The Auckland War Memorial Museum were keen buyers of Pacific Islands Handicrafts at Pasifika Festival recently.The unique traditional handicrafts were sold by delegates on the Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Pacific Path to Market programme at the Pasifika Festival to the Auckland Museum’s retail store.  The handicrafts were from the Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa and the Marshall Islands delegations.

The 25 small businesses and organisations were part of the programme brought to the Pasifika Festival under PTI’s Pacific Path to Market programme – a structured approach for Pacific Island businesses wanting to learn about entering the New Zealand market.

Auckland Museum’s Retail Manager Lisa Varga said, “We have a Pacific focus at Auckland Museum and welcome the opportunity to showcase product from the wider region.

“The products are so beautifully crafted and we are thrilled to offer our customers an authentic, handmade work of art,” said Ms Varga.

Pacific Periscope visited the Auckland Museum where Vanuatu’s beautifully woven, brightly coloured bags made by Aelan were displayed on the wall of an alcove next to traditional Maori carvings and art work.

“I’m thrilled to find more suppliers and it’s [the Pacific] a range we want to grow.”

“The products are so beautifully crafted and we are thrilled to offer our customers an authentic, handmade work of art,” says Auckland Museum’s Retail Manager Lisa Varga.

A draw for Museum visitors was seeing the Pacific collections in the galleries as historical artefacts and then purchasing a treasure for them to take home Ms Varga said.

The plan is to profile each individual handicraft producer and place the information next to their pieces on display.

Pricing for items was a reflection of the time that went into making the handicraft but also to keep up demand by moving the pieces.

“The prices are kept reasonable and not too high, as the idea is to move more units so that we can order more regularly. It means a lot to us that money goes back into the communities as well,” she said. The long-term aim is to establish an ongoing relationship with the island producers.

“We want to get the supply chain operating well and establishing good working relationships with our island suppliers,” she said.

But they were not about bulk ordering handicrafts. Instead, getting unique pieces using traditional materials and techniques to keep the traditional skills alive, keep people learning them and keeping the traditions and the authenticity of the handicrafts.

“We don’t want to tell our suppliers what to make, we prefer to let them be the creative ones,” she said.  “We wouldn’t bulk order them, we want them to produce the work and go from there.”

Their first order of 30 pieces was received from Vanuatu’s Aelan, who were part of the PTI Pacific Path to Market delegation at Pasifika Festival.  Ms Varga also bought unique pieces from other the other delegates knowing there was good demand for Pacific Island handicrafts from tourists and locals as the pieces sell quickly.

“People love the woven bags, they appreciate the work involved.”

Ms Varga said they were keen on Papua New Guinea’s Bilum products bought from Sharlene Gawi of the Bilum Export Promotion Association (BEPA) and they were hoping to receive Bilum bags in future.

For more information please contact: Joe Fuavao, PT&I Trade Development Manager on

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