Unique handicrafts from Micronesia at Pasifika

Aucklanders will be in for a treat with the unique handicrafts from the Marshall Islands showcasing at Pasifika Festival 2017.

Elefa’s handicraft range from the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Although shop owner Lucia Guavis of the Elefa Handicraft Shop, in Majuro, Marshall Islands, cannot be part of the Pacific Islands Trade & Invest New Zealand Pacific Path 2 Market delegation due to unforeseen circumstance, the handicrafts will still be here under the Republic of Marshall Islands, Office of Investment and Commerce who are the local Economic Development Agency partnering with PT&I.

28 exhibitors from 8 Pacific Island Forum countries will attend the Pasifika Festival with representatives from the trade officials from the respective countries.

The PT&I’s Pacific Path 2 Market programme has been run in the Pacific for several years and is aimed at helping Pacific Island businesses export to New Zealand and create jobs for the local communities back home.  In 2016, PT&I New Zealand conducted 10 Path 2 Market workshops in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon, Palau, FSM, Pohnpei and the Republic of Marshall Islands.

Elefa Handicrafts is a family owned business that sources its products from a selected group of weavers who take the natural materials from the 24-low lying coral atolls making up 1,156 individual islands and inlets. The designs and patterns of the Marshall Islands are unique and renown internationally for the intricacy and fine style.  The weavers use coconut fronds, pandanus tree and cowrie shells.  A single piece of handicraft can take many days or weeks to produce from the preparation of the leaves through to weaving the completed products.

Handicrafts is an important source of income for women in Marshall Islands where around 70% of women are not in paid employment and most the adult population struggling to keep up with the demands of modern environment.

Mrs Guavis had visited New Zealand several years ago, as part of a small delegation to Pasifika festival to scope opportunities for business.  But the New Zealand market is a very long distance from Marshall Islands and associated costs of freight made exporting here difficult.  However, Mrs Guavis found an advocate for Marshall Islands handicrafts in New Zealand and international interest.

The two PT&I Pacific Path to Market Northern Pacific workshops played to an enthusiastic audience of about 30 small business entrepreneurs whose companies are potentially ready for export.  The workshops were specifically targeted to new and established exporters to give them insights into exporting to international markets such as New Zealand.  The workshop included pricing, marketing and attracting investment into the country amongst others.  A practical technique taught in the workshops is how to make a business ‘pitch’ to someone who knows nothing about the business in the time it takes for an elevator to move between floors.

Although Mrs Guavis could not attend the Pasifika Festival in Auckland, RMI handicrafts will generate much interest amongst an audience with an eye for authentic Pacific made products.

For more information please contact PT&I NZ Trade Development Manager Joe Fuavao at joe.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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