Tane’s amazing collection – A mixture of Kiribati and Tuvalu

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Toka Tane sells her handicraft at the RoC Market in Suva. Picture: JONA KONATACI

As you stroll through the Suva Curio and Handicraft Centre in Suva you cannot miss the intricately woven products by Toka Tane on display.

Ms Tane who had Kiribati and Tuvalu backgrounds was born in Kiribati but moved to Fiji with her parents as a one-year-old.

Her father was a doctor assigned to Ono-i-Lau and many little islands in the Lau group.

“You can say that I grew up learning and adopting the Fijian culture, food, language and way of life,” she said.

“My father was assigned to Nanukuloa, Ra and then to Nasau Village, Koro after his time in Lau.”

Ms Tane who is the weaver, designer and artist behind the business name, Te Raraga, shared how her rich and unique cultural background has inspired her craftwork.

“My craftwork has a touch of Kiribati, Tuvaluan and Fijian cultures.

“I also find inspiration from the wonderful rich colours of our natural environment and the different people I’ve met along throughout my journey of crafting custom-made items.”

Every third Sunday of the month you can find her at the RoC Market.

“I’ve been selling at the RoC Market for the past 20 years and I absolutely love it. I meet people from different cultures and backgrounds and they may not know this but their stories also inspire my craftwork.

“The RoC Market has allowed me to showcase the work that I do and it is a platform which rakes in a lot of income for me.”

For those who are still trying to figure out what Te Raraga means – it is a mixture of the Kiribati word ‘raranga’ and the Tuvaluan word ‘lalaga’ which both refer to the ‘art of weaving’.

“Both words are used in other Pacific Island languages pertaining to the same meaning, the art of weaving has evolved in the Pacific over the years and changing from island to island they each have a unique story of the own.

“Our designs and way of weaving here at Te Raraga showcase that diversity in the Pacific rather than just one particular island nation or culture.”

Her products range from hanging mirrors, trays, pot plant holders, laundry baskets, jewelry boxes, earrings and many more.

“The timeframe for creating each product depends on the size, so if I am working on a big laundry basket it takes me two weeks to complete and that would cost around $300.”

She added that Te Raraga’s logo was inspired by the shape of their signature craft which is the mother of pearl shell fan with vau fringes along with matching earrings which she had designed and created back in 2012.

If you’re ever in town be sure to pay her a visit at stall 59 Suva Curio and Handicraft Centre.

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