The wharenui connecting Hawai’i to Aotearoa

“The people back home, who built this whare, you can still feel to this day.” 

For 60 years, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) In Hawai’i has been a space where the cultures of the Pacific come together to showcase their tikanga to people from all over the world. 

For the many Māori who have lived in Hawai’i the centre has been a place where they can feel closer to home and their culture. 

In this episode of Ohinga, one whānau Māori who have been part of The Polynesian Cultural Centre explains what it means to have a connection to their turangawaewae so far from home. 

Hawaikiroa, the Māori meeting house inside the centre’s complex, is one of only five wharenui that stands outside of Aotearoa and has acted as the heart for the Māori village in PCC. 

Paora Gemmell and his sister Lisa – who are studying in Hawai’i and work at the PCC – have a close and personal connection to Hawaikiroa as it was modelled after their own wharenui in Nūkaha. 

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

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