Made in Tongareva handicrafts now available online

Wednesday 7 April 2021 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in National, Outer Islands

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Made in Tongareva handicrafts now available online
Some of the Tongareva Women Handicrafts Group members Sakirere Tonitara (left), Abba Arikisau Isaaka, Masilina Turama and Metuakore Marsters. SUPPLIED/21040610.

Colourful intricately woven rito hats and other handicraft made in Tongareva (Penrhyn) are now available for sale on social media platform, Facebook.

The women on the island are excited their handicrafts are now displayed online and are motivated to create more products to sell to earn an income.

The island’s Executive Officer (EO) Puna Vano says he created a Facebook page “Tongareva Women Handicrafts” to assist the women to earn extra income for their families.

“We are trying to find ways for how people can earn money here, not just those in government, but everyone,” said Vano.

“If people are given the opportunity to earn on their own islands using natural products, they’ll stay.

“We do not charge commission; we sell the crafts directly from here and will package and freight it to Rarotonga - the buyer just has to pay for the freight charges.”

Over 20 women are now involved in weaving. They are pleased to have someone to organise the transportation and payments of the crafts to Rarotonga.

“Customers also need to realise how much work goes into the creation of one hat, it takes rito (new inner leaves of the coconut trees) from six coconut trees to make one hat,” Vano said.

“Weaving is the easy part, it’s the preparation of the rito that’s difficult and time consuming.

“We want to promote their handiwork. Later we will also have a fishing project for the men to help them earn an extra income too.”

Hats, visor hats, ear rings, necklaces and fans in bold and bright colours are available.

Rito weaving is a unique art commonly practiced on the northern group islands of Tongareva, Manihiki and Rakahanga.