I got it, but it is a clunky solution. I took the advice of scottf in (http://tecplottalk.com/bb/viewtopic.php ... db665345a4
). Because I have a blade O mesh it was relatively straightforward. I created a subzone with the first two I planes of the blade O mesh (the blade surface and the first plane above it) and one with just the blade surface and exported as ASCII. I went into the ASCII file, added the auxdata and parentzone header to the just blade surface zone and then re-imported the zones in tecplot. I could then create surface streamlines on the imported blade surface zone as it had the volume subzone containing the first two I planes of the blade O mesh as a parent zone.
That being said, this is a really annoying way of having to do what I would have thought was a common thing. It first of all takes up hard disk space (granted my mesh isn't that big so the exported ASCII files are about 15 MB or so and I only exported the variables Tecplot needs to define the wall shear stress, but for finer meshes that could get bigger) but worse it is impossible to automate as it requires editing of the ASCII files. I suppose one could write some kind of bash script or python script or something to perform some regex on the exported ASCII, but still.
Tecplot, this seems like it should be a pretty easy thing to fix. Can you not create a way to assign parent zones from within the GUI/scripting language?