Surf City, Sydney

an Historic Houses Trust blog

Ockanui or O’Ke Nui…?


No one knows where the word ‘ockanui’ comes from or exactly what kind of board it refers to. Probably Australian, and therefore likely to be either a mangled and misspelt ‘foreign’ term or a willfully bastardised throw-away creation that stuck. Ether way, the name ‘ockanui’ has probably survived because its easy to say and has a catchy opening syllable. It appeared at a time of escalating interest in Hawaiian culture and custom as the islands were preparing to become a bona fide state of America in 1959 and refers generally to a finned timber board, either hollow or solid, though mostly hollow. Bruce Channon tells me that it could well relate to the small laneway called Ke Nui Road, running parallel to the Kamehameha Highway at Pupukea on the north shore of Oahu, overlooking the famed Pipeline and Sunset Beach breaks. Adding the traditional “O” (meaning “this”) at the beginning gives us O’Ke Nui… could this be the answer…?

Written by garycrockett

February 5th, 2011 at 5:57 am

Posted in 1950s,exhibition

2 Responses to 'Ockanui or O’Ke Nui…?'

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  1. Gary, I have reassessed what you wrote above about the Ke Nui road reference. That was a theory offered to me (via Bob Smith) by “Claw” Warbrick of Rip Curl fame. Recently I saw the word in Peter Troy’s book “To the Four Corners of the World”, as “okanui”. It was also shown in that book in a newspaper cutting from the time spelled as “okanui”. I have only seen it spelt “okinuee” in the surfresearch website and the author of that is only a cut and paste guy who seems to have taken it from a magazine article by Ross Renwick, back in the day. Four or so years ago, at a surfboard maker’s forum at the Noosa Festival of Surfing, Gordon Woods said the word came from “ocka” as in “Aussie” and “nui” being a “new” board, made to sound like an Hawaiian word. I thought at the time he was joking. However, I recently saw an interview with Bill Wallace on Noosa Longboards website and Bill repeats what Gordon says, and adds that he thinks it was made up by Bondi legend, Bluey Mayes. As Gordon and Bill were both at the forefront of making the boards I think it was probably a word that was said more than written, and any spelling is probably correct. I’m now going with “okanui” as both Troy and Bill Wallace had it that way.

    Bruce Channon

    9 May 13 at 1:49 am

  2. Hi Bruce – great to hear from you – so sorry about this reply being 7 months old as your message lost among the hundreds of spammers. It sounds like a Bluey Mayes expression and Gordon and Bill’s stamp of approval should be good enough for anyone.

    Gary Crockett

    18 Feb 14 at 3:04 am

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