Laie has been a special place for a very long time. With the world-famous Polynesian Cultural Center, BYU as an international focal point of education and the Laie Hawaii Temple as a spiritual apex, the community encompasses a unique feeling that radiates far beyond the wave-swept beaches.
By 1865 the LDS Church purchased an approximately 6,000-acre plantation in Laie and began building a community and a plantation. Within 10 years, Laie became a favorite visiting place for King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani, who were especially delighted in the number of Hawaiian children thriving in the community. King Kalakaua even contributed to building the community chapel and participated in laying the corner stones and in its dedication ceremonies. Jump ahead to spring of 1915, when President Joseph F. Smith was in Hawaii on business when he was moved by a spiritual impulse to dedicate a site for the Laie Hawaii Temple.
The setting is serene, surrounded by lush Hawaiian flora on a gently rising hill that features cascading pools and a large fountain to lift your thoughts. Travelers along Kamehameha Highway can’t miss the exquisite Hale Laa Boulevard that leads to the temple which graces the north shore of Oahu just a half mile from the Pacific Ocean.
Over the years, the Laie community and plantation grew and in 1921 the concept of having Polynesian villages for the increasing number of Mormon Maori, Tongans, Tahitians and Samoans started to form. The potential of such a concept was well established in the late 1940s when the Church members in Laie held a very profitable fund-raising luau. In early 1962, then President McKay authorized construction of the Polynesian Cultural Center. He knew the completed project would provide much-needed and meaningful employment for the struggling students in then-rural Laie, as well as add an important dimension to their studies.
In the earliest years, Saturday was the only night villagers at the Polynesian Cultural Center could draw a big enough crowd to fill the 600-seat amphitheater, which seats 2,800 today. Many other additions followed the addition of the IMAX, a shopping plaza featuring a large collection of authentic island merchandise and cultural presentations were lengthened to an hour each featuring songs and dances that take guests on a journey around the Polynesian Islands and into the heart of the people.
I really enjoyed visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center. The islanders openly shared their various foods and traditions joyfully with anyone who entered. I pounded a bamboo instrument in Fiji, played a stick game with an Aotearoan and received a temporary tattoo in Tahiti. While watching the enchanting canoe pageant (not to be missed) I was able to cool down with a dish of fresh pineapple dole whip. I highly recommend anyone traveling to Oahu to spend a full day visiting this special place of entertainment and education. http://www.polynesia.com/