The Nineteenth Century was a time when many Hawaiian recreational pastimes and customs – not just surfing – nearly faded into oblivion. Some, in fact, did. During the 1800s, an entire spectrum of ancient Hawaiian customs and aspects of traditional lifestyle declined dramatically or disappeared altogether due to the combined cultural, political and religious imperialism brought upon the Hawaiians by mostly well-meaning Europeans.
This non-military assault damaged the entire traditional Hawaiian social fabric to such a degree that even today restorations continue and success at full restoration takes time. “Sports, games, Kapa-making, ritual dancing, canoe-building – all were to disappear,” wrote Finney and Houston, “just as the Hawaiian’s smooth dark skin disappeared under gaudy gingham from the holds of early trading ships.”
What happened to the many hundreds if not thousands of olo, alaia, kiko‘o and paipo surfboards? What was it that caused the Hawaiians of the 1800s to cease the sport they alone had developed to such a high peak through so many generations?
"The 1800's: Surfing's Darkest Days" tells that story in detail. Please click on the image to download the chapter in PDF format: