‘Shaka’ becomes Hawaii’s official hand gesture

The shaka becomes Hawaii's official hand gesture on June 24th, 2024. Courtesy: Shaka Projects

The shaka becomes Hawaii’s official hand gesture on June 24th, 2024. Courtesy: Shaka Projects

HONOLULU (KHON2) — From saying hello to thanking another driver for letting you in, the shaka has multiple meanings in Hawaii.

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On Monday, Governor Josh Green signed a new measure into law, making the iconic symbol the official state gesture.

The bill was first introduced in late January with a goal of sharing the pride of Hawaii as it is “one of the symbols that truly separates us from anywhere else across the world.”

“Anybody who’s spent any time in Hawaii understands the cultural issues and the happiness that this hand gesture conveys,” said Sen. Glenn Wakai (D) Salt Lake, Kalihi, Aliamanu. “Now, the challenge is to convey that to the rest of the world. If peace comes from Hawaii through a simple hand gesture, then why not take full advantage of that opportunity.”

According to ID8 nonprofit Chairperson, Steve Sue, the shaka is believed to have multiple origin stories from different points in time.

“It originated from here and if people here don’t even know where it came from, then we really have some work to do to ensure that Hawaii is credited for this gesture, that the Hawaii meanings are imbued to it and used around the world appropriately,” Sue said.

A study showed that 91% of locals do not know much about the shaka. Officials hope the newly signed law will help remind native Hawaiians of their roots.

Sue 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!”

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A pau hana celebration will be held at 1983 Indochine from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for the public to help kick off the shaka movement.

Anna Harden

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