ENTRY FOR 05/14/2006

Nalu, Buffalo and Hawaii Connection?

Hawaiian Buffalo - NaluSeveral years back I purchased a few shirts from Hilo Hatti, a Hawaiian specialty store. I loved the quality of the shirts but was perplexed by the logo.

About a year after wearing the shirts around town a lady noticed the and asked if I was from Hawaii. I said no but since she was from there I asked her what the heck a buffalo and the word "nalu" had to do with one another. She said "nalu" was a Hawaiian word that meant "strength" and could also be used to describe a buffalo. I was so happy to finally have the mystery solved although it still seemed odd to even have a buffalo on the shirt. How could such an unlikely animal end up associated with Hawaiian culture in the first place?

Since then I told inquiring people that "nalu" was the Hawaiian word for strength or buffalo. One day I was wearing the shirt while visiting with my friend and cousin-in-law, Stanielsan. Thankfully, he was much more knowledgeable about this and informed me that "nalu" meant "wave". He assured me that the lady who told me it meant strength was mistaken. So I sat there corrected but was back to my original confusion of what the connection was!

Richard Buffalo KeaulanaSo I decided to start googling the matter determined to lay this mystery to rest once and for all.

That's when I became aware of Richard "Buffalo" Keaulana one of Hawaii's legendary surfers. So it began to come together... nalu means wave, surfers ride waves, and a surfer from Hawaii is nicknamed "Buffalo". Cool!

So has the mystery finally been laid to rest? I can't be certain this is the exact connection, but it sure makes a lot more sense than anything I've come across so far. Here is a write up about the "Buffalo":

Richard "Buffalo" Keaulana (1934- )

"I'm thankful I got a big nickname", says this consummate waterman. His big name fits a large life–he's been a world-champion body surfer, pulled hundreds out of the churn at Makaha Beach, steered the Hokule'a on its first voyage and has been inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame.

His biggest contributions, though, have been to generations of young people. "He had a vision to get kids involved with the ocean, to teach them how to conserve," says Craig Inouye, a family friend. "He's a man rich in heritage. Everyone in the ocean looks up to him. [He and his wife, Momi] hanaied so many kids and converted them into productive citizens."

According to Robert "Bunky" Bakutis, a longtime supporter of the event Buffalo Keaulana founded, the Buffalo's Big Board Classic, the event gives people "a sense of the beauty of their own place. It elevated surfing. He's carried that respect for the ocean."

"It's great to feel you have your Hawaiian culture with you. I'm glad I'm still in the water," Keaulana says.

Source: Honolulu Magazine


aloha! I didn't know they had Hilo Hattie's in CA! Whenever we'd go to Maui we'd walk in there and rob them of their free puka necklaces to bring back as gifts, they do that in CA?


and for what it's worth, I've never seen the buffalo associated with HH, I'm even more puzzled than you are :)

Posted by Jason @ 05/16/2006 08:27 PM PST

Wella informs me that they do have the puka necklaces.

Yeah, what a strange connection. I'll certainly let you know if I ever get more info on this. Maybe the next time we're in the store I'll ask them what's the deal.

Posted by Bugs @ 05/17/2006 05:13 AM PST

be sure you ask them about that buffalo surfer guy's hairpiece. I'm fairly certain it's a bleached coconut.

Posted by Jason @ 06/05/2006 07:52 PM PST

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