‘MIRACLE IN THE PACIFIC’ CAPTURES ESSENCE OF THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER’S FIRST 50 YEARS
Laie, Hawaii – December 18, 2012 – Miracle in the Pacific: The Polynesian Cultural Center, a new 184-page richly illustrated book published by Deseret Book of Salt Lake City, Utah, has captured the essence of Hawaii’s top visitor attraction, which celebrates its 50th anniversary throughout 2013.
Miracle in the Pacific tells the story of the establishment and development of the PCC’s villages, shows and programs. It also provides insights into the role that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the founding organization behind the Center, and its leaders have played in the Pacific islands since 1843 — especially in the small community of Laie, Oahu, where the PCC, Brigham Young University Hawaii and the Laie Hawaii Temple form a unique cultural-educational-spiritual foundation.
Laura F. Willes is a Provo, Utah-based author of three other publications. She is the wife of Mark H. Willes, who served on the PCC board of directors for 13 years, the last three as chairman. She also lived in Hawaii for three years while her husband served as president of the Hawaii Honolulu Mission and has visited the PCC hundreds of times.
Sister Willes spent approximately one year sifting through the work of hundreds of contributors and several earlier manuscripts, and also conducted her own research and interviews for the project, to write this overview of the Center in time for its golden anniversary.
“It was such a privilege to document the faith, hard work and sacrifices of so many that have made the Polynesian Cultural Center blossom over the past five decades,” Willes responded. “It is a great success story against improbable odds.”
“We’re grateful Miracle in the Pacific came together in the beautiful way it did, and we’re exceptionally pleased with it,” said PCC President & CEO Von D. Orgill. “Laura has captured the spirit of the Center and the unique ways the people here have been accomplishing the purposes of this special place.”
President Orgill also said Willes and her husband are BYU–Hawaii/PCC Presidents’ Leadership Council members who have been very generous in helping the Center and students at the adjoining university for many years. “This book is just the latest example: She donated all of her time and efforts in pulling this project together, and did a wonderful job. She went through all of our archives and interviewed countless people before putting pen to paper.”
“We’re excited to get this book out to the public,” said Kealii Haverly, PCC Director of In-Center Marketing. “It’s a wonderful review of the Center’s legacy, and it encompasses much of the richness of our origins as well as people — many of whom dedicated their lives to this special place — and events that have brought us to our golden anniversary.”
“Laura Willes has been a part of our PCC legacy for many years,” he added. “She has grasped the mana and creative spirit of the Center, rendering it in eloquent words.”
Haverly also praised the contributions of Tausilinuu David Hannemann, one of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s original employees and its unofficial archivist ever since. “He can talk of things that occurred 50 years ago as if it were yesterday,” he said. “He’s been a tremendous asset to Sister Willes and Miracle in the Pacific.”
Miracle in the Pacific will soon be on sale in PCC gift shops and the nearby BYU–Hawaii Bookstore, and is currently available online at DeseretBook.com. The book includes a bonus DVD, Rainbows of Paradise, featuring the Polynesian Cultural Center’s colorful canoe pageant.
Founded in 1963 as a non-profit organization, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) has entertained more than 37 million visitors, while preserving and portraying the culture, arts and crafts of Polynesia to the rest of the world. In addition, the PCC has provided financial assistance to nearly 18,000 young people from more than 70 different countries while they attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii. As a non-profit organization, 100 percent of PCC’s revenue is used for daily operations and to support education.