Tokelau is renown throughout the Pacific for the quality of its handicrafts.
Renewed efforts are being made by the Government of Tokelau to revitalise the long dormant national handicraft committee, as a means to increase economic activities that promote and preserve Tokelau’s culture & traditions.
Handicrafts are unique expressions of Tokelau’s culture or economy through its local craftsmanship and its materials.
Photo opposite: Women in Tokelau creating handicrafts. Photo by Peki Lepaio, Courtesy of NZ Herald.
Toku titi laukie - Weaving) (2021)
Tokelau Hutt Valley Sports & Culture Association share this video highlighting the significance of the laukie and lauhulu — a treasured resource in Tokelau that abundantly grows on Nukunonu. Mothers Velonika, Matalena and Meli elaborate on the many ways it is used in weaving and contributes to significant events such as the titi (woven dance skirt), kofu fakaipoipo (wedding dress) or totuliaga (wedding mat for the newlyweds).
Video by P&L Ltd, Fraser Rudman on behalf of Tokelau Hutt Valley Sports & Culture Association and ACE Aotearoa
Taulima - Make Your Own
Taulima is part of Tokelauan traditional, cultural wear. These bracelets are normally worn by both males and females, during Tokelauan dance performances. In 2020 the Christchurch Library ran a workshop on how to make your very own Taulima. You can click on this link to visit the Christchurch Library website or click on here to download a PDF version of the instructions.
Weaving in Tokelau (2018)
Watch Novena Petelo explain how she learnt traditional Tokelaun weaving techniques from her mother, and hear about some of the tools she uses in her practice. https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/
A New Era
The first official meeting of the Tokelau National Handicraft Committee was held from 5 to 8 June 2017 at the Insel Fehmarn Hotel in Apia, Samoa. It was attended by three representatives from each island in Tokelau: Nukunonu, Atafu and Fakofo.
Representatives comprised two women and one man from each respective island. The meeting was officially opened by the Minister of Telecommunication and upcoming Minister for Fisheries, Honourable Mose Pelasio on behalf of the Minister for Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment (EDNRE) and the Department.
The official opening was also attended by the three ministers, witnessing this occasion as a way forward for economic development in Tokelau.
Hon. Mose Pelasio, Minister for Telecommunication and upcoming Minister for FisheriesHon. Mose Pelasio in his opening speech, acknowledged the presence of the elders from the Nuku. He also extended his sincere gratitude to his fellow Ministers for making Tokelau affairs a priority in attending this auspicious occasion. Noting the participation of few elderly participants, he expressed his heart-felt affection towards them and commented on their courage and bravery to travel through rough seas to make this initiative a reality for Tokelau.
In line with their departmental strategic plan 2016-2020, the Department of EDNRE through its Economic Development Unit, organised to revitalize the long dormant handicraft committee. It existed up until the early 1990s as a means to increase economic activities that promote and preserve Tokelau’s culture & traditions. Handicrafts are unique expressions of Tokelau’s culture or economy through its local craftsmanship and its materials. The Minister in his speech highlighted the uniqueness of Tokelau’s handicraft as compared to other Pacific Islands. Tokelauan handicrafts are well known for their finesse or intricate and elegant presentation that carries with it the Tokelauan identity and culture.
With globalisation, products are becoming more and more commoditized including handicrafts, which are now part of a much larger home accessory market. Hence, the Tokelau National Handicraft Committee now has taken the challenge to take Tokelau’s handicrafts and craftsmanship a step forward from home to showcase their culture and fine traditions to the world. In addressing this, the Minister fully supported this initiative and reiterated that this is a “dawn of a new era”.
A way forward that is now a priority fully supported by Tokelau and at the same time Tokelauans are mindful of the environmental and economic sustainability aspects, given its limited resources. It was identified that each islands in Tokelau has their own conservation strategies that guide them to sustainably using their limited natural resources.
The committee’s week-long meeting engaged them to look at establishing a market here in Samoa with the possibility of extending the market overseas in the future, scrutinising the prices of handicraft to best suit their target customers and also engage in tours around excelling small business outlets in Apia.
Photo: Participants to the Tokelau National Handicraft Committee meeting, June 2017. For more information visit Tokelau Government website.
Apia Market a Success
Tourists and local buyers flocked to the Tokelau National Handicraft Market day to grab a piece of Tokelau’s authentic handicrafts. The event took place on Tuesday 13 June 2017 at the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office (TALO), in the SNPF Plaza, Apia, Samoa.
Through the social media page of the Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment (EDNRE), the word went out far and wide. Local and international buyers placed orders for this exceptional craft, found nowhere else in the Pacific. This was indeed an indication that the brief market day arranged by the EDNRE, Apia, was a success.
Following the Tokelau National Handicraft Committee (NHC) meeting last week, EDNRE organised a market day aimed at showcasing the genuine Tokelau handicrafts and carvings. The intricate designs and detail work mirror Tokelau’s unique speciality in handicrafts and carvings. The focus here was on home-made products; if one looks closely or hard enough, it is actually displaying Tokelau’s fine art and identity. The buyers fell in love with the quality of the products on show.
“Tokelau handicrafts are of higher quality compared to other handicrafts that are being sold here in Samoa, so it is worth a buy,” says Margaret Sapolu, consultant to EDNRE.
The department ensured that all the handicrafts sold are of the highest quality that satisfies the needs of the customers. Tokelauan handicrafts are well known for their quality: no weave is accidental but rather the result of priceless traditional intelligence and art.
A variety of products with a wide price range were on display for the customers and visitors. The Tokelau NHC ensured a fair value on the products that includes labour cost, raw materials, shipping freight and marketing costs. One may admire the finesse and elegant presentation of the handicrafts but it also comes with total dedication and hard work.
The Division of Economic Development, together with the Fatupaepae groups in all atolls in Tokelau, is now stepping up to develop the handicraft and carving trade of Tokelau. This will increase not only employment opportunities but also generates household income and prospective further economic development of the small island nation.
The sales of handicrafts will be recurring event and more information can be gathered from the EDNRE office, Tokelau Apia Liaison Office, SNPF Building, Apia; contact us on +685 7708444 or +685 7702396, or visit the EDNRE Facebook page.
Story and pictures by Loia Tausi
Department of EDNRE
Mobile: +685 7708444
Published verbatim in Samoa Observer on 17 June 2017 at http://sobserver.ws/en/17_06_2017/local/21192/Tokelau-handicraft-market-day-in-Apia-a-huge-success.htm
Source: From Government of Tokelau.
The art of the pa (2013)
Tataga Pasifika celebrate Tokelau language week by talking to carvers of pa, made from the beautiful mother of pearl shell. The pa pendant is a symbol of identity for Tokelauans and they spoke to a family of pa carvers in Whangaparoa.