Our legacy website project

The need to preserve the PCC’s historical records and materials:

In the years following the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 50th anniversary in 2013, more people became concerned with preserving the continually growing amount of historical materials and files. 

Boxes of historical PCC materials and numerous images had been turned over to the BYU–Hawaii Archives for safekeeping. “Uncle” David Hannemann had also filled his “museum”-like office (then in the PCC/BYU–Hawaii Snow Administration Building) plus surrounding filing cabinets) bottom-to-top with more boxes and files. Several senior sister missionaries were assigned over the years to help organize, digitize, and catalog these.  

Less familiar were the boxes of old files that had previously been stored in the Pacific Theater’s “volcano” backdrop. Unfortunately, some of these were partially destroyed when rainwater and leaking water from the “volcano” effects’ plumbing seeped on them — a lot. 

Fortunately, quite a few records had already been digitized by that point, but many people do not realize data recorded on digital storage media (such as video and DAT tape, CD’s, and DVD’s), can degrade over time or with too-frequent playing. Such media can also get scratched and/or inadvertently mishandled. Others were rightfully concerned Hawaii’s humid climate and the PCC’s lack of appropriate storage conditions endangered the Center’s extensive collection of old films, videotapes (both in various formats), transparencies (i.e., slides), hard-copy prints, and film negatives. 

For example, mildew easily grows on film and videotape bases, and can eventually destroy the underlying data. Film and tapes can also become brittle and/or disintegrate when replayed years later — assuming appropriate-format playback devices are still available. Unfortunately, PCC also moved its stored visual media around over the years, not consistently keeping them under cool, dark, dehumidified conditions. 

Former PCC Director of Marketing Keali’i Haverly (who is the PCC Director of Facilities and Maintenance) recalled senior service missionary Sisters Janice Boice and Sue Ann Long were specifically called about this time to help with the PCC archives project’s digital media. (Sister Boice had previously worked with video, and Sister Long had worked at the Church History Library helping catalog digital media.) 

Additional help sought:

Haverly also began collaborative discussions with both the BYU–Hawaii Archives and the Church History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, to help conserve, digitize and house the Center’s historical files and materials. The PCC hoped these records would eventually be listed in the respective online catalogs of these two institutions and made more widely available to interested people around the world. 

Center management also hoped a system could be set up, especially with the Church History Library, to gain ongoing access to the files for creative and other reasons (possibly through an array of special hard drives, or limited-access databases). 

When the project fell under Chief Marketing Officer Eric Workman’s purview, the PCC also requested and assigned more senior service missionaries to work on the archival materials with “Uncle” David Hannemann, who passed away in 2018. 

By then, several small pallet-loads of archival material had already been submitted to the Church History Library; but questions arose about what might happen to them in the long run. 

Launching the Legacy website:

In December 2019, Workman contracted with Mike Foley to begin organizing and compiling a selection of the PCC archival materials into a new historical website. Foley, who had a long-term commitment to chronicling historical events in Laie extending back to the late 1960s, had previously worked full-time for the Center, BYU–Hawaii, and Hawaii Reserves, Inc., in marketing communications, had edited a community newspaper for over 20 years, and worked on various Church-related historical projects. He encouraged both Haverly and Workman to take advantage of his institutional memories and files on the Center to put together a new archival website.

In the earliest months of the PCC archives project, Foley proposed using some of the best materials to create a new PCC website like the one he helped maintain for the 50th-anniversary celebration in 2013. For example, he recommended promotionally “hooking” the launch of the new website with the Center’s upcoming 60th anniversary in 2023; and he asked to include Elder Britsch’s and David Hannemann’s historical manuscript from the early 2000s as an important component. 

Dr. Britsch agreed, with the understanding he could first update the manuscript to 2023. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting Hawaii heavily in 2020, PCC’s history projects were among the first things “furloughed.” 

Work resumed on the history project in August 2021, and Professor Britsch began “freshening” the existing manuscript. He also spent several weeks revisiting the Center in June 2022 as part of adding “new years” since his history mission ended. With the manuscript completed, Workman decided to print a limited number of the Hannemann/Britsch books for promotional purposes; AND the Center did a “soft-launch” of legacy.polynesia.com during the 60th anniversary celebration. Current plans call for adding future updates, and also provide for interactive participation with alumni and friends who might have photos, videos, and other historical information and/or corrections they might wish to share.