POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 20, 2010
Clarence "Mac" Maki, a pioneer of in-water surf photography and the last person to capture a photo of Duke Kahanamoku riding a wave, died Oct. 21. He was 86.
An avid surfer, Maki taught hundreds of people to surf and started the only annual surf contest for children in Waikiki in the 1960s, said family friend John Clark, a historian and author of books on Hawaii's beaches.
Clark and Maki became friends when Maki taught him how to surf in 1954.
"He was a great guy," Clark said. "He really liked to teach children how to surf. He was very patient and thorough in his surf instructions.
"He did it because he loved it," he said.
Maki had an interest in photography as a child and started taking surf photos from the water in 1950.
Maki got the idea to put his camera in waterproof housing after watching a man shoot photos from a surfboard. The man photographed a surfer, then threw his camera into a plywood box when the wave came, Clark said.
Maki drew up a design to house his Rolleiflex camera in plastic and gave it to a friend who owned a plastics company. Maki added two attachments to the housing for the shutter and the film-advance crank. Then he put four suction cups on the bottom of the plastic housing to attach it to his surfboard, and paddled out at Waikiki.
Before that time, photos of surfers were taken from outrigger canoes, Clark said.
Many of Maki's photos appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser. Three of them won grand prizes in the Kodak International Newspaper Snapshot Contest in 1957, 1971 and 1974, according to his family.
On Aug. 24, 1954, Maki took the last known photo of Duke Kahanamoku surfing.
That day, Maki had returned to the beach after taking photos at Canoes off Waikiki, Clark recalled him saying. Kahanamoku walked up and asked whether he had any shots left. Maki had two, and Kahanamoku, saying it was his 64th birthday, asked Maki to take his picture.
The two paddled out to Canoes with Maki sitting about 100 feet from Kahanamoku.
Kahanamoku caught a wave and rode it straight at Maki, who got the shot and paddled in. The next day, the photo appeared in the Advertiser and later on the cover of the book "Duke of Hawaii," by Joe Brennan.
Maki, who was an information and complaint officer under the Blaisdell and Fasi administrations, was also a city photographer before retiring in 1979.
He worked in Hawaii's film industry from 1958 to 1991, helping on the set of movies, such as "Blue Hawaii" and "Fists of Steel," and TV series, such as "Hawaii Five-0," "Fantasy Island," "Magnum P.I." and "Jake and the Fatman."
He is survived by wife Edna; sons David and Russell; daughters Laura Chong, Rosalind Vance and Anne Roberts; sisters Virginia Cuskaden and Ethel Funasaki; several grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A celebration of his life will be in Maunakea Chapel at Borthwick Mortuary today. Visitation at 9 a.m. and service at 10 a.m. A scattering of Maki's ashes will be at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow off the Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki.