One of the most successful cultural attractions in the world

The remarkable journey of the Polynesian Cultural Center

A bold statement, we know. But our story, which is filled with sacrifice, faith, hard-work, and awe-inspiring miracles, confirms that the Polynesian Cultural Center is a place like no other.  

Indeed, our mission statement focuses on the unique Focus and vision that has not only touched millions of guests, but changed the lives of our hardworking staff, generous volunteers and cherished student employees: 

The Polynesian Cultural Center is a Unique treasure created to support education by sharing with the world the cultures, diversity and spirit of the nations of Polynesia. In accomplishing this we will: 

  • Preserve and portray the cultures, arts and crafts of Polynesia. 
  • Contribute to the educational development and growth of all people at Brigham Young University-Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center. 
  • Demonstrate and radiate a spirit of love and service which will contribute to the betterment, uplifting and blessing of all who visit this special place. 

 

The history of Polynesia is an inspiring tale of determination, innovation and exploration that has spanned thousands of years. From small islands scattered across the Pacific rose great nations bound together by a common lineage. Our people conquered the seas through an intricate study of the heavens, ocean currents and innovative construction and here in the little community of Lāʻie, we have joined together to honor that heritage.  

Sharing the majesty of our Polynesian Cultures with the world

It is our honor to share the culture, arts and crafts of our people with the world. By doing so, we acknowledge our ancestors, practice our traditions, and preserve our language. Our children are raised to sing the songs, tell the stories, and celebrate the heritage that is Polynesia.  

Our reverence and dedication in preserving and presenting the cultures of Polynesia has resulted in receiving official visits from the King and Queen of Tonga, the Premiere of Japan, and numerous heads of states across Polynesia and beyond.  

Disney Corporation sent a team to learn from our success as they planned and built Disney World. 

In 2020, the Governor of Hawaiʻi stated that the Polynesian Cultural Center exemplified Responsible Tourism in how we addressed public and staff safety in preparation for our reopening. 

Educate and support our student workers

One of our greatest achievements is the opportunity to work with, support and build deep bonds with our thousands of student employees throughout the years. In fact, by the end of 2023, we will have enabled close to 40,000 BYU–Hawaiʻi students to gain work experience, earn a living wage and successfully graduate from Brigham Young University – Hawaii (formerly known as the Church College of Hawaii). 

“Our students are our biggest success. They are given the opportunity to learn more about their culture, obtain a higher education and achieve gainful employment.”

– President P. Alfred Grace

We are humbled because this outreach has provided tens of thousands of young adults from across the Pacific Rim with the opportunity to expand their horizons by contributing to their college education. We accomplish this through work study programs, scholarships and employment opportunities throughout the Center. Approximately 80% of our working staff are students from underserved populations who grew up dreaming of a better life. Through our partnership with Brigham Young University – Hawaii, they are able to gain a recognized college education and to gain valuable work experience.  

Throughout the Center, student employees are learning skills in marketing, finances, tourism, administration and business management, arts and culture. Our graduates are then able to return to their homes with marketable skills and invaluable experience which not only improves their lives, but those of their families. We have many instances where former workers have moved on to manage major projects inside their work organization, have become leaders within their government structure or have established support programs to share within their communities. It is truly an honor to be a part of this extensive outreach. 

The strength, endurance, and dedication of our workers

Through good times and bad, our employees have stood by us. They have come to work in rain or shine, celebrated our milestones and supported each other in times of sadness. We have employees who were raised in our community and who began their employment performing, cleaning, or greeting guests. Many turned into ‘lifers’. Some have worked here their entire lives. Others have returned here after successful careers. Others may have used their time here to springboard into the job of their dreams. 

“The Center offers so much more than a bland museum-like approach to conveying cultural practices. It is a living, breathing continuation of the cultures it promotes. It is not a collection of antiques and actors who portray history; it is a vibrant cultural sanctuary where the demands of modern living have not robbed us of rich and beautiful culture. When you eat at the  Luau, you are not eating a historian’s best guess at what Hawaiians may have enjoyed eating. It is not a simulation; it is not a fabrication. You are experiencing an authentic meal prepared for you in Hawai`i by Hawaiians. When you watch members of the Aotearoa (New Zealand) village perform the Haka, those men are not performers acting for a paycheck. They are members of a proud culture honoring the generations of warriors who came before them – ask any one of them and they will speak of their opportunity to perform for you as a near spiritual experience that they take very seriously. ”

– Connor Hansen, Preserving Polynesian Cultures

We send our sincerest Mahalo to all of you who graced us with your time and efforts. With your help, we have succeeded beyond expectations.  

The generosity of our volunteers (service missionaries)

Since the ground was first broken to build the Polynesian Cultural Center in Lāʻie, service and full-time missionary volunteers have dedicated thousands of man hours planning, building, organizing, and supporting our efforts.  

Some came to build. Others came to teach. The kupuna, the dancers and the singers that together held and preserved the precious oral histories of their people came to pass those legacies on to the students who would be the performers, Others made costumes: feathered capes, hibiscus and tea leaf skirts, headdresses and other traditional ceremonial accoutrements. Yards of bark cloth were pounded to make other kinds of clothing, blankets and wall decorations. Mounds of coconut and pandanas leaves were woven to make mats for floors and walls. We recognize the untold hours of service, the faith in our vision and the generous spirit of aloha they have offered throughout the years. 

To date, we estimate that we have welcomed over 800 volunteers. Today, we are averaging  60 full-time volunteers serving between 12 – 23 months at a time, plus 5 part-time community volunteers. 

“Serving at the Polynesian Cultural Center has truly been the highlight of our lives. We came to enrich others but found that we were the ones who grew. We love the Polynesian people. We love the other volunteers we work and serve with. This truly is a magical place filled with such love, caring, and nobility. This is what aloha looks like, and it is absolutely beautiful.”   

– Nina S. Jones

To say that we are grateful for these generous individuals willing to dedicate their time and efforts to serve with open hearts and aloha would be an understatementThe miracles we have received from our volunteers are too numerous to count, but they will never be forgotten. 

The enthusiasm and support of our guests

From humble beginnings entertaining passing travelers to its’ rise as the #1 paid tourist attraction on the islands, the Polynesian Cultural Center is blessed and honored that people around the world have chosen to walk through our gates. We have been visited by distinguished dignitaries and world-famous celebrities. Most noteworthy are the Heads of State from countries throughout Polynesia and beyond. We’ve shaken hands with the Prime Minister of Japan. We’ve welcomed delegates from Mainland China. Numerous Prime Ministers from the various Polynesian Islands have visited on many occasions. Leaders of religious organizations, heads of industry, movie and television stars. 

“Our focus is on the millions of everyday people who have come, many for multiple visits. We recognize that with all of the many sites to see on the islands, the fact that they have come here is one of our greatest compliments.” 

Jimmy Mapu, Manager – Guest Services/Cultural Presentations Admin

Guests experience the hospitality and warmth extended to them by everyone in the Center, that wonderful spirit of Aloha that flows so freely and abundantly from the hearts of the Polynesian peoples. This is what makes the Center special and keeps guests returning.