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Beaglehole (1967); as quoted in "Surfing, a History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport," by Ben Finney and James D.
Houston (1996, Pomgranate Artbooks, San Francisco). Forced to migrate into the vast region by the push of population and the pull of the horizon, the first Polynesians arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in the fourth century A. The Polynesians who made the arduous journey from Tahiti and the Marquesas to Hawai'i were necessarily exceptional watermen and women who brought a deep love and knowledge of the ocean with them.
Photograph courtesy of Malcolm Gault-Williams, from the chapter, Wallace "Wally" Froiseth: Legendary Hot Curl Surfer, in Legendary Surfers: A Definitive History of Surfing's Culture and Heroes, By Malcolm Gault-Williams.
From 1956 to 1986, Froiseth made approximately 150 paipo boards, which he sold to friends and other surfers, putting a decal on each board to identify it as his product. by Froiseth." Froiseth sold some of his boards to surfers from California, which helped to introduce the word and its spelling outside of Hawai`i, and today paipo is the accepted term for wooden bodyboards.
No one before him, however, had ever spelled pae po, so without the benefit of seeing the word in print, Froiseth spelled it as he heard it, pai po. Additional note by John Clark: "Wally made his first Hawaiian Pai Po Board in December 1955, but he didn't like the way it rode.
The pronunciation of the original word, paepo'o, was altered, and now even the spelling is changed to paipo. Published by Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1977. He notes that while it's true that "paepo" can be translated as "night landing" (as noted in the mo‘olelo by Alfred Solomon), Clark has since learned that the original word was actually "pae po'o".
Today "to paipo" means to go bodysurfing with a "bellyboard." The board itself is called a paipo board."Source: page 9 in The Beaches of O'ahu, By John R. The following is from the manuscript: In the earliest descriptions of surfboards by Hawaiian scholars, the smallest boards, those that were shorter than six feet in length, were generically called papa li`ili`i, or "small boards." During the early 1900s, the name papa li`ili`i was changed on two fronts with non-Hawaiian surfers calling them bellyboards, because they were most often ridden prone, the rider laying on his or her "belly," and with Hawaiian surfers in Waikiki calling them pae po`o boards. It does not appear in any Hawaiian dictionaries, Hawaiian language newspapers, or writings of the prominent Hawaiian scholars of the 1800s, such as `I`i, Kamakau, Kepelino, and Malo, who described traditional Hawaiian surf sports.
The Men sometimes 20 or 30 go without the Swell of the Surf, & lay themselves flat upon an oval piece of plank about their size and breadth, they keep their legs close on top of it, & their arms are us'd to guide the plank, they wait the time for the greatest Swell that sets on Shore, & altogether push forward with their Arms to keep on its top, it sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity, & the great art is to guide the plank so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, & as it alters its direction.
If the Swell drives him close to the rocks before he is overtaken by its break, he is much praised."Source: Lt.
[Source: From Polynesia, With Love -- The History of Surfing From Captain Cook to the Present, By Ben Marcus] While paipo boarding continued its evolution in Hawaii it is not the only place where the paipo was ridden in ancient times.
Research suggests that paipo boards of one form or another were used by people in New Zealand (Maori), Peru and Africa.
Certainly, Oceania, if not Polynesia, was the center of wave riding since ancient times and into the present.