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Samoan Gardening

      Before Europeans arrived in our islands, Samoans typically subsisted on farming and fishing. Breadfruit, banana, taro, giant taro and, of course, coconuts are the most common food crops, and are still cultivated today.  When trading with other islands became more common, pigs and chickens were added to the diet.   A Samoan chief or Matai attains his status based on food production, preparation and eating within his village. The matai and his council (fono) assign tasks and quotas to villagers, ordering the number of taro plants to be grown, which men are...
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Polynesian Royalty

  We love our Polynesian royalty     Most people in modern Hawaii cherish the many reminders of our aloha state’s royal heritage. For example, we’re the only state graced by a royal palace — Iolani Palace in Honolulu; the Kamehameha Schools are the sole beneficiary of the late Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop’s estate; and there are numerous other places, streets, buildings, institutions and other things in Hawaii that help us recall our historic royalty.   Hundreds of Hawaiians and others recently went to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu to see a new display — the...
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Greetings! Hongi Style!

  I continue to be impressed and have the highest respect for the “hongi”, a traditional Maori greeting in New Zealand. There is something about it that is so different than the formal handshake in modern western culture, or even a traditional kiss on the cheek.   It is done by pressing one’s nose and forehead (at the same time) to another person. It is not meant as a means to ‘smell’ those you greet. There is much more in the exchange of a “hongi”.   Here, former Chief of the Maori Village, George Kaka, exchanges a hongi with the President and...
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Tongan Society

      One of the beautiful aspects of Tongan Society is their emphasis on sharing. Tongans share stories, they share resources and they share their blessings with joy and thanksgiving.   Everyone has a role to play unique to their individual status in Tongan Society. It is based on the concept of sharing the blessings afforded you with those you are responsible for.  This tradition comes from the belief that you don’t grow up by yourself, you don’t successfully accomplish tasks on your own, and you do not find happiness on your own.  A successful Tongan...
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Laughing To the Beat: Tongan Drumming

      Laughing to the beat: Tongan drumming   For many years Polynesian Cultural Center visitors from around the world have been enjoying the humorous attempts by audience “volunteers” to play like islanders do during the Tongan Village’s drumming show: There’s just something about watching the first time they try to mimic the antics of a muscular Tongan that cracks everyone up, every time.   “From the beginning years ago, that’s the response we expected. The show has held up very well,” said Semisi Fakatava, PCC’s Tongan cultural ambassador. He has worked...
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Tongan Lashing Expert Brings Skills to P...

    Tongan Lashing Expert  As contractors near completing the PCC’s newly renovated Tongan Village, a cultural expert in lalava or traditional sennit-cord lashing has been brought in to add some culturally distinctive finishing touches.   For the many centuries before Tongans and other Polynesians obtained metal from the outside world, they used miles and miles of sennit — kafa in Tongan, a strong flexible cordage created by braiding coconut-husk fibers together — to lash various parts of their wooden houses, canoes and other items together.   Thicker cords and...