In a Word:

Ohana = Family

Valentines Day is upon us, and here in Hawaii, nothing reflects love more than OHANA

An integral part of Hawaiian culture is the care and nurturing of family, or ohana. From ancient times to the present Hawaiians embrace the opportunity of living in the company of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and yes, even the in-laws. In communities of old, every member of the ohana was expected to contribute to the tasks of daily life.

photo of four keiki boys dancing

Even keiki (children) honed practical working skills through the games they played.

Kupuna (our elderly) were tenderly cared for and highly respected for their great knowledge and experience. They were essential in passing on the traditions and histories of the ohana.

photo of Carl Funoimoana at The Mission Settlement at the Polynesian Cultural Center

And children left without parents were cared for with great love and kindness. Because to Hawai’ians, family is not just blood, its recognizing that we are all related, we are all ohana.

Scene from “Ha: Breath of Life”

The Hawai’ian traditions of family and service still carry on today

Here at The Polynesian Cultural Center we honor this tradition and reflects in every aspect of our day, from the care and nurturing of our village units to the way we welcome and honor the guests who visit us each day.

“Family matters, and family is everything. This place tells it all and I love it,” said Mele Suiava Latu, a tour guide in the Tongan village, one of six Polynesian cultures represented at the PCC. “There is a special spirit about this place. It is such a joy to share our culture and see the difference it can make in somebody’s life. It’s very rewarding.”*

“The park is family oriented. Everything we do in our culture is all about family,” said Tipa Galeai, who works in the Samoan village. “To serve our fellow-man, to serve parents and grandparents, is a highlight of our culture. The young serve the older ones, so someday you get your turn. It’s all about respect and service that we render to our families.”*

If you have the chance to come visit us, make sure and attend our presentation – Ha: Breath of Life and notice how these traditions are beautifully reflected in the Hawaiian section of the program. Ha is a 90-minute production with more than 100 performers (mostly BYU-Hawaii students). Through music, dance and cultural displays, the performance tells the story of one Polynesian’s journey from infancy to getting married and starting his own family. Commitment to family and service are key messages of the award-winning show.*

We are proud to share the heritage and beauty of ohana with the world. Come and share the love, at The Polynesian Cultural Center.

* As quoted in the May 19, 2016 article “‘Family is everything” in the Deseret News, Salt Lake City, UT

Nina S Jones

Nina S Jones

Nina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of 39 years, she volunteers at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling, studying and writing about what she is learning from the various Polynesian cultures. Her blogs focus on their history, beliefs, practices and – as an added bonus – delicious food! To her, Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live and she is very honored to be able to be a part of their amazing world.