Shaka: Hawaii is the first US State to adopt an official gesture | Photo: Torobekov/Creative Commons

The shaka gesture is about to become the official gesture of the State of Hawaii.

Hawaii House Bill 2736 HD2, introduced by Senator Glenn S. Wakai, which proposed the adoption, establishment, and designation of the shaka as the official gesture of the State, passed the Hawaii State Legislature on May 1, 2024.

Consequently, Governor Josh Green will decide whether to sign it into law and make it effective and valid across the Hawaiian archipelago.

However, Green has already supported the shaka bill and is expected to ratify the document in June.

It's an unprecedented decision, as a gesture has never been confirmed as the official symbol of a US state.

The approved bill notes that while various ethnic cultures and resident groups in Hawaii have added different layers of meaning to the shaka, there is a shared agreement on its positive sentiments and use in sharing aloha, fostering connections, and promoting pono (righteous living).

The legislature also recognizes that the shaka is a significant brand symbol for the State, with the power to enhance the State's economy, global image, and resident pride.

As the shaka is now used worldwide, the Act wanted to ensure that Hawaii retains recognition as its birthplace and preserves its original meaning.

The shaka hand gesture has several meanings and has become a sign used worldwide in many cultures.

Several theories exist about the origins of the hang-loose signal, which has always been associated with Hawaiian culture.

Shaka License Plates

Meanwhile, Hawaii has launched shaka-themed license plates through the Shaka License Plate Program, initiated by the nonprofit ID8.

The program aims to promote an aloha spirit on roads, reduce road rage, and benefit both locals and visitors.

Available at any DMV office statewide, the plates cost $30.50 initially and $25 annually, with $20 of the renewal fee going to ID8.

The plates are not customizable and must be registered as new.

The program needs at least 150 annual renewals for three years to continue.

The initiative, two years in the making, involved collaboration with all five state counties.

It is the first organizational plate since the 2018 Hawaii Says No More plate.

State Senator Glenn Wakai, who introduced the bill to designate the shaka as the official state gesture, supports the program.

ID8 emphasized the cultural importance of the shaka and announced a related documentary to be released at the end of the year.

The program's early success saw 50 plates issued on the first day at the Honolulu DMV.

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