The pilot project in Faleapuna to revive the art craft of Fala Masi is working.
So says Petronilla Molio’o Mataeliga from Faleapuna who has been leading the Fala Masi revival project for the last two years.
From that time until today, she says women in rural villages are beginning to see the financial benefits of the once dying art.
At the start, Petronilla noticed that the tradition faded out after her Grandmother, who used to champion the making of the unique mat in Faleapuna where the Fala Masi was commonly created.
The country wide push to revive the fine mats making in Samoa also did not help the decline in the Fala Masi which Petronilla says has many economical as well as aesthetic advantages.
“When you think about the time that goes into making a fine mat, it can be months before you complete one,” she said.
“Then after that the asking price for a fine mat does not reflect the hours, the labour and personal toll on the maker’s body. Whereas the Fala Masi is so versatile, it’s colourful and contemporary and also it takes maybe two days to make a mat.”
Very recently, Petronilla said that she was over the moon when she heard that a women’s committee in Falelatai had picked up the revival project and were following in Faleapuna’s steps.
“We are so happy because before I left for London, Falelatai had already posted up that they are also making the Fala Masi,” she said.
“I was so happy about that. This is the impact that we were asking for, to get other villages to take it up. Fala Masi doesn’t just belong to Faleapuna it belongs to Samoa. At the end of the day, if you make the Ie toga, it doesn’t mean that the Ie toga comes from you – the Ie toga comes from Samoa.”
Petronilla is pleased that the women who participated in the project are now able to become financially independent and no longer need to have a ‘middle man’ once they realized that they were in control.
“I think the project is doing really well; a lot of women have succeeded in being financially independent. In the beginning we were able to financially sustain them for a short period but now they know they can make something themselves and they can get paid for it.”
Earlier in the year, Petronilla and her mother took a collection of Fala Masi made by the women in Faleapuna to the Pacifica Trade Festival in Auckland, which were a hit with the buyers. They also continue to sell the Fala Masi products on Makeki online with Samoans abroad being their main customers.
The recipient of the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders Award intends to continue supporting the revival project and the multi talented 26 year old has another project in the pipeline that is much dearer to her heart.
“I am looking at a way of working on another capacity building project to do with the youth that has to do with my main passion which is Beauty therapy. So I’m looking forward to working on that soon.”