Meet Oahu’s Surf Professor: Teaching Culture through Surf

His teachings are place-based and founded on Hawaiian cultural concepts

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Ian Akahi Masterson, also known as the Surf Professor, teaches courses at University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Windward Community College (WCC), and a number of other high schools and universities across the state.

He has led numerous culture-based trainings for community organizations such as Hui O Ko’olaupoko, Hui Mālama O Ke Kai, Hakipu’u Learning Center, Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club, Outrigger Canoe Club, Punahou School, City & County of Honolulu Parks & Recreation Division, and the Kamehameha Schools Teachers Institute. He was a USLA beach lifeguard for Water Safety at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Headquarters for ten years, and he is guitarist for the roots reggae band Dread Ashanti.

Masterson received his Masters of Arts Degree in Pacific Islands Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Hailing from Ko’olaupoko, O’ahu, this lifelong learner has spent over twenty years as an educator, ocean recreation and safety specialist, archeologist, and Hawaiian cultural practitioner. He has developed and taught curriculum for courses in Pacific Surf Science and Technology, Polynesian Surf Culture, Pacific Islands Studies, Mythology of the Hawaiian Landscape, Environmental History of Hawai’i, Ocean Safety Education and Recreational Thrill Craft Operators Education at WCC since 1999, as well as Cultural Anthropology and Marine Science at Hawaii Pacific University for nine years since 2004.

When Kumu Masterson is not on the farm with his family, fellow surfers and nature lovers may catch sight of him at a different beach location on any Saturday of the semester with his Island Surfing Sites students, or hiking the trails with his Punahou Middle School keiki (children) during the summer for his Hawaiian Sust’ĀĪNAbility course. You might even find him giving a surfing lesson somewhere out on the sea, or supporting Uncle Clyde Aikau as his Surfboard Caddy during the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Surfing Competition held at Waimea Bay!

His passionate teachings are place-based and founded on Hawaiian cultural concepts that are deeply rooted in nature, the spirit of aloha, and the belief that we are all comprised of one ‘ohana (family). ‘E he’e-ana kākou! (“Let’s all go surfing together!”)

You can also follow him on Facebook and Instagram: @thesurfprofessor