Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / General Tiki

Rell Sunn - surfer tiki collector on PBS

Pages: 1 8 replies

We just watched an amazing hour of television. An emotional hour at that.

Here's the details:
Independent Lens - on PBS
Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai
60 min.
“Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai” profiles Rell Sunn (1950-98), a pioneer in women's surfing who lived for 14 years with breast cancer. It didn't stop her from surfing, or doing the many other good things she did (organizing children's surfing competitions and serving as a breast-cancer advocate are two) in Makana, the rundown Oahu beach town she loved with a passion. The hour includes several interviews with Sunn (one taped just months before she died), as well as with friends and her daughter, Jan-Sunn Carreira, who says: “It's so graceful seeing mom on a wave. That's what it is, it's grace.” (VCR Plus+ 7148)

She shows off her tiki collection at the beginning and the entire hour sits by her incredible tiki lamp as they speak to her about her amazing life. Swanky and I were touched.

Yeah, I was told of the upcoming program, and am interested in seeing this.

For those interested:
You can read about the film in detail here.

You can actually purchase the home video by ordering here.

It's being shown on PBS/KCET here locally in the LA & Orange County, California areas:

  1. Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai - May 9, 10:00PM
  2. Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai - May 11, 5:00PM

Unfortunately, that's when we'll be in Palm Springs, which, by the way, won't be showing this film during our stay in Palm Springs. If possible, I wonder if it does end up being shown on local Palm Springs airwaves, if we can put it up on the big 'ol bedsheet in the pool area.

For those in the Los Angeles area that want to attend a private screening at KCET/pbs Studios, and would like to meet the producer, you can attend tomorrow, May 7th, at 7 p.m., by calling and checking the info here.


Thanks for the tip! Looking forward to the show.

Go to http://www.pbs.org and you can search for when your local PBS station is showing it. Here in Tampa Bay, FL, the next broadcast is Tuesday, May 11th at 11:30pm.


Talk about coincidence,

Madam Bong purchased some carved nara wood purfume bottle holders from this gal on ebay. The gal said she had to go to Fountain Valley to pick up some bookkeeping work she does and she can stop by our house in nearby Huntington Beach to drop off my wife's purchases.

When she arrives at our house, she introduces herself as Jan, a striking Hawaiian women that must stand 6' tall. We all make small talk, then Jan tells Debbie (Madam Bong) that she has a beautiful carved nara wood dining table that seats 8. We decide to purchase it the following weekend.

So last Sunday we drive to this 'Jan's' house in Mission Viejo. Upon entering their house, (after removing thongs) we notice it's decked with beautiful hawaiiana of all sorts.

In particular, their is a nook in the entryway with a etched glass sort of bowl, surrounded by some koa carvings. My wife notices that it says something to the effect of 'In loving Memory - Rell Sunn'.

Come to find out, Jan is Rell Sunn's daughter and only child. Jan lives with her husband Tony and there gorgeous little daughter whose Hawaiian name escapes me now.

Jan and Tony are 2 of the most cool, laid back folks we've met in a long time. Jan has a side business importing and selling real nice carved nara wood and rattan furniture.

If anyone wants any information regarding their business, let me know and I'll contact her and get the OK to pass on the information.

[ Edited by: Tiki_Bong on 2003-05-07 09:24 ]

Lucky me! My band performed on our public TV station last night, and the show about "Auntie Rell" came right after - very cool pairing! And that really WAS an impressive collection of tikis: 300! I was looking for a Gecko!

Rell had cheered on a group of fellow lake Michigan surfers during her treatment in Chicago... an article in Surfer had mentioned it and one of the surfers told his story of that day on our surfing forum...

steve carrigan
posted Wednesday, 07 May 2003  07:37
I've got a Rell Sunn story,think I've told it before but I'll tell it again.It was a rainy stormy day late in the year at the camp(logans).The waves were pretty good head high but not a good day for beach goers in general.Usual crowd out having fun in weather that would have made a duck take cover.When toward the end of my session a lady ( a term that would fit that women perfectly)and a tallish blonde haired man walked up over the break wall and sat down to watch,the women was havin trouble moving and by the scarf wraped around her head you could tell that she was a patient at the Cancer Treatment Centers off America. Many times the patients come to the beach to contemplate there situation and I'm sure like us it gives them peace off mind.As each surfer took off on a wave and kicked out or wiped out in my case the couple would stand and cheer.after a few more rides it was time for me to go and as i was getting out I went over to the couple who was near my stuff on the beach.They asked the usual ? we lake surfers field to beach goers that dont know, Do you surf all the time? How often are there waves? And the statement that I didn't understand the importance off until later " I wish I was surfing". Anyways I answered as best I could wished them luck and left. After a few months while sitting on the pulpit reading my surfer I read the story of Rell and how she was being treated there and of her death, I couldn't believe it, I had met the queen of surfing, the model for everyone's stoke and did'nt know it. The thing i noticed most was how stoked she was even while being faced with life's ultimate challenge, death! I'll always remember that day and it still inspires me to enjoy our sport, hobby, lifestyle, for what it is.


Very nice story LakeSurfer,

You're right, it's hard for surfers to quite explain the whole vibe to those that are unfamiliar with the lifestyle (and not the lifestyle 'Pottery Barn' portrays).

I'm not trying to say it's the coolest thing going (I don't have too!), but surfers make an instant connection with each other no matter how far apart their 'local break' is.

I plan do live like this until I die (which may be this weekend at Tiki Oasis!).

Bong, Wow! That a trip that Tiki_Kiliki's post popped up right after your encounter with Jan. Adds a little mana to your story story eh!. Lake your story was very cool too. I have not had a chance to see Heart of the sea so thanks to everyone for posting info about this being on PBS.
Rell Sunn is an inspiring spirit and took the sport of surfin' back to the roots;
Havin' fun with family and friends, respecting the ocean, buildin' your character and waterskills whilst chillin' with nature. All the very best of stuff.
It's funny cause as I grow older I can see how surfing, or my concept of it, has grown and changed as I have. I no longer look at surfin' as the cool thing to do or with a Pottery barn mentality. It is now the thing I have to do to keep my beans from spillin' A connection gets made at one point and the sport and the lifestyle become a part of you and whole vibe takes a deeper twist. Surfers are brothers and sisters and we all share a common unexplainable warm fuzzy that we get from gliding down a liquid face created by the forces of nature when she opens the throttle. We may not all get along with each other all the time but we still are connected. Bong you said it all quite well so I wont go on, also I don't want Lucky to call me a Hippy.
Glassy tube and endless barrels.

An interesting side note is that Jan, Rell's daughter, seemed not to be sad or depressed about her mother's passing. When the topic briefly came up, she spoke of her mother not being there as though she was just away.

This to me spoke volumes about how her mother lived life to its fullest, and that she must have been at peace with the inevitable.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! I told Jan and Tony about Tiki Central, to which they seemed very interested. Tony wrote down TC address. I told him about Tiki Oasis III this weekend - maybe they'll be there?

[ Edited by: Tiki_Bong on 2003-05-08 10:50 ]

Pages: 1 8 replies