1 Oct 2013

Vanuatu plan to use clothing to bridge cultural gap with Chinese

5:18 pm on 1 October 2013

The Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre is hoping local designers and tailors can use clothing to bridge a cultural gap between ni-Vanuatu people and Chinese immigrants.

Marcellin Abong says there is no cultural interaction between Chinese and ni-Vanuatu despite a growing Chinese population.

He spoke to Beverley Tse about one method of creating some integration between the two.

MARCELLIN ABONG: The influence of the Chinese culture is very, very strong in terms of clothing, for example. A lot of their clothes come from China, so when you go to the shops you see all the clothes are Chinese-made. And then we tried to have some sort of cultural co-operation with China only for when the Chinese government sent the tailor's group to Vanuatu, but we need to the cultural interaction between the two.

BEVERLEY TSE: How can that be achieved?

MA: I don't know, because we when we organised the National Arts Festival and we tried to invite all cultural groups and Chinese people, as well, to come and perform in this National Arts Festival, it's very hard to convince them. That is why all the relationships between Vanuatu people and the Chinese people living in Port Vila and doing business is only for business purposes.

BT: Just going back to the point you made about the clothing, the clothing that people wear here - do you think that's having an impact on the traditional clothing that people wear?

MA: Yeah, because we are now... [Indistinct] Something I try to envisage and to encourage is if we can use some of the traditional designs and also if people can sew their own clothes and their own style of clothes, like Fiji or Samoa or some of the Pacific countries. When you go to these countries, Polynesian countries, you see that there. The materials come from China, but because we don't have people who can create models of clothes for the Vanuatu people to wear... We have our traditional clothes, but to wear these clothes in the modern times is very hard. To try to marry the traditional with the modern side of it and create new clothes for the Vanuatu people with traditional designs, this is what I'm trying to do now with my corporate plan - try to encourage tailors, encourage designers to create 'Made in Vanuatu', not 'Made in China'.