Economic Empowerment, Cultural Preservation and Sustainable Livelihoods Program from the Kingdom of Tonga. True Tonga Inc. is a new social enterprise created in 2015 by Tongans serious about sustainability. It continued works on the heels of successful milestones achieved by a pilot program funded by New Zealand with the goal, “To enhance sustainable livelihood opportunities for producers of handicrafts and cultural tourism in Tonga.”
True Tonga recognises the importance of sustaining the successes and growing on the lessons learnt. After the 3 year pilot programme, there was widespread belief that activities should continue and a few bravely set up True Tonga Inc. It was formed “For Economic Empowerment, Cultural Preservation and Sustainable Livelihoods,” representing artisans who are serious about their work. Objectives include promotion and sale of handicraft goods made by women using local resources, preservation of culture and innovation with emphasis on quality and authenticity.
Tonga's culture is rich with tradition. It is very much alive and sustained through demand from the diaspora as well as the domestic cultural events that require the presentation of Tongan heritage items. Tonga boasts of the Pacific’s most prized tapa (ngatu) and has beautiful mats from which the smaller items are produced from.
The Tonga tupenu (skirt) and ta'ovala (mat worn around the waist) are works of art and distinctive to Tongan society, as are the giant woven bark cloths made by Tongan women (ngatu). Skilled handicrafts also include woven mats and flax baskets and jewellery made from seeds, pandanus, coral, shells and flowers.
Some of these products are available here on PacificArtisan.com. More are coming.