Mother and daughter rekindle lost tradition

A Tongan mother and her daughter are on a mission to rekindle the lost tradition of tapa making in a village on Vava’u, making a large-scale tapa work in the process.

The work of Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows and Tui Emma Gillies is now on display in Auckland at Falevai Flava, a collaborative art tapa project.

The pair worked alongside locals once they realised the art of making ngatu hadn’t been done in Falevai Village for decades. Sulieti Burrows said she celebrated the revitalisation of the old art form, but going back evoked a lot of memories, including one of her mother hitting the bark of the mulberry tree.

“Actually that’s very important because that’s my village. And that is where I grew up. And we went over there to do the project and it just reminded me about everything growing up, and I could see my mum sitting over there, beating.”

The duo’s tapa work is on display at the Mangere Arts Centre until April 14.