11 Sep 2013

Tonga group aiming to export ngatu for high school fees

3:01 pm on 11 September 2013

The organiser of a group of women in Tonga making ngatu or tapa for sale overseas says they need the money to put their children through high school.

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 when she returned from living abroad earlier this year she realised she had to do something to help her community improve its standard of living.

"Especially when it comes to the education of the children, they can only make it to a few grades higher than the normal ones then they have to quit and it has to with the parents can't afford to pay for their education. So I decided I'd rather do something, because that's my heart. This is my roots and I love it so dearly."

Melesila Lutolofi Weilert says the ngatu have a dual use as decoration and insulation.