Hana Surf Girls Trailer (2010)


Trailer for the documentary Hana Surf Girls.

Hana Surf Girls takes audiences into the isolated town of Hana, located on the quiet eastern edge of Maui. Two hours from the next town, it is often referred to as the “Last Hawaiian Place.” More than 60 percent of its 2000 residents remain of Hawaiian ancestry. Men still make nets by hand, fishermen sell fresh ahi by the side of the road, and children take hula lessons. There are no malls and no McDonalds — just a couple of small markets, a gas station, and a post office. It also hosts the largest and oldest Polynesian holy site in the Hawaiian Islands.

Here, we meet Monyca Byrne-Wickey. Born 17 years before to parents who had fled the mainland and settled in Hana, she has been surfing since she was 11 years old. Along with a loose assortment of other surfers from Maui and Kauai, she is preparing for the annual Hana Surfing Games. Organized by four local moms, it is the antithesis of the modern corporate surf competition. The Hana Surfing Games epitomize everything that is Hana, and Monyca herself: purity, groundedness, a healthy lifestyle, and an appreciation of community and family.

The only thing missing from the Games this year is Lipoa Kahaleuahi. The valedictorian of her Hana High class the year before, she has left Hana for college at UC Santa Barbara. At first, she feels out-of-place at the upscale, So Cal campus, but she embraces the sense of being on her own outside of the nest. Even so, she feels a tug back toward Hana. There have been problems in her family, and her father is no longer living at home. Gifted from birth with a impulse to help, and take care of, she feels she can’t truly move on in her new life while there is strife back home.

Both girls find themselves on the California coast in June. Monyca has just graduated from Hana High, and Lipoa has completed her first full year of college. For Monyca, the Nationals are especially important because she is hoping to build a career for herelf as a pro surfer. They will both compete in the NSSA National Competition in San Clemente and Dana Point. Monyca is still an amateur, and Lipoa is on the UCSB Surf Team. Both prove their prowess in the water. Their advantage? Growing up hiking, fishing, surfing, diving, and being outside all the time, they have a built-in understanding of the rhythms of nature.

Soon they are both back in Hana for the summer. It is like the calm before storm for both of them. Lipoa works with subtlety and intuition to heal a rift in her family and bond again with her father, so that she may return to school in the fall with a sense of wholeness. Monyca watches many of her classmates from high school leaving to go to university, and the pressure is on her to develop a surf career. Both girls strive to create an adult life in which they remain true to their Hana roots, but develop their strength to move on and become independent. Their quest is deeply affected by Hana’s strong power of the land, mana, and by their own inner strength and resilience.

2 min 44 sec


Posted On
February 17, 2010
Russ Spencer

Russ Spencer


February 11, 2010
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