This is a continuation of the story of my family history related trip to Hawaii. On this day, Hubby woke up extra early to swim at Waikiki Beach whilst I slept late. I missed another opportunity to swim in the Pacific Ocean. Then we drove east past Diamond Head, the Halona Blow Hole, the Makapu’u Lighthouse and Hanamuma Bay. This side of the island was dry and rocky, and the mountains look decidedly more volcanic and bare. It became greener and lush as we drove into the windward side of Oahu, towards the Polynesian Cultural Center.
We arrived at the PCC around 1 PM, in time to meet our guide for the day, a Philippine student named Ira. The Polynesian Cultural Center is run by the Hawaiian campus of Brigham Young University, and it offers jobs to students (scholarships) from all over the Pacific. Many of the students would not be able to attend university without the jobs provided by the PCC as tour guides, dancers, interpreters, and craftspeople. The rest of the jobs are filled in by local people from the town of Laie. About 1,300 employees represent the nations of Hawaii, Samoa, Maori Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, Tonga, Easter Island, Tahiti and the Marquesas.
We were lucky enough to have Super Ambassador Tickets, which meant that our guide stayed with us all day, making sure we didn’t miss a show or demonstration, and she also reserved the choicest seats at all the shows for us. We had priority seating at the dinner luau, and at the final show at the end of the day we had front row seats! Since I have limited mobility, this helped insure that I didn’t have to stand in line, wander the large campus searching for the next attraction, or get lost! I would highly recommend upgrading to an Ambassador Ticket if you ever get to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Another bonus was that our tickets would be good for the next three days, so we could return again. Unfortunately we had a full slate of appointments for the next two days, or we would have taken advantage of these tickets.
Disclaimer: We bought our own tickets. The Polynesian Cultural Center did not give or offer us any free or discounted services during our visit.
We were also very impressed with the talented, polite, and enthusiastic students and other staff members. They answered all our questions, shared stories of their home islands and were curious about New Hampshire, too! Friends and family at home had recommended the PCC to us, and we would also recommend it to anyone else visiting Oahu. It was a long day, though. The final dinner show let out at about 10 PM and we had a long drive home to our hotel in Honolulu.
No family history research was completed today, but we gained a greater understanding of the wide range of Polynesian cultures. Considering how many American missionaries, sea captains, traders, bankers, government officials, and other settlers * have lived in places such as Hawaii, Samoa, the Philippines, the Marshall Islands and other American possessions, it was great to know learn more about these far flung islands. The BYU campus nearby has a Polynesian study center, extensive library and family history center. The LDS temple here in the town of Laie was the first temple ever built outside of the continental United States.
*In my own family tree some cousins served in the military in Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa. Capt. John Dominis removed his family to Hawaii. One cousin went to Australia in a Gold Rush, and another went to New Zealand as a missionary. Two brothers of my great grandfather went to New Zealand about 1890 and remained there for the rest of their lives. Many, many ancestors were New England sea captains, sailors and whalers, and they all passed by these islands on their way to search for whales or for the China/Japan trade routes. Even though my family tree is based in New England, Polynesia and the Pacific Rim has touched members of my family for generations.
For more information:
http://www.portaloha.com/SecretsOfHawaii/BlowHole.htm a website describing the Halona Blow hole and other sites on the South Shore of Oahu.
http://www.polynesia.com/ the website for the Polynesian Cultural Center
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo