Keeping tradition alive

Vitalina Tuibau sits inside a makeshift shed making thatch covers for a bure at Draunikula Village in Galoa, Serua. The covers are made from sago palms that are endemic and endangered Fijian palms only found in the province. Picture: ATU RASEA

MOST people have either seen or heard about traditional neatly thatched bure that are often used in villages and hotels around the country.

Have you ever wondered whose handy work it is — those thatched palm leaves neatly stacked together to make a well-structured roof?

Vitalina Tuibau, 58, of Draunikula Village in Galoa, Serua is one of those hardworking women behind the making of those traditional thatched covers for those bure.

The traditional thatching work has been passed down for many generations.

Vitalina, a single mother, is a fighter when it comes to raising her sons.

While carrying out her village responsibilities, she was also persistent in getting her boys through school with the work she did.

“Now my sons are married and they live their own lives, trying to carry out their own responsibilities,” she said.

“The traditional thatched roofing materials are made from leaves called soga (an endemic and endangered Fijian palm) only found in Serua.”

She said most of the thatching for the resort bure in the country were made by the women of Galoa.

“We are so fortunate to have something that made us stand out from other villagers and we make sure that we use these sago leaves wisely,” she said.

“We have been taught ways of using the sago leaves by the NatureFiji-MareqetiViti team and since then we have used it sustainably.

“Now women earn a living from creating thatched roofing cover for well-renowned resorts in the country and at the same time manage our endemic palm tree.”

She said with thatch work she was able to put her sons through school and do what most mothers would, provide a better life for her children.

“We live in one of my brother’s home here in the village. He currently lives in Niue,” she said.

“With the money I earned from the thatching works I was able to do a quick electrification work on our home and other things that needed to be done.”

Vitalina is the president of the Draunikula Village Women Group and with the help of the village women organise projects that often help in village development.

Women of Draunikula Village often earn money from making thatched covers for resorts.

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