Polynesian Cultural Center Breaks Ground On Hawaiian Village Expansion Project

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New Facilities and a Home for the Iosepa Voyaging Canoe to be Built

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I think it is appropriate Iosepa will be in the Hawaiian Village at the PCC. We Native Hawaiians see ourselves as kanaka maoli (stewards of the land), and along with this comes a strong sense of cultural responsibility. This hālau will be a great addition to the PCC and to the entire Hawaiian community as well.

The Polynesian Cultural Center broke ground on Nov. 6, 2007, for a new $2.65 million facility in the Hawaiian village that will house the Iosepa, the only all-wood, double-hulled voyaging canoe in Hawaii. The hālau waa, or canoe house, will be built to showcase Iosepa and increase its program offerings at neighboring Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYUH) to further highlight the host culture of Hawaii.

"This ceremony marks an important milestone not only for our Hawaiian village, but also for the overall history and preservation for the Hawaiian traditions of navigation," said Polynesian Cultural Center President Von Orgill. "Iosepa will appeal to visitors and at the same time communicate and share the unique aspects of Hawaiian and Polynesian culture and traditions with the world."

Mark Willes, president of the board of directors for the PCC, offered a blessing for the project, followed by a ceremonial song and prayer with honored guests such as donor Ira Fulton; and the newly installed BYUH President Steven C. Wheelwright presiding with traditional Hawaiian groundbreaking sticks.

Housing the Iosepa in the Hawaiian village was considered "a natural match" according to Orgill. Construction workers began preparing the area a few months ago where it will reside for the creation of a halau (house of learning) that will properly display the 57-foot canoe with its sail up, and has plenty of room for guests to view and appreciate it. Key to the design of the village renovations was enabling the Iosepa to be taken to Hukilau Beach for launching. Construction is expected to continue until June 2008.

"The new display will focus on the remarkable ocean-going nature of the ancient Polynesian people, helping visitors better understand how these long-ago mariners traversed 15 million square miles of ocean on vessels similar in shape and size to the Iosepa," remarked Alfred Grace, senior vice president of marketing and sales for the PCC.

Donors, including the W. Kellogg Foundation, Mark Willes and Ira Fulton, are funding the canoe, Hawaiian Village expansion construction costs and an endowment to ensure both the facility and the voyaging canoe receive proper care and maintenance.

The management of the halau will be a cooperative effort between the PCC and Brigham Young University-Hawaii's Jonathan Napela Center for Hawaiian Language and Cultural Studies, whose director is William K. 'Uncle Bill' Wallace III.

"The Iosepa is in effect a floating classroom for students in this special program," said Orgill.

According to Wallace, "Iosepa's mana (spiritual essence) is 'very powerful'. We will ensure that all the proper protocols are followed during the construction of the hālau, so that it will be culturally acceptable and at the same time, something that will last. It's not only for PCC visitors, but for the Hawaiian students and the community."

Wallace continued, "I think it is appropriate Iosepa will be in the Hawaiian Village at the PCC. We Native Hawaiians see ourselves as kanaka maoli (stewards of the land), and along with this comes a strong sense of cultural responsibility. This hālau will be a great addition to the PCC and to the entire Hawaiian community as well."

Founded in 1963 as a non-profit organization, the PCC has entertained more than 32 million visitors, while preserving and portraying the culture, arts, and crafts of Polynesia to the rest of the world. In addition, the PCC has provided financial assistance to 15,000 young people from over 70 different countries while they attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii. As a non-profit organization, 100 percent of PCC's revenue is used for daily operations and to support education. To learn more, please visit http://www.Polynesia.com .

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