Vanuatu handicrafts a treat for Pasifika visitors

Connoisseurs of Pacific Island handicrafts will be spoiled for choice at Auckland’s Pasifika Business Market at the Pasifika Festival this weekend. Serah Linore of the Women’s Export Association Vanuatu (WEAV) will be bringing a range of beautifully hand crafted finely woven hats made from pandanus from Vanuatu.

“The Women’s Export Association Vanuatu is a not for profit organisation committed to helping improve the livelihoods of women artisans through fair compensation for their handmade products that celebrate traditional skills and techniques that have been passed down from one generation to another,” Ms Linore said.

The association is made up of weavers whose common interest is to promote and produce handicrafts that are export viable.  “Our main objective is to find potential buyers for our hats,” she said.

WEAV has a membership of 35 from Pentecost, Paama & Futuna and numbers are growing especially when new handicraft products are designed for sampling.

It takes up to a week to have a completed hat i.e, weaving, blocking & sewing of sweatbands and hat bands.

Vanuatu’s hat weavers

The hats are made of Pandanus which is collected off the trees raw, roasted over open fire, stripped and leftover night in water then dried in the sun to get its white colouring.

“The hat is popular with tourists in Vanuatu and although we are yet to find potential buyers we are proud of our hats,” Ms Linore said.

Tourism is Vanuatu’s largest industry with on average 240,000 cruise ship and 110,000 air passengers mainly from Australia and New Zealand.  Handicrafts are an important part of the tourism in Vanuatu.

Pacific Periscope went to the WEAV Facebook page and found out more about the organisation that started up in 2016.

The co-operative celebrated the first anniversary of the co-ops registration on 8 November 2017 showcasing its first product – Hats – at the Tanna Coffee Central Eco Tourism Centre.

They celebrated their first year with a hat launching day on 8 December at their new handicraft house ‘Haus bing Handikraft’ in Port Vila.

Women were trained at hat weaving trainings during the year.  This involved learning weaving, sewing, blocking, ironing and natural whitening of the pandanus.

In October last year, the co-operative was invited to take part in the Agritourism program during Pacific Week of Agriculture where they were able to showcase the hats they had made.

For more information email PTI Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong on ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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