And now her two daughters Teanau Ivirangi and Marangi Taime are also learning the art.
While visiting Rarotonga from Penrhyn she took a stall at the LoKal magazine launch last week, giving spectators the rare opportunity to watch her fine fingerwork up close.
She says the woven strands come from the inner soft leaves of the coconut palm which are torn and boiled to soften them to make them more workable. The size of the hat depends on the size of the frame she uses.
“It takes about two to three days to make each hat, depending on how many hours a day you put into it and how complicated the design.”
Mereani says she changes the design depending on how she feels about it. “It’s up to the imagination and how I feel, and different patterns mean different things as well.” Mereani left Penrhyn with her family to fly to her mother’s 90th birthday party in New Zealand, followed by a 10- month stay in Rarotonga.
“It’s been nearly a year since we were home, I’m looking forward to going back to Penrhyn.” Her daughter Teanau will stay behind in Rarotonga this year to attend college, while her younger sister, 10-year-old Marangi is also looking forward to going home to Penrhyn.
“But I’m not looking forward to going back to school.”