PCC celebrates 27th annual Moanikeala Hula Festival

Hula dancers from Japan

The Kamaluwehiokapalai halau hula from Japan

Story and photos by Mike Foley
[First published in the Polynesian Cultural Center blog, February 2017]

As it has for the past several years, the Polynesian Cultural Center hosted its annual Moanikeala Hula Festival on February 4, 2017, in a perfect setting — under the monkeypod tree in the Hawaiian Village. [Read more…]

Polynesian caviar, anyone?

paloloWe don’t get it naturally here in Hawaii, as far as I know, but I recently saw a post on one of the popular social media websites reminding me that for some of our South Pacific island cousins, this is the season of “Polynesian caviar” — palolo.

[Read more…]

Kahuku High: 2010 Fijian video most popular

Many of you know I’ve been a serious still photographer for many years, but about 15 years ago I started doing web-videos . . . and you can see the most popular one I’ve done, so far, below: A 6:12-minute Fijian segment from Kahuku High‘s 2010 “May Night” program at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii:

— VINAKA! Video by Mike Foley
(Originally taped for our online community newspaper)

PCC Hawaiian expert shares culture, hula insights

[Story and photos by Mike Foley: Originally published in the BYU–Hawaii electronic “newsroom” on 27 February 2009]

Cy BridgesCy M. Bridges [pictured at right], Theater Director for the Polynesian Cultural Center and a noted Hawaiian cultural expert, shared his love, passion and expertise on historical and genealogical aspects of modern hula with Brigham Young University Hawaii students during the February 25, 2009, Honors Program colloquium in McKay 101.

“The hula was really our hard drive — our textbook,” said Bridges, who in addition to his work at the PCC is an entertainer, musician, genealogist, kumu hula or master, and periodic judge for the well-known Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo. “Everything was committed to memory, because there was no written language; so we chanted, sang and danced about our lives.”

[Read more…]

Original Maori artisan refreshes PCC carvings

Maori_carvings11-30-13 [Published in the December 2013 issue of IMUA Polenisia
the Polynesian Cultural Center newsletter:
Story and photos by Mike Foley]

Before sunrise on November 30, in accordance with New Zealand Maori custom, carvers, service missionaries, island representatives, other Maori from the community and special guests waited at the Maori Village gate for a special kawanga ceremony to mark the reopening of the PCC’s Maori Village following an extensive renovation and replacing many of the original carvings.

More than 150 people participated in the ceremony that included Seamus Fitzgerald, PCC Director of Cultural Islands and Maori Village manager, and his team inviting the guests onto the marae with chants, followed by the entire group slowly inspecting the newly renovated features and carvings in a procession.

[Read more…]

What a ‘wero’!

Over the past 40-plus years I’ve seen Maori at the Polynesian Cultural Center welcome many visiting groups of their countrymen with traditional greeting ceremonies, but I think the wero or challenge-and-acceptance protocol the PCC and Maori from the surrounding communities put on for Te Panekiretanga O Te Reo Maori on July 27, 2010, was one of the most exciting ever…

…partially because members are carefully accepted into the Napier, New Zealand-based group to study and perfect Maori language and cultural skills: Where in past groups maybe one or two of the manuhiri or visitors would respond to the challenge and karanga chants, nearly all Te Panekiretanga O Te Reo Maori members joined these thrilling moments as they entered the Maori marae at the Polynesian Cultural Center:

[Read more…]

B-52 and other cockroach tales

I first became aware of cockroaches when I was in elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we learned to do the Mexican hat dance to the music of La Cucaracha for a May Day program. Since then,  and even though I now know they are found in many places throughout the world, I don’t remember actually seeing one until I moved to warm, tropical Samoa as a Mormon missionary in 1965.

SIDEBAR: The Samoan word for cockroach is mogamoga, while the word for Mormon is Mamona; and since colloquial Samoan often switches the sounds associated with the letters ‘n’ and ‘g’ — or mona vs. moga can be pronounced the same way – cheeky people would sometimes derisively call us mamoga, implying we were mogamoga.

I saw way too many mogamoga back in the day, but since moving from Samoa to perennially semi-tropical Hawaii, I’ve also spent too much effort trying to keep away from the creepy crawlers. For some enigmatic reason, I thought some of you might be interested in a few of my more insightful cockroach tales, and perhaps even add a few of your own in the comments window below:

[Read more…]

Cultural serendipity

I experienced a brief moment of cultural serendipity when a number of Fijian and Tongan women performed a Fijian coming-of-age ceremony for several young women before they performed in nearby Kahuku High’s “May Night” program. The young women came on stage wrapped in traditional masi or bark cloth, which their older relatives unwrapped, before the girls danced a Fijian meke with their classmates.

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