Vatoa men master the art of weaving

Reapi Tawatatau 73, weaves a mat at her home in Vatoa village in Lau. Picture: MELA KATONIVUALIKU

MAT weaving is always considered a woman’s job but for villagers in Vatoa in Lau, the men are becoming master weavers.

Village headman Jone Wesele Talainilotu said during these hard and trying times, they have had to look for other means of generating income to survive.

“Mat weaving is no more a woman’s job. We are helping our wives gather the pandanus leaves (kie or voivoi), dry it and prepare it for weaving. Some of us men have learnt how to weave and have mastered the art of weaving,” Mr Talainilotu said.

“In the past and even today you would not hear of men weaving mats, but here in Vatoa Village, we are weaving mats and it has come to this just because we need money to survive.”

Mr Talainilotu said mats were taken to Suva to be sold or if customers placed an order then it was much better as they know the money was ready.

“At times we weave mats in exchange for groceries. “This is called ‘veisa’ where customers buy groceries worth the price of mats and once the mats are ready, they send the groceries by boat and we send over the mats.”

Mr Talainilotu said weaving mats was a great source of income and time consuming as well.

“At least it is one of the ways to supplement our income that we earn from copra and fishing.”

With their copra being sold to Punjas at a price of 38 cents a kilogram and seasonal fishing bans affecting their catch, Mr Talainilotu said they had to resort to other income generating activities.

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