By Rodney S. Yap
Clothing company Maui Thing and NFL linebacker Kaluka Maiava have partnered on an exclusive “Native Nation” t-shirt that go on sale today, Sept. 23, at the Wailuku town store or online.
The local clothing company created the “Native Nation” t-shirt for the Oakland Raider, meeting over over the summer to discuss the authentic design aimed at representing Maiava, who was born and raised in Wailuku and played at Baldwin High School before attending USC.
Ironically, Maiava, who wears jersey No. 50 and is in his fifth season as an NFL pro, is at Denver for the Monday Night Football game between the Broncos and the Raiders. According to Raiders’ beat writer Jerry MacDonald of the Bay Area News Group, Maiava is prepared to start at strong side linebacker tonight if teammate Sio Moore can not play. Moore is listed as questionable after suffering a recent concussion.
Maui Thing is especially proud of the collaboration because Maiava chose Punana Leo o Maui, the local non-profit Hawaiian language immersion preschool in Wailuku, to benefit from sales of the t-shirt. Punana Leo o Maui’s mission is to perpetuate the Hawaiian language and culture on Maui through education.
Maiava chose the school because he believes in the organization and what it stands for.
“I want to see our Hawaiian language restored to what it once was, and not a foreign language within our own islands,” he said. “Without language there is no culture.”
The “Native Nation” design is a play off the “Raider Nation” following. The warrior helmet with eye patch is similar to the Raiders’ logo. Maiava himself has “Wailuku” in block-lettering tattooed down his spine. Pride Ink, who did Maiava’s tattoo, also participated in the design with “Maiava” down the back of the t-shirt.
This is Maui Thing’s second t-shirt project involving a professional athlete from Maui. The store also designed a t-shirt for Oakland A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki last year with proceeds benefiting the Kurt Suzuki Foundation.
The “Native Nation” t-shirts are $22. Maui Thing is located at 7 N. Market St. T-shirts can also be purchased online at www.mauithing.com.