donor Advised Fund to hold funds from all Project Shaka initiatives. This fund could be tasked with maintaining the monument.


      The monument will be fabricated on Oahu by local metal fabricators artists. Key candidates have already consulted on the design concept.

      GUARANTEED Funding

      Bizgenics guarantees a budget of $250K in up-front funding for this program out of general funding. Individuals, companies and organizations will be invited to donate to the funding budget but are not required to execute this project. Contact Us »


        The goal is to install the monument and hold a dedication to be featured in “Shaka, A Story of Aloha”:

        • Fabrication: July-Oct, 2022.
        • Installation: Nov-Dec, 2022.
        • Dedication Ceremony: Early 2023.
        • Film Release: Second Quarter 2023.

        About the Artist

        Steve Sue is a resident of Honolulu and the Writer/Producer/Executive Producer of “Shaka, A Story of Aloha.” Through the production, he has become a leading expert on the origin and meanings of the Shaka. He’s also the Founder and Chairman of Bizgenics, a Hawaii-based 501C3 nonprofit that specializes in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship programs, and a partner in SaaS Ventures, a software development firm. Prior to Bizgenics, Steve was a conceptual designer of global reach in live entertainment, casino-resort, theme park, foodservice, retail and corporate branding. His conceptual work became so well known that AutoDesk licensed his hand-drawing style as the conceptual look in AutoCAD products. Locally, he is known as the creator of ChefZone and a branding consultant to Waikiki Trolley, Kualoa, and other island companies. He holds degrees from UCLA (BA Design, glass sculpture & computer graphics) and UC Berkeley (JD Law).

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