Shaka Gesture Law


On June 24, 2024, after rare unanimous approvals in the Hawai’i House and Senate, Hawai’i Governor Josh Green signed a new Hawai’i law that adopts the Shaka as Hawai’iʻs Official State Gesture. It’s the first-ever official gesture by any state in America and a second big Shaka win along with our new Hawai’i DMV Shaka License Plate Program.

Mahalo to VitaminBStudios for this epic video recap!

Da Shaka Law

The new law adds a section to Chapter 5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes: “The shaka is adopted, established, and designated as the official gesture of the State… While multiple origin theories exist, all theories have the shaka developing within the State. More importantly, while multiple Hawai’i ethnic cultures and resident groups have contributed varying layers of meaning to the shaka, there is a shared agreement in the shaka’s positive sentiments and usage toward sharing aloha, fostering connection, and being pono… The legislature further finds that the shaka is a key brand symbol for the State, offering influential power to build the State’s economy, global brand, and resident pride.  As the shaka is now used around the world, this Act ensures that Hawai’i retains recognition as the birthplace of the shaka. It is therefore appropriate that the shaka be honored as the official gesture of the State to secure recognition of Hawai’i as the shaka’s place of origin, to preserve the meaning of the shaka as originated in Hawai’i, to preserve Hawaii’s brand association with the gesture, and to share the aloha spirit around the world.”

Shaka Monument

The new law authorizes the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to develop a public work of art related to the shaka and its history to be displayed in a prominent location in the State.


Steve Sue of Project Shaka and author the Shaka Bill stated: “In December of 2023 I noted to Senator Glenn Wakai that Hawai’i should claim the Shaka as the official state gesture. He agreed but declined to write the legislation as he had other bills to administer. So he gave me a template, I wrote the bill, he reviewed and submitted it, and the rest is as they say, ʻhistory.ʻ”

Senator Wakai sponsored the bill in the Hawai’i State Senate and Representative Sean Quinlan sponsored an identical companion bill in the House of Representatives. During the legislative session, Sue advocated the bill through multiple committees, successfully gaining rare unanimous approvals on both sides of the Legislature and culminating in the Governor signing the bill into law.

Sue, the producer and writer of Project Shakaʻs documentary on the shaka entitled, “Shaka, A Story of Aloha,” believes that the shaka, as Hawaiiʻs state gesture, “memorializes Hawaiʻi as the place of the shakaʻs origin” and “protects the shaka as part of Hawaiʻiʻs cultural heritage.” Sue also believes that the shaka is an important economic asset saying, “I challenge anyone to walk into an ABC Store and try not seeing a shaka. The shaka is leveraged by many businesses and products, providing jobs in Hawai’i.” Sue continued, “This is not just a feel-good measure. Other states could make claims such as Nevada as the ‘ninth island,’ California with its state sport of surfing (Hawaiʻiʻs is canoeing), and Texas wanting a bigger longhorn symbol with an outstretched thumb rather than index finger.”

Senator Wakai noted, “This is a historic event that beat the odds. In any given legislative cycle, fewer than 7% of bills pass, most dying in committee. And of the ones that pass, most are multi-year bills. For this bill to pass is a testament to grit and resourcefulness.” Wakai continues, “It’s a simple initiative, with a huge impact. The shaka captures the goodness of Hawai’i. It’s a ubiquitous gesture that is offered with the best of intentions.” Wakai added, “Since the shaka was born in Hawai’i it makes sense to claim it as our own. I bet you will see other states following Hawai’iʻs lead. Our world needs less hate and gunfire, and more Shakas!”

The Legislative Path

The Shaka State Gesture Law began as  SB3312 filed by Sen. Glenn Wakai along with companion bill HB2736 filed by Rep Sean Quinlan. Legislative Committees on the Senate and House sides were assigned to hear their respective bills, SB3312 heard by Senate Committees and HB2736 by House Committees. 

Senate Committees assigned included TCA (Transportation, Culture & Arts, Chaired by Sen Chris Lee). Committee members included Sen Loraine Inouye Vice Chair, Sen Brandon Elefante, Sen Dru Mamo Kanuha and Sen Brenton Awa.

House Committees assigned were:

Public support and comments testimony are important to passage by committees, thus we encouraged many to supblit testimony to each and every committee. Once all committees on one side of the Legislature passed the bill, all members on that side of the Legislature reviewed and voted upon as a floor vote which was deemed approved if a majority of members approved.

Once passed on either side of the Legislature, the bill “Crosses Over” meaning it it passed to the other side of the Legislature to repeat the committee hearing, review and floor vote process. Once the bill wa approved on both sides of the Legislature, it then goes to committee for final review, then to the Governorʻs desk for signature (he can sign it into law or veto it).



    Aloha through the Shaka