Guardian of our history

“Uncle David” (1926–2018), as almost everyone for many years called him in the most respectful, loving Polynesian way, had a lifelong passion for collecting memorabilia, a lot of which formed a significant part of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s mountainous archives.

He was one of our first paid employees, AND our first unofficial historian. No item was too small or seemingly insignificant enough to escape going into one of the many folders, boxes, or filing cabinets that eventually lined his offices and surrounding areas. He kept his secretaries busy, and in later years, also used several senior service missionaries simultaneously to help compile, maintain, digitize and preserve the materials he collected.

Background: Uncle David was born of mixed Samoan and German heritage in Apia, Samoa, and first came to Hawaii to visit family in the late 1940s. Though he soon moved on to Utah to further his education, the Church called him to return to Hawaii as a full-time missionary. While here, he learned to speak fluent Hawaiian and spent a good deal of his time serving on Kaua’i and in the Hansen’s Disease facility at Kalaupapa, Moloka’i. 

Returning to the U.S. mainland after his mission, Hannemann settled in Orange County, Los Angeles, where he met the beautiful and talented Carolyn Harline. They married and eventually raised nine boys and two girls. He worked in attractions management and also started a successful family luau business which, undoubtedly, led Church officials to select him as one of the first paid employees two months before labor missionaries and other volunteers completed construction of the Center in 1963. 

After helping successfully launch the PCC, he returned to Los Angeles in 1969 to work again in attractions management and rekindle his family business . . . until the PCC asked him to rejoin executive management in 1983 where for the next twenty-plus years he focused on the islands, operations, maintenance, culinary services, and also interacted with external concessions until he retired in 1995.

Church leaders called him and Carolyn to serve voluntarily for the next three years as president and matron of the Laie Hawaii Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is believed to be the first Polynesian president in the Laie Hawaii Temple. 

After completing his service as temple president, Uncle David returned to the PCC, recommitted to work tirelessly on his collections” of Polynesian Cultural Center memorabilia.

David Hannemann

For example, in the early 2000s he worked closely with Elder R. Lanier Britsch, a senior historical missionary, to compile a new history of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Elder Britsch updated the  manuscript, which has been published as part of this website in time the Center’s 60th anniversary. Click here to read “Polynesian Cultural Center : Ambassador to the World”

Tausilinu‘u David Hannemann passed away at home in 2018. (Sister Hannemann, who continued serving part-time as an organist in the Laie Hawaii Temple, passed away in November 2021).