Wednesday, 20 February 2008 5:09 PM

Weaving Pride for Polynesian Culture

Weaving is a skill common to the people of Rennell-Bellona Province.

The Polynesians of Solomon Islands are often known for their creative wood art, but little is known on the women's weaving skills.

Speaking with one female basket weaver from Rennell, Ms. Rachel Tepaika said that their popular "kete mangu", the baskets, goes back to the old times when it was only known and used by the people of the two islands.

"It was carrier for anything for our people, but now it's becoming a trend and a favorite among a lot of people as a hand bag," she said.

Ms. Tepaika said the 'kete mangu' comes in different forms, shapes and patterns with different names "in our language" to differentiate the styles.

Over time, the weaving skills of these women has turned to be useful in the modern society, with their baskets up for sale to locals and tourists alike.

"We can make different baskets with different designs on it and the prices depend on what sizes we weave," she told Solomon Times.

Ms. Tepaika said that baskets in the past were sold at a cheaper rate.

"Now it is expensive because of its high demand," she explained.

Ms. Tepaika added that she is very proud of her culture when seeing people carrying the custom basket around.

"When someone takes it overseas, it will also show the Rennell-Bellona culture and we are very proud of that," she said.

Solomon Times was informed that people, at first, did not know where the baskets originated from "but they can now differentiate the 'kete mangu' made by the people Rennell-Bellona".

Ms. Tepaika said the baskets popularity and demand abroad not only identifies the culture of Rennell-Bellona but "it highlights the culture of Solomon Islands as a whole".