Two new VP’s at Polynesian Cultural Center

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The Polynesian Cultural Center has recently named two new vice presidents:

(Left): Jarod Hester, PCC VP of Finance and Chief Finance Officer (CFO); and (right): Tai Vuniwai, PCC VP of Human Resources.

Jarod Hester, VP of Finance and CFO

Hester joined the PCC about four years ago as the Financial Controller. In his new position, he succeeded Douglas F. Lyons, who was temporarily “on loan” for several years from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints financial administration offices in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has returned there.

Hester, who was born in England but raised in New Zealand, had previously worked for 20 years in church-related finance in Auckland before coming to Laie. His work there included almost nine years of being controller for the Pacific islands area, which included extensive travel throughout the South Pacific.

“We’ve been living in Hawaii for just over four years, and we’ve been loving it,” Hester said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity and excited about my new position, which keeps me very busy. It’s a real privilege to work for the Polynesian Cultural Center.”

Tai Vuniwai, VP of Human Resources

Vuniwai, who was born in Suva, Fiji, has recently succeeded John Muaina as the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Vice President of Human Resources.

He worked the previous five years for Deseret Mutual Benefits Administrators (DMBA), which oversees health and finance-related benefits for 26 Latter-day Saint-related organizations, including BYU–Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Prior to that, he worked an additional six years in the same field in Honolulu.

Vuniwai first came to Laie as a child when his father attended BYUH and worked at the Center (the family later moved to the San Francisco Bay area). He followed his father’s lead, worked at the PCC as a student dancer and canoe guide, and graduated from BYUH 2001.

Like coming back home

Working at the PCC again is “like going on a long journey, and coming back home,” Vuniwai said. “At DMBA I saw all of the great things taking place here, but to now be able to ‘play with the team’ is really exciting.”

“It’s also nice to have the opportunity to take what I’ve learned at DMBA and service our people more closely. That’s probably my number-one priority, how to elevate the ‘life demand’ of our employees. I mean, how do we create a great work experience for both student and fulltime employees, understanding that they have a life outside of work, so they can be happy here, and transition back home with the same emotions.”

“We have wonderful people here,” Vuniwai continued. “We have a wonderful ‘family,’ and like any family, there are always opportunities for us to do a little better than we did before, and still hold onto our core values: Our particular relationships and taking care of our people, preserving the culture of what we have.”

“I want to thank everyone for welcoming me to the PCC.”


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Mike Foley


Story and photos by Mike Foley, who has been a full-time freelance writer and digital media specialist since 2002. Prior to that he had a long career in marketing communications, PR, journalism and university education. Foley learned to speak fluent Samoan as a Mormon missionary before moving to Laie in 1967 — and still does. He has traveled extensively over the years throughout Polynesia, other Pacific islands and Asia. Foley is mostly retired now, but continues to contribute to PCC and various other media.

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