A Cultural Renewal
Roger Brown | University Relations | 27 August 2012
The Hawaiian Village at the Polynesian Cultural Center has been a favorite attraction for guests ever since it was constructed in 1976, in its current location. However, the buildings were beginning to show their age and it was time for a change. “We saw it as a great opportunity to make better use of our space,” said Raymond Mokiao, manager of the Hawaiian Village. “The changes allow us to be more authentic, and at the same time more sustainable.”
Two years ago a plan was proposed to switch the locations of the Hawaiian and Samoan villages at the PCC, putting Hawaii nearer to the entrance because they are the host culture of the center. As a result, needed repairs to the Hawaiian village were postponed. When the change did not happen, it became apparent that the buildings were in need of more than just repair. To better use the funds allotted for renovations and complete the renovations in a timelier manner, the village was to be rebuilt in the same location.
New additions to the village allow the portrayal of what life was like in ancient Hawaii. One of the more prominent features of the new village is a waterfall leading into a stream which will feed the various lo‘i or patches of crops growing as the water travels to the lagoon. In addition to Kalo, or Taro, other crops will be grown and used in the demonstrations. As the water moves through the lo‘i it collects nutrients and deposits them in a Loko I‘a, or fish pond at the edge of the community, thus attracting and feeding fish. The fish will stay and provide food for the inhabitants, creating a sustainable system for the people living there. “Our ancestors knew how to recycle and maximize resources, we want to show how they did it to motivate others to do the same,” said Mokiao.
A new building called the Hale Hana will portray natural plant and land resources, and include various specimens and charts that tell of the medicinal and therapeutic use of native Hawaiian plants. The Hale Ali‘i or chiefs house will remain in its current location, along with the Hula Halau or instruction house, and the Halau Wa‘a or canoe house where the Iosepa is housed. “By combining traditional techniques with modern technology the village will be stronger, last longer, and keep its authenticity,” said Mokiao.
The new layout will allow more room for demonstrations, and allow greater flexibility for the use of space in the village. “Guests will feel more engaged and involved, it will help give a personal touch to our activities,” said Mokiao. “We hope to engage in more hands-on activities to help portray what life would have been like in a real village.”
In addition to guests, the village looks to serve the broader community. Plans have been made to more fully integrate the Hawaiian studies programs at BYU–Hawaii, to offer cultural experiences to local youth groups, schools, and special interest groups.