HONOLULU (June 24, 2024) — A new Hawai’i law establishing the shaka as Hawai’iʻs official State gesture was signed into law by Hawai’i Governor Josh Green this past Friday. It’s the first-ever official gesture adopted by any state in America and a second big win this year by Hawai’i non-profit ID8 and itʻs Project Shaka movement which also launched a new Hawai’i Shaka License Plate program last month.

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.”

Public Art Piece Authorized

While there is no budget appropriation, 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.

Origin of the Shaka Gesture Bill

On the origin of the bill, Sue stated: “Last December I noted to Senator 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 a 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, “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!”