story by Ashley Stepanek
photo by Chris McDonough
On the Hana Highway entering Pa‘ia, on the makai (ocean) side of the road, sits the Nalu Pohaku Stonewave Sk8park, which looks like a little piece of Manhattan dropped by the beach. Stonewave is part-graffiti jungle and part-grommet hangout, a place that looks rougher than it really is, a safe haven for skateboarders. And the tricks! Spine transfer. Disaster. Board slide. Front-side air: You can see them all, as each skater pumps speed, rhythm and style into his board—though, of course, while wearing a helmet.
Open to all ages (currently, the oldest skater is 55), Nalu Pohaku, or “stone wave,” attracts most of its members from the Pa‘ia Youth & Cultural Center. “Being here helps with teen angst,” says skatepark director Blaze Anderson, scanning the park’s 10,750-square-foot concrete wonderland of curves and edges and drops—in technical terms, “bowls,” “pipes” and even something called a “twinkie.”
Anderson’s been skating since 1972, having grown up in Los Angeles during the Dogtown era, skateboarding’s first heyday. He was a member of LA’s Aloha Skate Town until it was bulldozed during a push to ban the sport. “I remember saying, ‘One day, I’m going to have a park of my own.’ Aloha Skate Town was a Hawaiian-themed park, and it’s cute that I ended up by default getting this.”
What Anderson calls “default” is really vision and persistence. He started pursuing grants, lobbying politicians and raising funds in 1996. Designs were developed from ’99 to ’01 with the help of top Canadian skatepark designer Jim Barnum. Anderson hired the crew that built most of the concrete pools and street courses for skatepark company, Vans. “They were really into it,” Anderson recalls. “They all skate.”
After two years of construction, Stonewave is up and rolling, and skateboarding celebs like Ryan Sheckler, PLG, pro female skater/snowboarder Carabeth Burnside, even the venerable Tony Hawk have come to throw an Indy 720 or kickflip. Local skaters made it on to MTV’s Maui Fever. But, ultimately, the park is for people who go there daily, striving to push themselves to their limit and beyond. As Anderson says, “Everybody is a star. You only have to prove something to yourself.”
Nalu Pohaku Stonewave Sk8park