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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Hotel Taharaa, Papeete, Tahiti (hotel)
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Hotel Taharaa, Papeete, Tahiti (hotel)
No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-08-27 7:30 pm   Permalink

first of all...to Dustycajun, I meant no offense concerning your "A" frame references. For if it was not for you and all your great posts I would not have had my Polynesian fires rekindled! I guess that is the "Mr. Clean" in me.
With regards to the Tiki and the surrounding mystery, I was not there for its installation nor do I know who commissioned the work. But I can speculate. First, there were 4 woods available on the Pacific coast at that time....pine, fir, redwood and cedar of a size suitable for such a carving. Ponderosa pine, the cheapest, was chosen to use. It is the most susceptible to termites and rot and would have been my last choice. By comparing the chin height of the Tiki to the lower edge of the glu-lam beams supporting the Porte Cochere in the first available photos (new landscaping) to more recent photos, you can see there is no difference in height. Hence, the Tike is still at the original mounting height. The base came later and was constructed around the carving as it was originally installed. Preventative measures must have been taken at that time to protect it from rot and termites and to structurally secure it to the base (I hope), otherwise it would have fallen over a long time ago. I am not sure that this is what happened. I am just realizing, after 46 years, that I got left out of the loop! I checked my landscape plans and found only a note to a drawn circle in the center of the turn around stating "Tiki here." I wish I knew more....more research...more research!
That is the long way around to say "I think you are correct," Bigbrotiki.

[ This Message was edited by: No No 2013-08-27 19:36 ]

[ This Message was edited by: No No 2013-08-27 19:37 ]


 
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No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-08-29 3:09 pm   Permalink

It never ceases to amaze me that a team that worked so well could have had such bad communication problems. Case in point: Neal Prince commissioned a 21 ton REDWOOD Tiki. Ed Crissman used a PONDEROSA PINE to carved a 20 foot tall tiki weighing 5 1/2 tons. Neal wanted it in the lobby and it ended up about where I showed it on my landscape plan because he thought it was too heavy. hmmmm. A break for me!

Imagine the fact that no one on the island knew how to carve a tiki .....give me a break! His writers need to make up better stories and write in more better English. (See excerpt from Neal Prince Trust below)



Comments:
www.nealprince-asid.com

Mr. Prince designed the interiors of the Hotel. During this time, no one on the island had the skills or the know how to carve a Tikis. Thus, Mr. Prince hired the Oceanic Arts Inc., of Whittier, California (USA) to produce Mr. Prince's sketches. The owners of said firm, Leroy Schmaitz and Robert Van OOsting produced the 21-foot Tiki for Mr. Prince. When the Tiki was delivered, the Tiki was to be placed in the lobby of the Hotel. However, due to the weight and height of the Tiki, it was not able to fit. So, the telephone Mr. Prince and inquire what to do with the Tiki. Mr. Prince asked where the Tiki is now, and the Mr. Crissman noted that it is currently located in the front of the hotel, which Mr. Prince replied, "Great, then leave it right there!!". And so, it remain an icon of the Hotel for many years until the Hotel closed.


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No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-09-22 7:41 pm   Permalink

Well, I am back again to hopefully add a little color to this part of the Tahara'a story.
croe67, you might appreciate this tale more than the others. Where you were on the trail to the black sand beach is just about where this story begins. It was in the spring of 1967 on a beautiful sunny day. The rough outline of the "Passage Way to Paradise" trail as we then called it, was slowly forging its way to the beach. Tex, the gruff, ram rod, project superintendent was concerned with the progress of the brush cutting crew as it related to the tight schedule we were on. He decided to leave the confines of the job shack and check out the progress for himself. When he came to the point on the trail, just about where you were, he was flabbergasted to see all 11 members of the crew sitting on the side of the trail singing songs. In a loud voice, with hands and arms gesturing,he expressed his displeasure with their progress. The interpreter tried his very best to convey the superintendent's concerns but to no avail. The crew foreman, however, got the message. Without hesitation, he climbed the nearest cocoanut tree barefoot, cut one and came back down to the ground. With one swipe of his machete, he clipped off the top. With the whitish milk splashing out, he handed it to Tex, sat down and resumed singing and playing his uke. In a fit of anger, Tex fired the entire crew on the spot. He told the interpreter to hire more men. What he did not know was the fact that this was the only brush cutting crew on the island. No one else would work in their place. After almost a month of attempted recruiting, which turned out to be an exercise in futility, Tex ate humble pie, apologized, gave them a raise and soon they were back on the job. MORAL: Tahitian Culture....learn it and engage your brain before your mouth. When a Tahitian offers you a drink, Tahitian style, graciously accept it and then talk calmly. It's a great trail!


 
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croe67
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 05, 2003
Posts: 1079
From: Land of Cheese & Beer
Posted: 2013-09-23 06:43 am   Permalink

That's a great tale of the trail, No No.

Part of me still wishes we would have continued on that trail, but the cautious side of me is still glad that we made it to Rarotonga instead of sitting in a Tahitian jail
Would have loved to explore & document the place in it's current state on film....


 
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TropicDrinkBoy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 27, 2011
Posts: 273
Posted: 2013-09-23 09:22 am   Permalink

What a great story No No! While growing up my family never dared to dream of let alone visit such an exotic locale. By sharing your insider stories I've been able to visit this grand hotel in some ways better than if I had been a guest. Thanks!

 
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No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-09-29 2:06 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the kind words. Below, is a summary of the hotel history that may help you understand where your experience with the hotel fits in the big scheme of things.

Societe Hoteliere De Tahara’a
Beginning to End
This is the sad story of arguably the finest architectural achievement in hotel design in Polynesia and its tragic slide into ruin. I will attempt to summarize the ownership of the hotel so that you can better understand its fall from grace if you ever get a chance to see it.
• 1966…. Joe Long negotiates a loan with the French Government, takes on Pan American Airlines as a partner, buys Tahara’a Hill, establishes the project team and work gets underway.
• 1967…. Hotel construction commences. At that time, I went to Pateete to select a nurseryman and start growing most of the plants required to landscape the property. A small Pitch & Put golf course was laid out at that time.
• 1969…. The grand opening followed two years of design, construction, decorating, landscaping, staffing and training. It was operated by International Hotel Corporation, a subsidiary of Pan American Airlines.
• 1974….The operating agreement with IHC was terminated and the day to day management of Tahara’a was handled locally for the next thirteen years.
• 1987…. Joe Long sold the hotel, thus ending a 21 year long love affair with Lone Tree Hill, Tahara’a. The buyer was Adriaan Zacha, the head of a Hong Kong Investment Company.
• !988…. The hotel was renamed the Hyatt Regency Tahiti.
• 1989…. Zacha then sold the hotel to a Japanese investment company called E.I.E.
• 1994…. E.I.E. in turn, sold the hotel, still operating under the moniker of Hyatt Regency Tahiti, to a holding company named Societe Hoteliere De Tahara’a. The head of this group was Gaston Flosse, the president of French Polynesia.
• 1995….Another group, whose majority shareholder is Reginald Flosse, Gaston’s son, purchased the hotel.
• 1997….Hyatt continued as the operator until their contract ran out in May. Flosse changed the name again to Hotel Royal Matavai and operated it until he promptly closed its doors on 1.1.98. Employees were laid off, furnishings were sold, as great plans for an 18 month renovation were revealed. Nothing ever happened and the hotel fell into disrepair! Ten years passed. Decay set in. Then….
• 1998-2008… A rebirth was announced, as plans to turn the old Tahara’a into a residence called Matavai Bay by 2010 were revealed. Well……just more smoke. Joe would turn over in his grave!
• The one bright spot in this tragic tale is the fact that the gardens, for whatever reason to this day, are still maintained and the Tiki still stands tall!(47 years later) A fact that is not lost on me. Jan Prince, a writer for the Tahiti Beach Press, told me that this last July, during the Annual Festival of Music, a concert was held in the gardens. I wish I could have been there.


 
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No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-10-11 7:24 pm   Permalink

Just a few thoughts that came to mind in the past week. When I arrived in Tahiti, I was so eager to please Joe that I tried to be every where at once and do everything right and make no mistakes. So, when I was out in the field watching the work and I saw something that was not being done correctly, I would rush over and say, no! no!.....do it this way....or no! no! do it that way. That scenario unfolded so many times the workers began to say....Here comes "no no." That name stuck while I was there. In construction, everyone picks up a nick name. That is why I chose "no no" for my username on Tiki Central.



 
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TropicDrinkBoy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 27, 2011
Posts: 273
Posted: 2013-10-11 11:35 pm   Permalink

Very interesting that the hotel was in operation for only 28 years, especially since Tahiti seems to have developed into a very desirable high end vacation destination. Did the locals have any aversion to the use of tikis? The Coco Palms in Kauai didn't have any, supposedly out of respect for local customs. Also, thanks for the insight to your TikiCentral name!

 
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No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-10-13 7:41 pm   Permalink

Hey TropicDrinkBoy....
To answer the first part of your question, I believe that towards the end of his life, Joe Long lost the fire in his belly to keep his Tahara'a dream alive. After the sale, it was all down hill from there on out! To answer the second part of your question, Tiki is an integral part of Polynesian culture. The Marquesas were thought to be the point of origin for Tikis and they can now be found throughout Polynesia. They are considered protective statues, each with its own personality. The Easter Island Tikis, known as Moais, are much larger: some weighing in at over 10 tons. How they got there is still a mystery. I carved one out of volcanic stone for Joe upon my return from Tahiti and it still has a place in their gardens. The main aversion to Tiki amongst Polynesian natives is voiced by the large segment of the population that has converted to Christianity. As you may know, Christians believe that there is but one God, and they do not worship idols which they consider false gods.

[ This Message was edited by: No No 2013-10-13 19:49 ]


 
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No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-10-13 8:34 pm   Permalink

More thoughts....
On my first flight to Tahiti, I was accompanied by George Whisenand, Architect/Civil Engineer for the project. George was uniquely qualified to solve the challenges presented by this project. In the 10 hours we sat side by side, I learned more about Tahara'a than I could have ever hoped to have learned in any other setting. The foundation for my work had been laid....thank you George.
The site for Tahara'a was a difficult one....remote, steep, unforgiving and full of surprises. Added to the physical limitations, were the local building code requirements. The goal was to construct a 12 story, 200 room hotel, the likes of which had never been seen before. The building code required that no building could be any taller than 2/3 the height of the tallest palm tree on the island!! What?? We needed to circumvent this requirement. So George reasoned that if each floor of the hotel was an entity unto itself, both structurally and architecturally, the design would comply with the code. He flipped the hotel upside down, staggered the floors to make them separate structures and cascaded them down the cliff. Floor 12 instantly became floor 1 and the design problem was solved. Compaction testing of the slope confirmed that the weight bearing capacity of the soil would not have held up such a tall building anyway. Many other construction difficulties were overcome including the weight of the concrete and the concrete blocks manufactured on site. Originally, they were way too heavy. We finally found some light volcanic gravels to use....all turned out well.
The next adventure is the saga of the hammer head crane.

[ This Message was edited by: no no 2013-10-14 13:59 ]


 
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No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-10-14 8:18 pm   Permalink

Most high rise building projects require the use of a crane. Tahara'a was no exception. this is a story of the hammer head crane used at Tahara'a.
Tex, the project super, was in his job site trailer, looking out the window over Matavai Bay. He was anxious and cranky. Mumbling under his breath about some innocuous construction problem, we all knew the real reason for his irritability. Where was his house boat? It was several days overdue. With his binoculars he scanned the horizon all the way to Moorea. Then without warning, he let out a jubilant cry...There it is!! There it is!! He jumped up, ran out, got in the Rover and headed to Papeete. It seemed that Tex had hired a sailor of sorts to bring his house boat from Sausalito,(near San Francisco) to Tahiti. A daunting task, to be sure, for the very best of nautical men. Tex was happy. The red haired, bearded adventurer was not so happy. He was out of a job. But Tex had a solution to that problem. See that pile of crates over there, Tex said with a smile,... those are crane parts. That over there, is the concrete pad where it gets built. I am going to sail my house boat to Moorea for 2 weeks. When I get back, if it is standing tall, you have a job....see you later. Oh, by the way, the assembly instructions are written in French......The sailor became a hammer head crane operator.


 
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No No
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 25, 2013
Posts: 15
From: Volcano, Calif.
Posted: 2013-10-18 7:48 pm   Permalink

Time passed and things were not well with red beard. I am very sorry, but I do not remember his true name. It seems that he contracted a parasite in his belly while in Central America that went undetected for months after he arrived with Tex's boat in Tahiti. He lost a lot of weight and all his energy. He was put on "rest leave" so that medical treatment could bring him back to good health. An understudy of sorts, "the wild A-rab" took his place. In general terms, he operated the crane with reckless abandon. In actuality, he somehow got the job done fast, efficiently and safely which was a key factor in keeping the project on schedule.
Let me digress for a moment and explain one of the most consternating problems this project faced. In simple terms....French, English, Tahitian. Arabic, German and Chinese. Maybe there were more languages spoken that I was not aware of, but those were the ones I knew of. To communicate to "The wild A-rab" just exactly what I wanted was done with sign language and a wing and a prayer.
As the project came out of the ground, rising from floor 12 to floor 1, There were certain landscape elements that needed to be put in place. Palm trees needed to be planted between the floor groupings. With a dump truck and back-hoe we went into the countryside, bought full grown palm trees from land owners for $25 +/- dug them up and brought them back to the site. Large holes were dug between the rooms. The palm trees were placed in nets and secured to the crane drop line. I mounted the root ball and away we went!! I directed the decent, twelve stories down, with hand signals. The tree was successfully placed in the planting hole. The process was repeated many times over.


 
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