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Web Exclusive: Ha at the Polynesian Cultural Center is Worth the Trip


I have to admit, when I was first invited to the see Ha: Breath of Life, the Polynesian Cultural Center’s newest show, I was a bit skeptical. Not that I didn’t appreciate the invitation, but I’ve been to my fair share of luaus and other tourist activities.

The new show debuted last summer and this past Saturday I went and checked it out. The outdoor auditorium was filled by 7 p.m., with a mixed audience of tourists and locals. The show started promptly at 7:30.

The central theme of Ha—which in Hawaiian means “breath”—is a simple, universal one, capturing the importance of family, love, culture and tradition. We followed Mana, the main character, from his birth, to the birth of his own child. The story line even includes a fight scene and a death. The performances weave in the ancient traditions of Polynesia, Samoa, Tahiti and Hawaii, and include chants and songs spoken in their native languages.


I appreciated that Ha did not include the cheesy narration you find in other shows (i.e. explaining what ohana means and who King Kamehameha was). However, like other shows, Ha features more modern costumes and, fire dancers, but they’re always fun to watch. In fact, more than 100 performers participate in Ha nightly.

Overall, Ha is an entertaining night out. While it is clearly still aimed at tourists, and is meant to entertain, I found it well produced and more authentic than your average show as well as more entertaining. PCC is great for entertaining out-of-town guests, but you might want to reconsider and make the trek to Laie for yourself.


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Honolulu Magazine July 2020
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