Meet Steve Morgan, Molokai’s Master Shaper
You may see him every now and then at a town meeting but chances are you won’t catch surfboard shaper Steve Morgan at your favorite Molokai surf break. “I’m kind of a loner when it comes to surfing,” says Morgan who prefers to surf solo at the less-ridden breaks along Molokai south-west shoreline near La`au Point. Though he’s not from Molokai, living on the west end for 22 years has given him enough time to get to know the area.
Morgan started shaping surfboards before he could legally drive a car. Just four years later he opened his own surf shop in California at the age of 18. After some years went by he left the shop to work with famed surfboard shaper Dick Brewer. The partnership lasted eight years during which time Morgan made his way to live in Kapa`i Kaui.
After witnessing Kauai go through the growing pains of commercial land development, Morgan quickly made up his mind to call Molokai home. During his time on Molokai, Morgan had tried to shape boards from home but found economically unfeasible. “No bank ever thanks a surfboard shaper for his deposits,” jokes Morgan.
While sharing Oahu shaping facilities at Hawaiian Island Creations (HIC), a chain of surf shops around Hawaii, Morgan struck up a working relationship with the companies other shapers. Now Morgan is officially HIC’s third shaper, working alongside Kerry Takoro and Erric Arakawa who are legends in the world of surfboards.
“I do work marathons,” says Morgan about splitting his time between Oahu and Molokai. “When I’m here on Molokai I don’t about surfboards. When I’m there, that’s all I think about.”
What Morgan does think about when he’s on-island is the environment. He is currently experimenting with rain catchment systems. Despite the west side’s arid reputation, he says he’ll soon have a system down that will allow him to rely completely on a catchment system for all of his farming and living needs.
Morgan’s attempt to stay away from the water main represents a larger picture. As a member of Hui Ho`opakele `Aina, a local environmental group with activist tendencies, Morgan is a staunch believer that the proposed development of La`au is spelling trouble for the island’s water resources and he’s doing what he can to bring awareness into the community.
“If you know something and you know people are being victimized, you can’t just sit around and let it happen – no matter who you are.”
Morgan says he’s been sensitive to development the day he arrived on Molokai and believes that the problems Molokai faces can be solved through the strengths of Hawaiian culture. “It’s like shaping surf boards in a way. The essence and the origin is Hawaiian. There are no surfboards or surfing without Hawaiians.”