Marlborough Rural Women recently accepted a gift of a large tapa cloth made by women in Tonga.
Rural Women Marlborough provincial branch international officer Melva Robb explains: Each year the Rural Women group focused on a different country, and last year the theme was Tonga. The group invited Theresa Veikoso to speak to the group about her Tongan 6culture.
Melva Robb says that after Mrs Veikoso spoke to them the Marlborough women were inspired to help the Tongan community in some way. Mrs Veikoso suggested money they raised could go to a group making traditional tapa cloth, led by her aunt. The money was used to buy backing fabric used to make up to 50 metre-long tapa cloth, Mrs Veikoso said.
To mark their thanks for the gift of money, the Tongan women made the Rural Women Marlborough provincial branch a tapa which covered the top table at the group’s annual general meeting in Blenheim.
Mrs Veikoso said the Tongan women saw the gift as a blessing and were amazed that rural women in Marlborough would help in this way.
Tongan women make tapa cloth and mats from the inner bark of specially planted trees. The bark is soaked in water overnight, then placed flat and beaten to make tapa pieces, later joined to make large mats.
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