11 Sep 2013

Tongan community trying to export ngatu

8:45 pm on 11 September 2013

A group of women in Tonga is working to set up a commercial venture selling ngatu, or tapa, overseas.

The group's organiser, Melesila Lutolofi Weilert, says 41 women in the village of Ha'atafu on the main island Tongatapu have been making ngatu and selling them to relatives overseas but their aim is to commercially export them.

She says ngatu can be used both as decoration and insulation, as she found out when she lived in the United States.

"I used it for decoration but then I realise how good it is because - and it does make sense - because that's what we used in the old days when I grew up - we used the tapa for blankets. And the older it gets the better it is."

Melesila Lutolofi Weilert says the main reason for setting up the project is to enable the women involved to put their children through high school.