Surfing sports have always been quite prominent in Hawai’i. They were performed by everyone — chiefs, common people, both male, and female, across different generations.
They were practicing this sport as worship to their deity. Traditions about the goddess Hi’iakaikapoliopele, also known as Hiiaka, and her surfing skill back up this theory.
River surfing by Native Hawaiians is mentioned multiple times in the Epic Tale of Hi’iakaikapoliopele.
In 1905 and 1906, the Hawaiian-language newspaper Ka Na’i Aupuni printed this rendition of the story as a regular series. Hiiaka recalls males and females surfing the river mouth in Hilo, Hawai’i Island, in one passage. She mentions “The females who surf the river channels” in numerous of her songs calling for the murder of Maui’s monarch, ‘Olepau. Hiiaka addresses Waimea overseer and supernatural form changer Pili’a’ama directly as “Surfer of the river mouth of Waimea” in a passage about the Waimea River on Oahu.
The epic was translated by Puakea Nogelmeier in 2006.