Guardians of our history


or “Uncle” David as almost everyone for many years called him in the most respectful, loving Polynesian way, had a lifelong passion for collecting memorabilia, a lot of which formed a significant part of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s mountainous archives.

He was one of our first full-time paid employees AND our first unofficial historian. No item was too small or seemingly insignificant enough to escape going into one of the many folders, boxes, or filing cabinets that eventually lined his offices and surrounding areas. He kept his secretaries busy and, in later years, also used several senior service missionaries simultaneously to help compile, maintain, digitize, and preserve the materials he collected.

BACKGROUND: Uncle David was born of mixed Samoan and German heritage in Apia, Samoa, and first came to Hawaii to visit family in the late 1940s. Though he soon moved on to Utah to further his education, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called him to return to Hawaii as a full-time missionary. While here, he learned to speak fluent Hawaiian and spent a good deal of his time serving on Kaua’i and in the Hansen’s Disease facility at Kalaupapa, Moloka’i. 

Returning to the U.S. mainland after his mission, Hannemann settled in Orange County, Los Angeles, where he met the beautiful and talented Carolyn Harline. They married and eventually raised nine boys and two girls. He worked in attractions management and also started a successful family luau business, which undoubtedly led Church officials to select him as one of the first paid employees two months before labor missionaries and other volunteers completed construction of the Center in 1963. 

After helping successfully launch the PCC, he returned to Los Angeles in 1969 to work again in attractions management and rekindle his family business . . . until the PCC asked him to rejoin executive management in 1983 where for the next twenty-plus years he focused on the islands, operations, maintenance, culinary services, and also interacted with external concessions until he retired in 1995.

Church leaders then called him and Carolyn to serve voluntarily for the next three years as president and matron of the Laie Hawaii Temple, where he is believed to have been the first president of Polynesian heritage. 

After completing his term as temple president, Uncle David returned to the PCC, where he recommitted to work tirelessly on his collections” of Polynesian Cultural Center memorabilia.

David Hannemann

For example, in the early 2000s, he worked closely with Elder R. Lanier Britsch, a senior historical missionary and BYU history professor emeritus, to compile a new history of the Polynesian Cultural Center. In 2013 Elder Britsch updated the manuscript he and Uncle David started more than a decade earlier, which has now been published as The Polynesian Cultural Center: Ambassador to the World. Excerpts from their book might eventually be posted on this website.

Tausilinu‘u David Hannemann passed away at home in 2018. (Sister Hannemann, who continued serving part-time as an organist in the Laie Hawaii Temple, passed away in November 2021).

MIKE “MIKAELE” FOLEY (Legacy content editor)

Foley grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, served as a missionary in Samoa from 1965–’67, and first met Uncle David on his way home. Soon after, he moved to Laie and enrolled at Church College of Hawaii (renamed BYU–Hawaii in 1974), where he began polishing his writing skills as part of his TESOL studies (and even taught Samoan).  He also got hired in 1968 as the student stage manager for the night show and, after graduating in 1970, began earning enough money to become seriously involved in photography.

Completing a master’s degree as an East-West Center student at the University of Hawaii/Mānoa and traveling extensively throughout the Pacific islands, he and his wife — a former student dancer at the Center — returned to Hawaii. He soon after sold his first freelance photos to the PCC, and following a short academic career that included teaching at CCH and for a year in Indonesia as a Jr. Fulbright lecturer, he “retooled” with a degree in mass communications from BYU in Provo, returned to Hawaii, and has worked in communications, journalism, PR, photography, advertising, marketing, digital video and publishing websites ever since. Much of his work has focused on the Cultural Center, BYU–Hawaii, Hawaii Reserves, Inc., and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Laie and the surrounding communities. He has also been a Hawaii correspondent for The Church News since 1976.

After Uncle David passed away, the Cultural Center accepted Foley’s “pitch” to take the lead in compiling content for Of course, many others over the years have also contributed their respective input, such as…