Museum Gets Captain Cook Era Hawaiian Surfboard On Loan

By Jess Rickenback | 14 October 2005
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Shows a black and white photo of Hawaiian High Chief Abner Paki wearing a suit and white shirt and holding a cane.

High Chief Abner Paki, whose giant koa wood surfboard is coming to Europe for the first time.

A Hawaiian surfboard that could date back to Captain Cook’s exploration of the islands in 1778 is going on display in his hometown.

Organised by the Surfing Museum, Brighton, the mammoth four and a half metres (14 and a half feet) board will be displayed in the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Middlesbrough between October 21 2005 and March 19 2006 in its first ever European visit.

Shows a photo of the exterior of the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum.

The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum charts the explorer's early life and later adventures.

“This is the first time Cook’s link with surfing has been truly celebrated, and what a way to do it,” Peter Robinson, director of the Surfing Museum said. “The Hawaiians are sending us the jewel in the crown of their heritage.”

The board itself used to be ridden by a high chief in the largest of the Hawaiian swells. Now the 67kg (148lb) plank will form the centrepiece of an exhibition of British surfing history, opening on Cook’s birthday and charting his ‘surfari’.

Shows a photo of a row of historic surfboards at the Surfing Museum in Brighton.

The Surfing Museum in Brighton holds a fascinating collection of boards, old and new, as well as surf ephemera. © 24 Hour Museum.

On loan for five months from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, the surfboard was ridden by high chief Abner Paki around 1830. During its restoration it was discovered to date back to the time of Cook’s arrival in Hawaii.

The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Middlesbrough, will host an overview of British surfing, including the recent development of eco-friendly balsa boards made by Cornwall’s Eden Project.

Captain Cook’s logs provided the first description of surfing over 220 years ago. It has since become an international pursuit, developing in Britain during the early 1900s.

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