I met Mainei Kinimaka just over 2 years ago. She was the first teenager I had met in a long time who didn’t have her eyes glued to instagram. A straight ‘A’ student who wants to finish her studies before travelling full time on the WQS Mainei truly loves surfing. She surfs all types of different surfboards, has an amazing surfing family and grew up amongst some of the heaviest core Hawaiian locals there are.

Mainei grew up on the east coast of Kauai where she learnt to surf with her dad, Titus, and sister, Maluhia.

“My full first name is Maineialoha. It comes from my grandfatherʻs generation and it was a term used to describe the pleasant variable winds. It was also the name of a song that my grandfather used to sing. Essentially, it means “gentle breeze of love”.

“I can’t imagine what my life would be like without the ocean. Living on a small island like Kaua’i, you’re always a stone’s throw from the beach, so that’s where everyone spends there spare time. Growing up, the beach was our playground and our second home. I spent every day running rampant at Hanalei Pier with my sister and our friends. When we weren’t surfing, we were building forts of driftwood, climbing trees or or jumping off the pier. It was a really simple and wholesome life, and it was all because of the ocean. Without it I would be an entirely different person.”

Mainei Kinimaka“Being a Kanaka Maoli, or Native Hawaiian, is something I’m very proud of. I love my culture, my home, and my family more than anything. Surfing is a major way I connect with my heritage, but for me, every moment spent in nature on Kaua’i is an opportunity to learn, connect and reflect on my part as a Kanaka. I’m extremely grateful to be able to travel the world for surfing, and I hope to be a good representative of Native Hawaiians, and a positive example for Hawaiian keiki. I’m always looking to learn more about my culture, and I’m currently in college working towards achieving my major in Hawaiian Language.

“My family keeps our culture alive by being in the ocean. Surfing, swimming, paddling canoe, and fishing are just a few. I have 16 aunts and uncles, and they each have their own ways of perpetuating our heritage. For  example, my aunties, Kapu and Keala, are both masters of Hula. They pass their knowledge on through their many students throughout the years.”

Mainei Kinimaka“I’d like to inspire women to be strong, fun, and proud of their individuality. I’d like to show that you don’t have to follow the beaten path, that paving your own way and embracing your who you are is exciting and confidence-building. It’s so easy to compare and get caught up in everything we see on social media that a lot of the time we forget that all that really matters is ourselves and what makes us happy. For me, being active, spending time outdoors and learning makes me feel empowered and keeps things fun. I always try to stay true to myself and what makes me happy. I hope that other women will do the same.”

Story produced by Summersite

All pics: Cait Miers