PCC updates: Hukilau Marketplace opening  


Hukilau Marketplace Grand Opening

Mana'o Company

Mana’o Company

The official opening of our exciting new Hukilau Marketplace on February 20, 2015, was another great Polynesian Cultural Center event.

Hundreds of people from the community got the opportunity to explore this major new addition to the PCC, enjoyed free food, mini-concert music by Vaihi — who are all PCC alumni — and Mana’o Company, and a special “street battle” fireknife event.

But it was the presence of dozens of kūpuna, our Hawaiian elders, and their family members who came to pay tribute to their ancestors who are an important part of the history and legacy of Laie. PCC President & CEO P. Alfred Grace explained that as staff members, designers and consultants began the process of planning the new Hukilau Marketplace several years ago, they began with the vision of bringing something unique, yet familiar to the island. “We decided we needed to tell the story of this very special place. We needed to honor the legacy of our kūpuna or elders and ancestors.”


Kupuna (elders) join Alfred Grace, CEO of the Polynesian Cultural Center

Following appropriate protocol with seashell trumpets, Hawaiian chants and old-style hula, Grace invited several of the kūpuna in assisting him in untying a maile-leaf lei — the symbolic equivalent of cutting a ribbon — to officially open the Marketplace.


Hamana Kalili Statue

Hamana Kalili Statue

The group then moved to a new 7-foot 4-inch bronze statue of Hamana Kalili, a large Hawaiian man who inadvertently created the “shaka” gesture that’s now associated with Hawaii around the world.

Kalili lost most of the three middle fingers on his right hand in an industrial accident, leaving the thumb and little finger to appear extended.

This friendly waive caught on as kids in the community would mimic the gesture. In 1948 Kalili shared his unique wave with the first of many thousands of tourists who attended the old hukilaus that made Laie famous.




Hula at the Grand Opening of the Hukilau Marketplace 

With its ensuing popularity, the Hukilau became a prototype for the PCC . . . and the namesake for the new Hukilau Marketplace. “We honor Hamana Kalili, who many people do not realize came from right here in Laie, as well as Joseph Kekuku, who invented the Hawaiian steel guitar right here, that helped popularize Hawaiian music around the world,” Grace said. “We’ll install the Kekuku statue in a few months, and we also honor all our other kūpuna and their contributions,” he added, noting some of their names have been used, with permission, for other parts of the Marketplace. The unveiling of the statue included more hula and a chant by Kalili’s descendants. They also draped the statue with maile leis.


Descendents of Hamana Kaliki at the Hukilau Marketplace

The PCC’s new Hukilau Marketplace is now open to the public free of charge. Parking and wi-fi are also free. Come try the restaurant or other dining options and shops. We invite you to take a special $10 introductory canoe ride of the Center – and if you decide you want to stay for a more traditional PCC experience, you will receive a $10 credit for a ticket package that includes the entrance to our villages, a meal and the Ha: Breath of Life show ticket.

Story and pictures by Mike Foley


Mike Foley, who has worked off-and-on

at the Polynesian Cultural Center since

1968,  has been a full-time freelance

writer and digital media specialist since

2002, and had a long career in marketing

communications and PR before that. He

learned to speak fluent Samoan as a

Mormon missionary before moving to Laie

in 1967 — still does, and he has traveled

extensively over the years throughout

Polynesia and other Pacific islands. Foley

is mostly retired now, but continues to

contribute to various PCC and other media.