Laie, HI – June 11, 2016 – Following a 16-month restoration, the new Tonga Village at the Polynesian Cultural Center opened today in a ceremony steeped in culture and celebration, highlighted by the presence of the Royal Family of Tonga.
His Majesty King Tupou VI, joined by his wife, Her Majesty Queen Nanasipauu, made a special trip to participate in the blessing ceremony as a tribute to the people of Tonga and the spirit of the Tongan culture being perpetuated at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
King Tupou VI addressed the audience, praising the Polynesian Cultural Center for its dedication to showcase culture. “The Polynesian Cultural Center is a window the world can look through to understand lesser-known islands and their people,” said King Tupou VI. “The Tonga Village fosters pride in the cultural identity of our people and allows them to preserve and pass on that love to our younger generations.”
Alfred Grace, president of the Polynesian Cultural Center, told the gathering, “We are grateful to have His Majesty King Tupou VI and Her Majesty Queen Nanasipauu join us to celebrate this beautiful village and the proud and noble people it represents. Here in the Tonga village, we encapsulate all that is significant, worthy and meaningful to the Polynesian Cultural Center. It is a showplace for a magnificent culture.”
It was the first appearance at the Polynesian Cultural Center by the Royal Family of Tonga since 1993 and the first for King Tupou VI since assuming the throne. Known as the “Friendly Islands,” Tonga is the last remaining monarchy in Polynesia ruled by a king.
The ceremony’s festivities were focused on welcoming King Tupou VI to the new Tonga Village. The Royal Family arrived by canoe and was greeted with a song by the Kahuku Tongan Choir. Following the address by King Tupou VI, the Royal Family was honored with gifts and cultural performances from performers representing the Polynesian Cultural Center’s six island villages, Hawaii, Tahiti, Aotearoa, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
Tonga, the host village for today’s celebration, concluded the ceremony with more than 100 people of Tongan ancestry performing traditional cultural songs and dances.
Originally built in 1963 when the Polynesian Cultural Center opened, the Tonga Village was completely restored over the past 16 months, a process that was undertaken to present a more complete and authentic showcase of the Tongan culture. All of the structures have been built using traditional Tongan materials and lashes.
Highlights of the new Tonga Village include:
- New, large town hall for cultural presentations.
- Restored family house and queen’s summer house.
- New kitchen and underground oven to display Tongan cooking methods, supported by a garden growing taro, papaya, tapioca, pineapple, sweet potato and banana.
- New women’s workshop for weaving and cultural activities.
- Restored drum presentation stage for cultural performances.
- Renovated the central lawn area to make it ideal for cultural demonstrations, ceremonies and presentations.
President Grace added, “The Polynesian Cultural Center takes great pride in sharing the culture, activities and traditions of Tonga with guests from around the world. The Tonga Village is always a favorite experience for our guests, leaving them with fond memories, knowledge and a greater appreciation for the friendly people and fascinating culture of Tonga.”
Located on Oahu’s beautiful North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center is the only cultural tourist attraction of its kind in the world and a favorite of all visitors to Hawaii. An engaging, interactive celebration showcasing the people, culture, arts and crafts of Polynesia, the Polynesian Cultural Center has entertained millions of visitors from around the world since opening in 1963. A nonprofit organization, 100% of the revenue goes to daily operations and to support the education of its student-employees from neighboring Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
For more information about the Polynesian Cultural Center, visit www.polynesia.com or call (800) 367-7060.