At popular surf contest, a memorial to a boy who was killed — and the man who took his life

(image provided by: Katherine Aikau)
(image provided by: Katherine Aikau)

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A controversial memorial is on display at a popular surf contest in Waikiki this weekend.

The annual event gives back to the community and honors those who have passed away. But the mother of one of the victims finds the tribute to her son offensive — because it includes the man who killed the 7-year-old.

A banner and t-shirts for sale at the 33rd annual Longboard Surfing Classic at Kuhio Beach depicts Gerald AIkau hugging his son, Reef.

In June, Aikau fatally stabbed his 7-year-old son before killing himself at the family's compound in Pauoa Valley.

Gerald Aikau was legendary waterman Eddie Aikau's nephew.

Reef Aikau's mother says her husband is a murderer and he should not be honored at the surfing contest.

"If you want to put a picture of Reef …that would be very honorable," said Katherine Aikau. "But to put them together, it's like erasing history and what happened. That Gerald murdered Reef … and to put the murderer with the victim, it's just so heinous and outrageous and disgusting,"

The man behind the surf contest is surf legend China Uemura, who said he makes it a point to honor his loved ones who passed away and he did not mean to disrespect anyone with the tribute.

"Losing my boy Gerald and my boy Reef, it was hard for me … it's more a dedication to them, and everybody at this contest going, 'Beautiful picture, China. Beautiful picture of Reef and Gerald.' I said, 'Yeah that's my boy and I gotta do something for them and I'm gonna miss them for the rest of my life,'" said Uemura.

He added that all the money raised by the contest stays in Hawaii, and his foundation has already donated more than $200,000 to charity.

Uemura said Gerald Aikau was like a son to him. Those close to Aikau say he had been dealing with mental health problems and drug addiction for many years.

But domestic violence victims' advocates say there is nothing that can justify what he did.

"We tend to romanticize things as culture. It's a legendary family. It's a horrible crime. And bringing those two things together I think, sometimes, is challenging," said Domestic Violence Action Center CEO Nanci Kreidman.

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