Story: Tongans

Tapa cloth made in New Zealand

Tapa cloth made in New Zealand

Although some Tongans no longer speak the language, most continue to have a strong sense of identity and they have learnt to adapt Tongan traditions to the New Zealand setting. For example in 1996, 14 Tongans, who called themselves ‘Ilo Me‘a Fo‘ou’ (New Creations), made this tapa cloth in Upper Hutt. In the absence of the paper mulberry bark which is used in Tonga, they used synthetic felted material purchased from a fabric shop and pasted together.

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: I.006634

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Melenaite Taumoefolau, 'Tongans - Pacific Islands identity', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/object/1264/tapa-cloth-made-in-new-zealand (accessed 6 August 2020)

Story by Melenaite Taumoefolau, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 25 Mar 2015