Polynesian Football Hall of Fame opens at PCC 


Dedication of the new Polynesian Football Hall of Fame

Class of 2015 Polynesian Football Hall of Fame inductees, family representatives, current Heisman Trophy winner and 2015 Polynesian College Player of the Year Marcus Mariota, and hundreds of fans attended the grand opening of the organization’s permanent exhibit gallery — followed by a special luncheon and enshrinement ceremony — at the Polynesian Cultural Center on January 24. 

Opening Ceremonies in the Hawaiian Journey Theater

Opening Ceremonies in the Hawaiian Journey Theater

Four of the 2015 inductees attended: Luther EllisJesse SapoluRay Schoenke and Russ Francis; while family members represented the deceased inductees: Mosi Tatupu and Mark Tuinei.

Other special guests included Jack Thompson, Class of 2014 inductee and NFL player Manti Te’o of Laie.

Board member and former NFL player Vai Sikahema, who has family ties to Laie and the PCC, emceed the opening and the enshrinement ceremony.

Before the traditional untying of a maile lei signifying the opening of the exhibit, PFHOF board member and co-founder Ma’a Tanuvasa presented an autographed football to Norm Harris, the Tongan architect who designed the gallery.


Vai Sikahema, Marcus Mariota and Keala Sikahema (Vai's wife and local girl) at the opening ceremonies.

Vai Sikahema, Marcus Mariota and Keala Sikahema (Vai’s wife and local girl) at the opening ceremonies.

Harris explained that he incorporated lava stones, tropical plants, natural woods, lauhala mat accents, and other island textures and fabrics into the exhibit’s design.

PFHOF co-founder and Class of 2015 inductee Jesse Sapolu described the event as “a family gathering.”

“We are truly honored to be dedicating our new home at the Polynesian Cultural Center,” he added on behalf of the PFHOF board. “This is a historic moment for all of Polynesia. Our new home will allow us to share with future generations the incredible journey and impact of Polynesian football players.”

During the enshrinement ceremony in the Hawaiian Journey Theater, each of the 2015 inductees were spotlighted in a bio-video presentation, which have become part of the exhibit.


All of the inductees or their family representatives expressed gratitude for their careers, coaches and heritage. For example, part-Samoan Luther Ellis, who grew up as a cowboy in Colorado, said his first real experience with Polynesians came when he met several of his University of Utah teammates from the islands. “From that moment on, I understood what it meant to be Polynesian.” Ellis also encouraged the young people in the audience to “dream, set some goals, and go for it.”

“The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame has done a tremendous job of shining a spotlight on the outstanding accomplishments of these football players who have been an inspiration to Polynesian athletes,” said Eric Workman, PCC’s Executive Vice President. “We’re very proud about the unveiling of this new Hall of Fame exhibit and having people come from around the world to see and learn about the feats of these football players from Polynesia.”

The new exhibit is located in the PCC’s former main entrance building, which with the completion of the Hukilau Marketplace, has become the Center’s new guest orientation center. Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public.

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.