Hard work reveals why rito hats are so special

Friday July 24, 2020 Written by Published in Culture
Mama Orometua Temaria Saitu-Marsters shares her rito hat-making skills with the Cook Islands Christian Church Vainetini in Ngatangiia. Photo: MELINA ETCHES / 20072116 Mama Orometua Temaria Saitu-Marsters shares her rito hat-making skills with the Cook Islands Christian Church Vainetini in Ngatangiia. Photo: MELINA ETCHES / 20072116

Rarotonga women are toiling to create a sea of white on White Sunday.

The popular rito hats from the Northern group islands are treasured and sought after – and now they’re being made right here in Raro.

Mama Orometua Temaria Saitu-Marsters, the Ngatangiia Cook Islands Christian Church pastor’s wife, is teaching women in the village to weave the Northern group rito hats.

Group organiser Teroro Totini said: “It took a week to cut, prepare, boil, dry and process the coconut leaves to its final weaving product – rito (white) and rito tita (light brownish off cuts).

“Just the preparation process is very time consuming and it makes us realise the hard work that goes into the making of one special hat and the cost of these beautiful hats are justified.

“We are all want to learn this craft and appreciate Mama Orometua teaching us her skills,” said Totini.Teroro Totini is proud of the first “rito tita” hat she made, and has started on her second. Photo: MELINA ETCHES 20072115

“Our goal is for each women to complete a white rito hat to wear to church on ‘White Sunday’ – the first Sunday in September.”

The previous Mama Orometua for the village passed on her valued tivaivai sewing skills, she added.

It takes seven kao (new coconut shoots in the middle of the tree) to weave one Northern rito hat.

* People who are cutting down their coconut trees, the women would appreciate the new inner shoots in the center, please call Teroro Totini on phone 73660.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Korrena Kidd Saturday, 25 July 2020 09:46 posted by Korrena Kidd

    Tumeke to potai... Realy need to come to learn how to weave these potai... Hoping to come to Rarotonga soon... After these traveling rules...
    I have Aitutaki whakapapa on my mums side... Trying to research it which is hard as my koro passed when mum was 16...
    He ataahua Nga mahi...

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