Engineering key Maori, Samoan structures

Traditional Samoan houses in 1962.
Church engineer George Aposhian Jr. took this picture of traditional Samoan fale in Pavai’ai’i, American Samoa, in 1962 to prepare for building similar structures at the “Polynesian Village” site in Laie. (The name “Polynesian Cultural Center” had not been adopted yet.)

Introduction: A written response (and photos) to a 2013 article about the PCC’s 50th anniversary in Church News from George Z. Aposhian Jr., then a semi-retired structural engineer who lived in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sent to New Zealand and Samoa: In March 1962, while employed by the Church as a structural engineer, I was sent to New Zealand to visit several Maori carved buildings, and to become familiar with this unique type of native structure …for the purpose of reproducing this style in the PCC.

I also watched Church Building Missionaries at Temple View as they prepared the carvings to be

placed on and inside the Maori buildings to be built as part of the Center.

When I returned to Salt Lake City, I prepared the drawings necessary for the Maori buildings that were built at the center.

I also went to Samoa for the same purpose. The [original] Samoan chief’s house at the PCC is larger than any that I saw in Samoa.

remember that in order for the Samoan building to satisfy building codes in Hawaii, we had to install a sprinkling system to

protect the thatched roof in case of fire, and that we had to use concrete, made to look like wood, for the large interior columns that held up the roof.

[Likewise, the measurements and

Former New Zealand labor missionaries Dean Matenga (left) and John Elkington assisted Aposhian with his engineering survey in 1962.

photos he took at Nuhaka in 1962 were used to draw the plans for the Maori meeting house in Laie.

Brother Aposhian visited the Cultural Center in 1972, where he again met Elkington, while on his way to serve as president of the Australia Melbourne Mission. He also stopped at the Center on his way home in July 1975.]