Tuesday, September 3, 2013 — Similar to the return of the PCC/BYUH Alumni Brass Band, which marched for the first time since 1995 (see below), the Polynesian Cultural Center 50th Anniversary Golden Anniversary celebration also marches on.
One special Golden Anniversary program that only a few hundred people enjoyed was a special tribute to those who have volunteered their time at the PCC.
Monday, September 2, 2013 — The second official day of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 50th Anniversary celebration smiled on the many alumni and friends who could come to Laie with beautiful weather and refreshing trade winds.
PCC President Alfred Grace addresses alumni and special guests during the 50th Anniversary Alumni Reception in the Hawaiian Village
Oh my, we were all excited and expected big things in the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 50th Anniversary musical “fireside” in the BYU–Hawaii Cannon Activities Center — the first official activity scheduled during the September 1-8, 2013, eight-day alumni reunion — but we just didn’t realize at the start of the evening how absolutely spectacular the program would be, and the special spirit it would bring to mark the beginning of the PCC’s Golden Jubilee.
The crowd of community residents and PCC alumni who came from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, the U.S. mainland and probably other distant places, filled every seat in the BYUH CAC that was not already occupied by the hundreds of members who comprised the 11 choirs. It was heart-warming to see the many people who met old friends and co-workers for the first time in many years.
A large Samoan choir drew the honors to sing the prelude song, then in his opening remarks, PCC Chief Operations Officer Leilua Logo Apelu [pictured at upper right] — who is also chairman of the PCC 50th Anniversary committee — welcomed everyone home, and said, “We are all gathered here this week for one reason, to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Lord for the Polynesian Cultural Center and the positive impact and the profound influence it has on each one of us and our families.”
“Wherever we served or worked at PCC, we as alumni have also impacted the lives of more than 37 million guests who have visited the sacred grounds of PCC since its opening in 1963.”
A spirited day of Maori culture and performing arts at the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 13th annual Te Manahua Maori Cultural Arts Festival on August 31, 2013, marked the beginning of a special eight-day celebration for the Center’s 50th anniversary.
Te Awhiorangi, a high school kapa haka group from Taupo, New Zealand, won first place in the PCC’s 13th annual Te Manahua Maori festival.
Groups from across the state and as far as New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Utah captivated the enthusiastic crowd at PCC’s Pacific Theater with traditional Maori kapa haka (performing arts), featuring a large group competition and small group competitions in Haka Hard! and Poi-e.
Maoris from the Polynesian Cultural Center and surrounding community welcomed a special group of visitors with a traditional powhiri welcoming ceremony on August 30, 2013 — just two days before the PCC begins its eight-day 50th Anniversary celebration from September 1-8:
The visitors included several surviving members of Tearohanui Maori Company, the group of approximately 150 New Zealanders who came to the Polynesian Cultural Center to help put finishing touches on the then brand-new visitor attraction, open the PCC’s Maori Village and “star” at the dedication ceremony and activities on October 12, 1963 — 50 years ago.
Tearohanui Maori Company and others wait to be traditionally invited
to enter the Polynesian Cultural Center Maori Village
Before returning to New Zealand, the group performed in California, on the nationally televised Danny Kaye Show, and in Utah.
Other visitors included kapa haka or traditional Maori arts performing groups from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Utah, some of them Polynesian Cultural Center alumni. All of the above plan to participate in the PCC’s Te Manahua Maori kapa haka festival on August 31, which was deliberately planned to begin the day before the Center’s Golden Jubilee alumni reunion so as many of them as possible could attend both events.
[Reprinted from the August 2013 issue of IMUA Polenisia, the Polynesian Cultural Center’s inhouse newsletter: At the time this was written, Sheena Fitzgerald Alaiasa (pictured at right) had been nominated for the national award; but during a special assembly at King Intermediate School in Kaneohe on August 29, 2013, it was announced that she has been named National Middle Level Principal of the Year by MetLife and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Her award includes $5,000 in grants and a return trip to Washington, D.C., for a national learning institute event.]
Some people at PCC only know her as Sheena, a part-time Maori musician, but to 600-plus students as well as the 52 faculty members she oversees every week-day, she’s Mrs. Alaiasa, Principal of King Intermediate School in Kaneohe.
In fact, she’s so good at her full-time position that the Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators recently named her State Middle School Principal of the Year, based on her excellence in professional growth, collaborative leadership, advancements in curriculum, instruction and assessment, and personalization of learning.
The Polynesian Cultural Center will showcase kapa haka — the traditional music and dance of Aotearoa (New Zealand) — with the Te Manahua Maori Cultural Arts Festival on Saturday, Aug. 31. Participants from across the state and as far as New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Utah will participate.
“Te Manahua is a fun and entertaining event for both participants and spectators, especially the Haka Hard! competition,” said Seamus Fitzgerald, Aotearoa village manager. “We’re also excited to be able to live stream this year’s event on our Polynesia.com website to allow fans from around the world to enjoy the performances.”