May 4 is the birthday of Hawaiian hero Eddie Aikau, born this day in 1946.
He was an intrepid North Shore surfer and lifeguard whose willingness to brave the often fearsome Pacific Ocean saved many lives. His love of Hawaii and desire to preserve and resuscitate Hawaiian spirit and pride are evident in the one part of the above clip in which Eddie Aikau can be heard speaking for himself.
It was these two powerful aspects of his personality that tragically led to his disappearance at sea, when he set out alone to paddle for help, on the third voyage of the Polynesian Voyaging Society traditional vessel Hokule'a, after the Hokule'a had capsized twelve to fifteen miles from shore, and after he and the other members of the crew had waited ten hours in the water without sign of rescue.
His heroic life is truly an inspiration and an example to all people.
One incident of his life that is not as often mentioned, but which also illustrates his stature and the respect that he commanded, was his negotiation of a reconciliation of the tense and violent situation that had developed on the North Shore surrounding the sometimes disrespectful remarks and published statements from non-Hawaiian surfers, as related in the movie Bustin' Down the Door. The situation is described in detail in the film, beginning around the 55:00-minute mark (although to truly do the story justice, the entire film prior to that point should be seen).
At about 1:12:00 in the film, Rabbit Bartholomew and Ian Cairns, who had published some of the most provocative statements and become the principle targets of those who wanted revenge, describe how they were holed up in a South Shore hotel (in danger of their lives) and heard a knock on the door.
Rabbit: There was a knock on the door one day, and we opened up the door, Ian's -- I'm there, and Ian's behind me with a tennis racket -- and it was Eddie Aikau.Ian: And he just came in and said, 'Look -- you know there are men, men with knives and guns, that want to kill you, for the things you've said in the magazines . . .'Rabbit: And he said, 'But, it's gone too far, it's gone beyond the North Shore, it's gone into a much heavier element,' and he said, 'My family, my Dad -- Pops Aikau -- has sent me in, to try to calm the waters a bit here, because it's a very, very serious situation for you two.'Clyde Aikau: We did what the Hawaiians called a ho'o pono pono; a ho'o pono pono is, you know, if you've got people who don't agree on something, somehow you bring them, you bring them to your home and then you sit them down and you just hash it out.
This action of reconciliation, in which Eddie Aikau can be seen once again as the one who went into the "stormy waters" of a very intensely-charged situation, was extremely significant for the history of surfing. It is no exaggeration to say that he probably saved lives by his actions, as well as to say that he may have prevented the derailment of the start of modern professional surfing.
In this incident, just as in the other brave actions he took during his life, Eddie Aikau can be seen to have acted to preserve the dignity, respect, and world-famous Spirit of Aloha of Hawaii and the Hawaiian people and culture.
Our prayers are with the Aikau family this day.
Rest in peace -- Respect.