Polynesian Cultural Center: Huki

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! 

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The Polynesian Cultural Center is a theme park preserving the cultures of  Polynesia on Oahu, with six villages representing different nations in Polynesia surrounding a central lagoon. In the early afternoon, we gathered in the seating around the lagoon to watch the parade of canoes.

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Performers entered the lagoon on double hulled canoes, telling the story of the earth mother giving birth to the islands of Polynesia through the dances from Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji and Hawaii. We sat in the Fijian section and were told to cheer on the performers by yelling ‘Bula!’

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The title of the show is ‘Huki’ which means to pull, a reference to the god Maui pulling the islands up from the sea with his fish hook. At one point, my daughter asked me if they borrowed the story from Moana and I had to explain that Disney based Moana on ancient Polynesian mythology.

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The pageant also explained the origins of the Polynesian Cultural Center. In the 1950s, Hawaiian members of the Mormon church began the tradition of the Hukilau…they would attract tourist to a performance of native dance on the beach and serve fish pulled fresh from the sea in an effort to raise money to rebuild their church, which had burned down.

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This evolved into the luau and the theme park and a mission to preserve Polynesian culture.

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Location: 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762

Designation: Cultural Theme Park

Date established/designated: 10/12/1963

Date of my visit: April 12, 2019

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