8 Sep 2014

Interest in handicrafts in Tonga revitalised

9:17 am on 8 September 2014

A number of training courses in Tonga are being credited with a sudden revitalisation of interest in handicrafts and Tongan culture.

The pilot Handicrafts and Cultural Tourism Support project teaches people handicraft skills as well as tourism awareness and marketing techniques.

Its national coordinator, Monalisa Palu, says what's been a surprising but very welcome aspect of the programme is the feeling of empowerment it has given people.

She says for a long time handicrafts have been seen as something that's low-skilled, and its importance hasn't been recognised as it should.

"Over the past last few months we're glad to say that there is suddenly a stronger appreciation for the hard work that these men and women are doing, because we have found out now from results and evidence that they are supporting their families through the art. So there's a revival of our appreciation of the art, at the same time we know that it actually pays for the bills."

Monalisa Palu says because of the success people are seeing, there is a staggering demand for people wanting to take part in the training.