the legacy website project

The need to preserve the PCC’s historical records and materials:

About 2015 more people became concerned with preserving Polynesian Cultural Center historical materials and files. 

Over the years boxes of historical PCC materials and numerous images had been turned over to the BYU–Hawaii Archives for safe-keeping. “Uncle” David Hannemann had also filled his “museum”-like office (then in the PCC/BYU–Hawaii Snow Administration Building) plus surrounding filing cabinets) bottom-to-top with more boxes and files. Several senior sister missionaries were assigned over the years to help organize, digitize, and catalog these.  

Less familiar were the boxes of old files that had previously been stored in the Pacific Theater’s “volcano backdrop.” Unfortunately, some of these were partially destroyed when rainwater and leaking water from the “volcano” effects plumbing seeped on them — a lot. 

Yes, quite a few records had already been digitized, but many people do not realize data recorded on digital storage media such as video and DAT tape, CD’s, and DVD’s, can degrade over time and with too-frequent playing. Some of these can also get scratched and/or inadvertently mishandled. Others were rightfully concerned Hawaii’s humid climate and the PCC’s lack of appropriate storage conditions endangered the Center’s extensive collection of old films videotapes (both in various formats), transparencies (i.e., slides), and film negatives. 

For example, mildew easily grows on film and videotape bases, and can eventually destroy the underlying data. Film and tapes can also get brittle and/or disintegrate when replayed years later — assuming appropriate-format playback devices are still available. Unfortunately, PCC also moved its stored visual media around over the years, inconsistently keeping them under cool, dark, dehumidified conditions. 

Former PCC Director of Marketing Keali’i Haverly (who is the PCC Director of Facilities and Maintenance a the time of this writing) recalled senior service missionary Sisters Janice Boice and Sue Ann Long were specifically called about this time to help with the PCC archives project’s digital media. (Sister Boice had previously worked with video, and Sister Long had worked at the Church History Library helping catalog digital media.) 

Additional outside help sought:

Haverly also began collaborative discussions with both the BYU–Hawaii Archives and the Church History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, to help conserve, digitize and house the Center’s historical files and materials. The PCC hoped these records would eventually be listed in the respective online catalogs of these two institutions and made more widely available to interested people around the world. 

Center management also hoped a system could be set up, especially with the Church History Library, to gain ongoing access to the files for creative and other reasons (possibly through an array of special hard drives, or limited-access databases). 

When the project fell under Chief Marketing Officer Eric Workman’s purview, the PCC also requested and assigned more senior service missionaries to work on the archives project with “Uncle” David Hannemann, who passed away in 2018. 

By then, several small pallet-loads of archival material had already been submitted to the Church History Library; but questions still arise about what might happen to them in the long run. 

the legacy website:

In December 2019, Workman contracted with Mike Foley to begin organizing and compiling a selection of the PCC archival materials into a new historical website. (Foley, who previously worked fulltime in marketing communications and had also intermittently freelanced content for PCC’s marketing communications needs since the late 1960s, encouraged both Haverly and Workman to take advantage of his institutional memories and files on the Center to put together a new archival website.

Foley, who served as a young missionary in Samoa (1965–’67), moved to Laie a few months after. While finishing his undergraduate studies at Church College of Hawaii (renamed BYU–Hawaii in 1974), he worked as a student employee at the Center. 

After graduating from CCH and the University of Hawaii/Mānoa (as an American East-West Center “grantee,” he taught at Church College of Hawaii, three universities as a U.S. Fulbright lecturer in Bandung, Indonesia, and briefly at UH/M before he refocused his career on mass communications and marketing.  

After deciding to switch careers from academics, he “retooled” at BYU in Provo, he returned to Honolulu to work as a journalist and editor for several large tourism industry organizations. The Polynesian Cultural Center hired him fulltime in the early 1980s where he spent more than 20 years working fulltime in marketing communications management. He also began overlapping work for more than 20 years in community affairs, including public relations management for Hawaii Reserves, Inc., and serving as the editor of the community newspaper. 

He started focusing on internet content in the late 1990s, semi-retired to a home-based office in 2002 to work as a freelance writer, photographer, and digital media specialist. During this period, he chronicled various BYU–Hawaii, Polynesian Cultural Center, historical, and Church-related events in Laie. 

In the earliest months of the PCC archives project, Foley proposed using some of the best materials to create a new PCC website like the one he helped maintain for the 50th anniversary celebration in 2013. For example, he recommended promotionally “hooking” the launch of the new website with the Center’s upcoming 60th anniversary in 2023; and he asked to include Elder Britsch’s and David Hannemann’s historical manuscript as an important component. 

Dr. Britsch agreed, with the understanding he would first update the book to 2023. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic began impacting Hawaii heavily in 2020, PCC’s history projects were among the first things “furloughed.” 

When work resumed on the project in August 2021, Dr. Britsch began “freshening” the existing manuscript. He also spent several weeks revisiting the Center in June 2022 as part of adding “new years” since his history mission ended. Workman also recently decided to print a limited number of Britsch’s books for promotional purposes.