Established 50 years ago to celebrate the people and cultures of Polynesia with the rest of the world, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) will now be a perpetual place of honor for esteemed football champions of Polynesia.
The PCC will be the permanent home of the new Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, with the exhibit recognizing the sport’s greatest players, coaches and contributors from Polynesia scheduled to open in January 2015. The announcement was made at a press conference held on Friday, Jan. 24, at PCC, which was attended by inductees of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural 2014 class and members of its board of directors (listed below).
“Our Polynesian football heroes and the legacy they represent have inspired all of us who love the sport. We’re deeply honored to be the place where people will learn about their exploits and Polynesia’s history in football,” said Alfred Grace, PCC President and CEO.
Jesse Sapolu, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, noted, “When we officially established the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame six months ago, the decision to choose Hawaii as our home was easy. It was important that our home be reflective of the culture and people of Polynesia, and for us, there was only one place, the Polynesian Cultural Center.”
The new Hall of Fame exhibit will be placed in the area between the PCC’s main entrance and the Pacific Theater, site of the award-winning evening show, Ha: Breath of Life, and special events throughout the year, including the World Fireknife Championships. The location and PCC’s stature as one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions ensure the exhibit will be highly visible to guests from around the world.
2014 Class of Inductees – Polynesian Football Hall of Fame
- Kurt Gouveia – Raised in Waianae (Oahu); 13-year NFL linebacker; 2-time Super Bowl Champion with the Washington Redskins
- Olin Kreutz – Raised in Honolulu; 14-year NFL center, including 13 years with the Chicago Bears; 4-time All-Pro
- Kevin Mawae – 16-year NFL center with three teams; 8-time NFL All-Pro
- Jack Thompson – “The Throwin’ Samoan”; NCAA Record-Setting Quarterback for Washington State; 6-Year NFL Pro
- Ken Niumatalolo – Born in Laie (Oahu); Quarterback for the University of Hawaii; Currently Head Coach of the Naval Academy
- Junior Seau (deceased) – 20-year NFL linebacker, including 13 years with the San Diego Chargers; 10-time All Pro
- Herman Wedemeyer (deceased) – Born in Hilo (Hawaii); Halfback at St. Mary’s College; Hawaii’s first consensus All-American; Finished 4th in the Heisman (1945)
Starting next year, the PCC will be the site for future enshrinement ceremonies of inductees into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. In addition, the PCC is teaming up with the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors to develop youth and community educational initiatives, and marketing programs to promote the exhibit and Polynesia’s place in the history of football.
Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors
Following are the Board of Directors for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, all of whom have competed in the NFL and have strong ties to Polynesia’s football tradition.
- Jesse Sapolu – Chairman and Co-Founder
- Maa Tanuvasa – Vice Chairman and Co-Founder
- Vai Sikahema – Board Member
- Troy Polamalu – Board Member
- June Jones – Board Member
- Reno Mahe – Board Member
Hall of Fame Adds to PCC’s $100 Million in Improvements
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame exhibit will complement the $100 million in facility and experiential improvements that the PCC is scheduled to complete with the grand opening of the newly expanded Pacific Marketplace in the fourth quarter. Other recent improvements of note for the enjoyment of guests include:
- A rejuvenated Hawaii Village with a design and presentation inspired by the ahupuaa (land division used by ancient Hawaiians, usually extending from the uplands to the sea) that features new activities, architecture and exhibits honoring the native Hawaiian culture.
- Hawaiian Journey, a new cinematic experience housed in a theater built to resemble a volcano and shown on a state-of-the art, high-definition, digital projection system with a 40’x74’ screen, the largest in Hawaii. The presentation brings to life the story of native Hawaiians and their connection to the aina (land) utilizing special effects that touch all senses.
- Renovation of Hale Aloha, home to the award-winning Alii Luau experience that features delicious cuisine and the lively entertainment of the Hawaiian Islands.
- Revitalized Samoa Village, historically one of PCC’s most popular venues due to its exciting presentations, including the fire making and coconut husking demonstrations.
- Renovated Aotearoa Village, featuring intricately designed carvings in the native Totara timber of New Zealand honoring Hawaikiroa, the ancient Polynesian navigator.