What a year for Hawaiʻi surfer, Zeke Lau, who recently qualified for the 2017 World Championship Tour and who has taken his surfing career a step further by hosting his first Makahiki.
“Heʻenalu means everything to me. It defines who I am and what I do and it’s my way of life it’s our gift as Hawaiʻi to the world and I’m just honored to be the one sharing it with everyone,” says Ezekiel “Zeke” Lau, one of Hawaiʻi’s very own pro surfers.
“Hawaiʻi has his back and he’s carrying Hawaiʻi on his back as well,” says his former Kamehameha School surfing coach, Daniel Ikaika Ito, with pride. “I’m just so proud of Zeke and seeing how far he’s come as an adult and what he represents to Kamehameha Schools and the Kamehameha surf team, just seeing him grow as a man and being able to champion the culture as well as the sport of kings has been really cool to be a part of.”
Zeke has competed in many World Surf League contests, the most recent is the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which is the conclusion of the 2016 Qualifying Series and is where he qualified for a spot on the 2017 Samsung Galaxy Men’s Championship Tour.
“I’d like to give a big shout out to Kanoa Igarashi, my good friend from Huntington Beach, you know, he was the one that pulled through and is the reason why I get to be on tour next year, so really stoked!” says Zeke. “I’ve always just wanted to represent Hawaiʻi, that’s all I want to do with everything that I do and I just want to represent Hawaiʻi to the best of my ability and you know, that’s why I picked this sport and this path of life is to represent Hawaiʻi.”
Representing Hawaiʻi is just one part of the bigger picture that Ito sees for Zeke’s future. “I think what Zeke will take with him around the world as a strong Hawaiian is the culture with more aloha and in a “ma ka hana ka ʻike” in a learn by doing and i think he’s really done that with the makahiki.”
Zeke has taken his kuleana a step further in his surfing career by hosting the first annual Zeke’s Makahiki, which was recently held on the North Shore of Oʻahu.
“Going around the world, I’ve gone to a lot of surfing events and places like Tahiti and Fiji and Indonesia and you know, they have a welcoming ceremony that welcomes all of the surfers to their land and opens them up to their culture and embraces them so I feel like it’s only fitting to have the birthplace of surfing to have something traditional like that that welcomes all these surfers from all around the world and you know, embrace them with our culture,”
Ito also sees it from another perspective. “I think what Zeke gained from the Makahiki is a confidence to share the culture with his peers when it comes to professional surfing, and also making that connection between the Hawaiian community as well as the pro surfing community… we have a shared ancestry as far as surfers and kanaka maoli and I think we need to celebrate that as much as we can”
“It was awesome to really get in touch with my community and new relationships that we built along the way and you know, I’m just grateful for that,” says Zeke.
Participants of the event included 11-Time World Champion Surfer, Kelly Slater: “You know this is cool! I think this is something that will last long term, you know, it’d be something that everyone looks forward to every year.”
“It’s just so cool to see Zeke and just the amount of aloha that he had for the keiki as well as his fellow surfers, I think everybody felt it and everybody had a great time and is excited to have another event like that next year,” says Ito.
“We’re looking to making it a yearly thing that opens up the surf season but we couldn’t do Zeke’s Makahiki without the support of Kamehameha schools, OHA, Quiksilver and my friends and family who supported me the whole way,” says Zeke with much mahalo. “I hope that it opens up a curiosity for the Hawaiian culture and an appreciation for the originators of Heʻenalu.”