We hope that you enjoy this overview of the historic 60th Anniversary of our beloved Polynesian Cultural Center. Please note that we have included links throughout this article to any recorded ‘livefeed’ event or for extra information on various speakers and subjects consisting of blogs, websites, and articles contained in our online blog, and/or the Legacy website for your further enjoyment. 


Local performers from Halau Hula O Kekela dance a lovely hula during the Moanikeala Festival


Day 1: The 32nd Annual Moanikeala Festival   


We started our events with the Moanikeala Festival, held in our Hawaiian Village. This festival is held in honor of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s first hula master (kumu hula), Aunty Sally Moanikeala Wood Naluai. On Saturday, October 7, 2023, we were honored to hold the 32nd annual Moanikeala Hula Festival.   

The purpose of this event is to seek “to preserve, perpetuate, and celebrate all forms of Hula, while sharing the traditional storytelling and culture with both the people of Hawaiʻi, and our visitors from across the globe”. And that is exactly what we accomplished once again.  

“This year’s event was one of the biggest that we’ve had in a long while. That combined with many alumni coming in early for the anniversary, it was great to see the number of people and familiar faces who came, some who joined in and danced.”  

Terry Naauao Panee, Manager/Chief, Hawaiʻi Village, Polynesian Cultural Center  

A Virtual Alumni Choir presented a stirring rendition of “A Voyage of Faith” composed by Adele Wi Repa and conducted and produced by Milton Kaka during Sunday’s devotional


Day 2: We celebrate our 60th Anniversary Celebration with prayer and thanksgiving  


On Sunday, October 8, 2023, we began our 60th anniversary events with a devotional in the Canon Activities Center on the campus of Brigham Young University – Hawaii. Bishop L. Todd Budge, 2nd Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presided over the event.  

It is difficult to completely capture the special spirit experienced in this meeting, so we will share a few of the amazing gems that were shared by our speakers:  

Speaker at a pulpit

Fraser Bullock, Board Chairman of the Polynesian Cultural Center, presents his testimony
Pictured: Back row, l to r – Fane Koi , Alan Walker, Bobby Akoi, Regina Pasi, Lili Filipo-Fuimaono; Front row, l to r – Sister Lori Capener Budge, Bishop L. Todd Budge, Steve Laulu, President P. Alfred Grace, Val Enos Grace, President Finau Hafoka and Sis Lucy Hafoka


“We know that our mission has always been to share the culture, diversity and spirit of Polynesia with all who visit the Polynesian Cultural Center in a unique, uplifting and inspirational way. By doing so, we are able to provide personal opportunities for all of us, especially the students here at BYU-Hawaii. But in addition to that, we realize that we have an opportunity to spread aloha around the globe. People come and they are touched by our performers, and our guides, and our island workers, and they go away thinking “maybe you can be kind, maybe you can be genuine, maybe you can be respectful to others.”   

P Alfred Grace, President and CEO, Polynesian Cultural Center


“You have an impact that has touched the lives of tens of millions of people.”   

  Fraser Bullock, Board Chairman, Polynesian Cultural Center 


“My father said “Fifita, your passport out of this kind of life is to get an education. So in the 70s, I came to BYU – Hawaii.”    

Fifita Unga – Retired Vice-President, Food & Beverage, Polynesian Cultural Center   


“I am passionate about two things. I’m passionate about my country and I’m passionate about the Gospel.”   

Fane Koi, BYU-H student and Demo Guide in the Fiji Village 


“I didn’t know much about my culture until I came here. But isn’t that true for all of us?”   

Bobby Akoi, former Director of Protocol of the Polynesian Cultural Center 


“We are reflectors of His light. ………in 1985, while a student at BYU-Hawaii, I felt prompted to apply for a position to be a canoe guide at the Polynesian Cultural Center. …. I loved to be at the PCC. I loved it so much that I would come in on my day off without punching in and take those canoe tours! I didn’t fully understand what it was I was feeling, but I felt it at the PCC.”  

Alan Walker, Director of Research & Development  


“20 years ago, on the 40th anniversary of the Polynesian Cultural Center, President Hinckley said “This place is unique in all the world. We don’t have anything else quite like what we have in Lāʻie. I repeat, it is unique in all the world.” I agree. You are unique. But you are unique in ways that really matter to the world today.”    

                                                                                   Bishop L. Todd Budge, 2nd Counselor, Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints                                                                                                                                                         

Please enjoy this recording of the entire devotional. 


The student employees of the Polynesian Cultural Center open their festivities by honoring the flags of their various countries and current residence.


Day 3: Memories, sports and culture  


On Monday, we held our first lecture series in the Hawaiian Journey Theater.   

In his opening address to this event, John Muaina, former Vice President – Human Resources, explained at the beginning of the presentation that with this event he “finally got to meet those that dug the wells and those who made the fires for the Polynesian Cultural Center.”  


The opening scene to “Legacy & Faith”


He then introduced a short film titled Legacy & Faith: Beloved Labor Missionaries by Isaiah Blasabas and Christian Salenga, which presented intimate interviews with many of the labor missionaries who left their homes and came to Lāʻie to build and support the Polynesian Cultural Center through hard work and talent.  


Group of Service Missionaries on stage.

The panelists included Gloria Bird Te’o, Matte Te’o, Ron Swickard, Merilee Swickard, Percy TeHira, Kalolaine Mataele Soukop, Lokelani Lindsey, Sister Helen Haiola, Charles Haiola, Mahana Pulota, and Tuione Pulotu.


Following this presentation, a Q&A session was held. Former labor missionaries and their spouses were asked various questions, including “what were your living conditions when you were serving as missionaries,” “What is it like to fall in love with a labor missionary,” and “how did the Lord help you to build the university as well as the PCC?”  

The answers were sincere, inspiring and filled with humor and humility.   

President Grace expressed his deep gratitude to the panelists. “I hope that as you think about your service, that you recognize that you have blessed literally millions of lives. Yes, we recognize that millions upon millions of guests have come here and have been touched. Your legacy continues to bless us all today.”  

Please enjoy this recording of the presentation. 


Welcoming our attendees in the Tahiti Village


At 10:30 am the Villages of the Polynesian Cultural Center held a special Cultural Welcome followed by a flag raising ceremony, and an invitation for our guests to visit the six island villages.   


Men playing pickleball

Kingsley Ah You and President Aley K. Auna, along with other teams, battle it out on the many pickleball courts.


The sport for the day was Pickleball. First place went to b: Harlen and Ricky Langi. Second place went to b: Allen Akoi and Jared Nikora.  

That evening, a special “Evening in Polynesia” was held throughout the villages. A variety of entertainment, endless food, photo opportunities and even a special marketplace were provided for our registrants.  


More than 20 years later, still the most enjoyable job I’ve had.

                                                                        Carl Dempsey


The #60 was displayed in celebration throughout the Center


Day 4: Serving it up, service to others, and honoring our history  


Tuesday, October 10th became the busiest day yet! It began with a rousing Volleyball Tournament on the BYU-Hawaii campus.  


The tops finishers of the Volleyball Competition: Team Water Gurlz, Team 685 Samoa, and Team Culinary Servers


First place went to Team Water Gurlz: Jurell Kai, Quayd Ah You, Nui Ah You, Micah Maiava, Ala Tito, Hanalei Alapa’i, Carey Williams, Phoebe Grace   


Second Place was awarded to Team 685 Samoa: Ferila Mata’u, Lesi Time, Sala Taituuga, Mel Falanai, Junior Segi, Sonny Kaio, Sofe Talamaivao, Fetu Tuaina   


Third Place was Team Culinary Servers: Kahili Soon, Lenny Apo, Mena Pula, Abraham Apelu, Apelu Apelu, Tyler Tuala, Lina Rupp, Phak Phakdeerat  

Lono Logan discusses the sacredness of kalo


Next, kalo and Hawaiian cultural expert, Lono Logan conducted a Kalo Workshop in the Hawaiʻi Village.  


For two hours, participants were invited to attend a lecture series in the Hawaiian Journey Theater. Subjects included “The BYUH-PCC Student Aids (iWork) by Isi Kongaika, Canoe Boys and Beyond by Aaron Shumway, Release of the new PCC History Book by Laney Britcsh, The Polynesian Cultural Center: Ambassador to the World.  

Please enjoy this recording the day one lecture series. 

Isi Kongaika presents at Tuesday’s lecture series


“The students who have come to this institution of learning and returned to their places… how many people are they influencing? Millions of people!   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Isi Kongaika  


Aaron Shumway speaking at a pulpit

Aaron Shumway discusses his experience as a Canoe Boy


“The Canoe Boys embody the spirit of Polynesia.”  

                                           Aaron Shumway, Director for Religious Education, BYU-Hawaii  


Lanny Britsch standing at pulpit

Lanny Britsch makes an important point during his presentation


“We decided our purpose was to write a book that would reflect the beautiful miracle of the Polynesian Cultural Center in both human and physical terms. This place is wonderful! In your dreams, could there be a better answer for the BYU-Hawaii student employment needs than the PCC?”    

Lanier Britsch, Co-Author, “The Polynesian Cultural Center: Ambassador to the World”


A special Devotional open to the community and students of BYU-Hawaii was held at 11:00 am. We were pleased to hear once again from Bishop L. Todd Budge, 2nd Counselor, Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

Other activities included a Departmental Open House, another “Day in the Islands”, a BYU-Hawaii Campus Tour and the final Alumni Show Rehearsals. 


Thank you, Polynesian Cultural Center, for taking care of me during my college years and especially for the memories. Happy 60th Anniversary and cheers to more years of providing for future students and also sharing the Polynesian cultures with the world.  

Blanche Tuileala Bioa 


The final activity was held in the Hawaiian Journey Theater, where attendees were able watch a preview to a new documentary focusing on the Polynesian Cultural Center and 3 past movies, along with the following PCC specific movies: “Isles of Paradise” (1964), The Aloha Experiment (1970) and the 50th Anniversary Gold Alumni Show (2013). 

Day 5: More memories, sports, a delicious dinner and a big brass band   


Wednesday focused on preparation for the big Alumni Show with rehearsals throughout the day.   

Another series of lectures continued, with an overview of PCC Marketing through the years by Mike Foley and Seth Casey, and a heartfelt presentation by Sunday Mariteragi – “A Journey: I will always remember and never forget. 


Mike Foley shares his experiences working in the Center’s Marketing Department


All of those years ago I was led here by the spirit, by direct revelation in a number of cases. It’s been a wonderful, marvelous experience for me. I’ve lost track of how many millions of words, thousands of thousands of pictures, hundreds and hundreds of interviews I’ve done in all that time – and it’s been a huge, great blessing to me. Thank you for all of your aloha, and for making me a part of sharing that aloha for all of these years.  

Mike “Mikaele” Foley, Writer, Photographer and PCC Historian


Seth Casey reviewed the focus of the Marketing Department during the last decade, including the events surrounding the COVID closure.


“We were one of the first attractions to close during COVID, and we were one of the first to reopen, as well”.  

Seth Casey, Director of Marketing  


Sunday Mariteragi speaks from her heart


“The journey all began when Aunty Sally held my hand and walked with me to PCC, knowing that someday I would understand. She knew PCC was the place for me. I will always remember, and never forget.”  

Sunday Mariteragi  

Please enjoy this recording of Wednesday’s lecture series.  


What could be better than a friendly game of rugby on a fine Wednesday morning?


At the last minute the scheduled Rugby Tournament did not happen. It turned out that the multiple rehearsals created very tired alumni. This meant that there were not enough team members for the teams scheduled. Not to worry! 15 players showed up, so the event became ‘free play”. In the spirit of brotherhood, this was a wonderful solution.  


The gathering crowd greatly appreciated the energetic fun reminiscent of past bands at the Center


A tour of the BYU-Hawaii campus was provided, and a rousing Brass Band Concert was held at the Gateway Plaza, bringing back memories of the Center’s beloved Brass Band of old. 


“The PCC does a wonderful job of supporting the BYU-H mission and vision. First, they supply employment opportunities and help support BYU-H students from the target area. This provides significant financial support for the BYU-Hawaii model, allowing hundreds of students to get a debt-free education that they would not be able to afford any other way.”

John “Keone” Kauwe III, President – BYU-Hawaii 


Chef Felix Tai and Sous Chef Landon Hullinger greets the Alumni


Executive Chef Felix Tai and his team pulled out all of the stops to present an incredible Alumni Reunion Dinner. This was an opportunity to meet up with old friends and colleagues to enjoy those Polynesian favorites.   

“What a meaningful experience to be able to greet and pay tribute to those whose legacy has made such an internal impact at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s a humbling experience to connect to the past and to carry on values, traditions and memories to the next generation by breaking bread together.  

Executive Chef Felix Tai, Polynesian Cultural Center


Polynesian dancers on a stage

The opening number brought out dancers from each of the island cultures


Day 5 continues: The Alumni Show – the big event! 


Wednesday night was the long-anticipated Alumni Show held in the Pacific Theater.   

Performing in a Polynesian Cultural Center night show is one of the best memories many of our alumni have. The thoughts of working with cast members and instructors, the enthusiasm of sharing the PCC’s culminating experience with the guests, and the aloha we shared just won’t go away . . . even as the years pass. It’s no wonder that alumni from near and far — many who haven’t been on stage since the good old days in Lāʻie — have made special efforts over the years to come back to Lāʻie and put on unforgettable, sold-out alumni evening shows:  


On Wednesday, October 11, 2023 we celebrated the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 60th anniversary with another great presentation by past performers.   

Telesia Tonga (l) and Delsa Moe (r) shined as our co-presenters for this amazing event


The schedule said that the program would last from 6:30pm – 8pm. We blew right past that deadline and partied on until almost 10. Each Island culture in turn presented the majesty of their culture. It was such fun to see the performers literally having the times of their lives. They left nothing inside. They shared their deep love for their culture freely with their audience.  

Dancers on stage for a hawaiian finale dance

Our beloved Kūpuna were well represented during the beautiful Hawaiian section of the program


Following a stirring introduction by our own Sia Tonga, and a beautiful presentation of the theme song to “This is Polynesia”, the program began as we always begin, with our host nation – Hawaiʻi! We cried to see such beloved members, from as far back as 1963, lovingly escorted onto the stage. Each hula was presented with honor and joy. Their energy was electric and brought us to our feet immediately.  


I was at a loss for words, and that’s rare for me. I have been literally brought to tears, just humbled to know that those who helped open these doors, so that we can live a blessed life, are here to help celebrate with us.  

Telesia Tonga, Senior Cultural Ambassador and the evening’s Co-Mistress of Ceremonies

Dancers on a stage

Amazing skills were displayed by Tongan women jugglers, including Sisi Putatau, who never once dropped a ball!


Tonga gave a rousing display of skill with their Sōkē  stick dance and Hiko, which is the art of juggling by females.      


The Māori women looked like they greatly enjoyed the “Poi Waka”, or “Canoe Poi”


Aotearoa interchanged the distinctive thumps of the twirling poi balls, the power of the haka, and the melodic harmonies of memorable songs from past night shows with the joy of connection.   


Fijian men performing

The Fijian men, including our “Chief”, Jack Damuni was impressive!


Fiji’s mighty power was in honoring the past, acknowledging the present and preparing for the future. Each generation was represented, and family and community leaders honored, and their section ended with a rousing version of “Bula Lāʻie!”  


Tom Mariteragi (l) and Regina Pasi (r)


Our Tahiti section celebrated their culture with a traditional greeting by their Ra’atira (Chief), Tom Mariteragi. They performed many dance styles, including the world famous fa’arapu’, accompanied by specially composed songs by Regina Pasi.   

Our Taupous – HĀ – Breath of Life: Michellae Timata Tahiata (current employee); Horizons – Where the Sea Meets the Sky: Terina Oto Parker; Mana – The Spirit of our People: Maliana Galeai Ava; A Night Through Polynesia: Vatauomalotetele (Vatau) Galeai Neria; This is Polynesia: Nuualofa Fuaalii; Invitation to Paradise: Tuala Ella Manumaleuga (current employee)


Last, but definitely not least, Samoa’s presentation began with a traditional greeting by the Talking Chief, a parade of taupous representing each of our past night shows and ended with FIRE! 

Did you know that the firewalk was actually created here at PCC at the very beginning show? It was an idea by Pulefano Galeai. So, a tribute to the PCC firewalkers!  

 Tagaloataoa Delsa Moe, VP – Cultural Presentations and the evening’s Co-Mistress of Ceremonies


Men firedancing


Speaking of fire, the finale was all that and more! Starting with the deft movements of Chief Faamoe Soo Tufaga, and displays of skill by Ed Pula, Joseph Ahuna and 3 generations of his family, Viceson, David and Quest Galeai, Tuione Tovo, Isaako Milford, Temaioha Makekau, Dallin Kingi Muti, and Kap Teo-Tafiti and his nephews Julius and Achilles, along with alumni knife dancers of HĀ: Breath of Life, the alumni were treated to an amazing display of heart and heat through the beauty of the fireknife dance. 


The grand finale of the alumni show was filled with living legends beloved to us all!


Soon the entire stage filled with all the performers. MORE than when the show started. To say this was a celebration for the ages would be an understatement. Along with the many tears shed for those missing, the joy of those gracing us with their presence and the mana of the Polynesian people, you could hear gales of laughter, gasps of wonderment, and even the Red Raider chant. RR4L!!!!   


Regardless of their current titles, all of our alumni performing tonight have checked those titles backstage, and they’re just thrilled to be here once again as performers….all having fun just for the sheer enjoyment of performing for you.”   

Tagaloataoa Delsa Moe, VP-Cultural Presentations and the evening’s Co-Mistress of Ceremonies  


Tongan Ohana Dancing

Kalolaine Mataele Soukop is joined by ohana during her amazing presentation


Throughout the night, as one group would come near to the end of their presentation, family members would rush onstage to give them a kiss, join them in the dance, or throw money with a masterful sweep of their hand. It was very touching and oh so Polynesian!  


Even with this detailed overview, it would be impossible to list out the many highlights. But luckily, you can experience (or re-experience it) yourself! Please enjoy this recording of the Alumni performance. 


What an amazing, heartwarming celebration! I couldn’t imagine it going any better! To see generation upon generation representing all 60 years and sharing their spirit of aloha through song and dance was literally a once in a lifetime experience! Mahalo nui loa to all of those who made the entire day amazing!

Alfred Grace, President and CEO, Polynesian Cultural Center


Honoring our beloved Tongan women during the Memory Walk


Day 6: Time to wrap it up our 60th Anniversary Celebration!  

After the festivities of Wednesday, Thursday was no less exciting. We began with a Legacy Walk through the beautiful island villages of Polynesia. Remembrances were posted to honor the amazing people that helped the Center become what it is today.  


John Muaina shares the amazing story of how the Center became friends with the people of China


Our lecture series ended with a presentation on the inspiring miracle of how the Polynesian Cultural Center connected with the country of China as experienced by John Muaina. We were then honored with the lovely Kalolaine (Kalo) Mataele-Soukop, who shared her feelings regarding how she came to Lāʻie under the direction of Queen Salote of Tonga to serve here at the Polynesian Cultural Center and eventually served many years on the PCC Board of Directors.  

The opening number brought out dancers from each of the island cultures


Former BYU-Hawaii President and former Acting President of the Polynesian Cultural Center Eric Shumway gave the final presentation entitled “Reviving and sharing stories of the Center and the University. President’s opening statement was given in the beautiful Hawaiian language, where he said:  


“Greetings to all of you, my beloved friends, kūpuna and families of Laʻie. The lush cliffs of the Koʻolau stand proudly. Leaders and employees of the Polynesian Cultural Center, let the light of knowledge shine forth as a standard for the nations. To you is my expression of warmest affection!”  


He followed in English to explain:  


“This is my humble way of paying tribute and acknowledging, and even bearing witness to the power and influence of our Hawaiian heritage, not only upon this occasion, but also upon the whole church, and those who have lived and served in these beautiful islands.”  


Next President Shumway reverently acknowledged the burden of leadership with a fakatapu, and hufanga, the central requirement in Tongan oratory. Following these sacred formalities, he went on to describe the miracles surrounding Laʻie as the “host to the world, which he felt honored to be a part of.   


Please enjoy this recording of Thursday’s lecture series.


Tuione Pulotu expresses his humble gratitude for the Polynesian Cultural Center


The next event was an open mic for attendees. Those who took part stood to answer the question “How PCC Has Blessed Me”. This event lasted 2 ½ hours and was filled with such love, respect and faith.  


Please enjoy this recording of the Open Mic session.  


This place was built on love and on sacrifice and I’m so grateful to them. My Dad said “no matter where you are, when the PCC needs your help, be there!  And so, we’re here. When the 75th anniversary comes and I am in my wheelchair and they need help, I’m going to be here, because the Polynesian Cultural Center has blessed my family, my life, and our prosperity. We watched young and old come together last night to enjoy one another, and just spreading love and aloha.  

Bale Damuni Tuisavura  


Eric Workman introduces the movie “Tala” by Milton Kaka


Other activities during the day included another “Day in the Islands” pass for all registered alumni and the Lāʻie/BYU-Hawaii Campus Tour.  


On Thursday evening, we were honored with the preview of a new movie called “Tala”, an award-winning short film by Milton Kaka, one of our talented musicians from : Breath of Life. He lovingly captured this story of his wife’s family whose faith was tested with the ultimate loss. The entire theater was touched and grateful for this moving experience.  

Beautifully prepared cupcakes were distributed to our guests following Thursday night’s HĀ: Breath of Life 7:30 pm performance


The regularly scheduled : Breath of Life program included a heartfelt “Happy Birthday” song to the Center and the distribution of cupcakes at the end of the presentation.   


Following this, an exclusive presentation of was provided specifically for our Alumni. Group participation was encouraged, and the performers and production crew were lifted up by the enthusiasm and love of this special audience.   

Alumni and Nightshow performers honor each other with a haka


“(The) cast remained onstage to sing the farewell songs from each of the islands, finishing with Aloha Oeʻ. Then alumni broke out to the front of the stage to express their gratitude to the cast with a haka. Almost immediately, 8-10 other alumni from the audience ran down to participate on stage as the current cast joined them too. So much power.”   

Sister Maralee Kmak, Senior Missionary  


“This is what we do every day to represent you! We hope we make you proud!”  

Telesia Tonga, Senior Cultural Ambassador and the evening’s Co-Mistress of Ceremonies  


Thank you for this opportunity to share some of the magic of this very special event. We, the Polynesian Cultural Center, its leadership, employees, and volunteers, love our many, many alumni. You inspire us. You lift us up. You humble us. We bid you our fondest Aloha Oeʻ and mahalo nui loa…until we meet again. Our hearts are bound by aloha, now and forever.  



Want to see more? Learn more? Share more? Go to our LEGACY page and share the aloha!  



Ambassador to the World Book


Available at the Hawaii Store, Deseret Books, and the BYU-Hawaii Bookstore!  


Bio of Nina S. Jones, Blogger for the Polynesian Culture Center 

blogger for the Polynesian Cultural CenterThis is the final blog lovingly prepared by Nina S Jones, who has served in the Marketing Department for 9 beautiful years. It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the magic of Polynesia. She will carry aloha in her heart forever.