PLP supports True Tonga Inc on changing policies on handicraft that will protect the livelihoods of local artisans.

June 8 2017- Nuku’alofa, Tonga- True Tonga Inc. (TTInc.) welcomed HRH Crown Princess Sinaitakala Tuku’aho as well as the Honourable Prime Minister and distinguished guests to an event to mark a meeting and display of authentic Tongan handicrafts and art at the Tanoa International Dateline Hotel on Thursday 8 June.

“Handicrafts may not be glitzy but it is a true livelihood that supports thousands of our people at the level where development should reach and it promotes our culture, uses local materials and pays bills. Today, we gather to share stories so that some of our leaders can hear of the journeys of those in this sector whose livelihood depend on it and the challenges,” said Monalisa Palu of True Tonga Inc.

The event featured a competition promoting authentic products and is in line with True Tonga Inc.’s work supported by Pacific Leadership Program on a policy to promote Tongan products as consultations had identified the threat of foreign materials replacing Tongan handicrafts incurring losses for artisans.

“It is a real threat because people are increasingly using foreign items for traditional functions and having the choice is fine but at the same time, it is at the cost of someone’s livelihood and is not original and authentic,” said TTInc. member Eleva Mo’unga.

Representatives from TTInc. spoke of the economic value of handicrafts to their families and thanked MCCTIL for their assistance especially A/CEO Anisi Bloomfield who pledged commitment to helping the efforts of this often unrecognized sector.

“We are happy to hear of this encouragement from our nation’s leaders because for so long, handicrafts has always existed and we work whether there is help or not as this is our livelihood and we contribute to the economy, “ said Tangiloto Po’oi, a leading artist whose mother taught her the skills which she has passed on to her daughter Kalisi.

Three elderly women over the aged of 80 were honoured at the event and competition winners announced with first place won by Loleto Lelenoa; first runner up Ana Matoto and second runner up being Caritas Ma’ufanga.

“It was a great way to network and encourage one another and also promote our work and earn some money,” said Vao Langi from Nukunuku.

True Tonga Inc. is an NGO committed to economic empowerment, cultural preservation and sustainable livelihoods and will be opening an outlet within the week.

Press Release from True Tonga Inc (TTI)- supported by the Pacific Leadership Program through its Tonga Country Program.
TTI is a newly formed nonprofit organsation. It advocates for the inclusion of handicrafts in the Tongan Government’s “Buy Tonga Made” campaign. With PLP’s support TTI is working with Government and the Tonga Handicrafts Association to develop guidelines and quality standards for “Buy Tonga Made” certified handicrafts. This will protect the livelihood of Tongan artisans.

For more information contact PLP Country Representative- Lilieta Takau on email lilieta.takau@plp.org.fj