Mats

Woven matting traditionally provided the sails for sea-going canoes and material for the construction of huts. Materials used for mat weaving varied; they were influenced by what was on offer locally or could be bought or traded.

Mats and baskets were in steady demand, so it was essential to prepare material well ahead of the weaving process. Banana fibre and pandanus (Pandanus spiralis) leaves, where available, were used, hibiscus bark made a sturdy weaving material, as did several varieties of rush and fern. Preparation would include harvesting the leaves or bark at the appropriate time of the year and at the right stage of plant growth.

For example, the youngest leaves of the pandanus tree were collected using a long hooked stick, the prickly edges stripped off, the long leaves then stripped into fibres and hung up to dry.

Mats are still used for sleeping, to cover the ground as a welcome, and to make people feel comfortable when gathered for family events or community occasions.

Two weavers