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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 4, 2002

Shark victim back on the beat

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — Hoku Aki was an all-purpose May Day king at Kaua'i High School yesterday.

Kaua'i High School May Day king Hoku Aki adjusts the drum set before playing at the school's May Day Assembly. Aki lost his left leg in a shark attack March 25.

Jan TenBruggencate • The Honolulu Advertiser

In addition to looking regal in a red cape and feather lei alongside queen Kara Chow, he played drums in a rock band, boogied with fellow students and knocked out a Tahitian beat for a men's dance number — all on one leg.

Aki lost his left leg to a shark while bodysurfing March 25 at Brennecke's Beach in Po'ipu.

Six weeks later, the popular 17-year-old senior is back in school, driving, playing music and, in his words, "hanging out."

"Everything's still the same. I just have to use crutches," he said.

In daily physical therapy sessions, Aki started practicing with a prosthetic leg, and he hopes to be using one regularly during the summer after graduation.

"I just started walking on it last week," he said. "It's really different. It's hard, but it feels really good to be able to walk."

Before the start of the May Day assembly, Aki sat behind a drum set and played a couple of rock tunes with a group of fellow students. During the program, he played Tahitian percussion for a dance number. After the dancers were done and Aki walked on crutches back to his seat with the royal court, he paused for a couple of gyrations to the background music.

The crowd whistled and cheered.

And when other students got up to dance, he joined them.

Shark-attack victim Hoku Aki and Kara Chow were named king and queen of Kaua‘i High School’s May Day Assembly.

Jan TenBruggencate • The Honolulu Advertiser

Aki, who turns 18 this month, plans to enter the University of Hawai'i — but perhaps not until next year — where he would like to study video production.

But before that, he hopes to make a solo music CD. Really solo. Aki said he would record songs he has written and sing, as well as play drums, 'ukulele, bass and keyboards.

Entertainer and high school teacher Patrick Cockett said Aki has the talent to succeed in the business.

"He's the real deal," Cockett said.

Yesterday's May Day program was a tune-up for Aki's appearance at tonight's "Star Quest" high school talent contest.

He will perform with a group called Elima Miu.

The contest starts at 6 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.