11-year-old scoops award for weaving

A 11-year-old girl from Nofoalii scooped the youngest weaver award during the annual Samoan fine mats and siapo showcase in Apia Thursday.

Sharon Toetu is the second child of Toetu and Rosa Toetu. In just nine months, she weaved a complete Samoan fine mat.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Ms. Toetu said she started practicing how to weave at the age of five by watching others, especially her family members, in the art of weaving fine mats.    

“At a very young age I used to watch my grandmother weave but as I grew older I became passionate about weaving the Samoan fine mat. I considered it a great challenge I had to overcome and it was not easy to learn and produce my first Samoan fine mat, which I began weaving in August last year and thankfully completed in April this year.

“I would come home from school around three or four and then if I did not have any homework I would start weaving from 4-7pm because we had to do evening prayer around seven. 

“Despite the challenges like attending school and also allocating time to weave, I give back the glory to God for guiding me in my journey but of course I also had help from my family like my mother and grandmother, Telesia Televave,” she said.

Ms. Toetu, who is currently attending Year 7 at Nofoalii Primary School, added she sees a great future in weaving Samoan fine mats.

Grandmother Mrs. Televave said she challenged her three daughters to learn the skill of weaving a Samoan fine mat, but was shocked to know that her young granddaughter learned fast.

“I wanted to uphold the traditional skill set of weaving a Samoan fine mat in my family, which was slowly dying in Samoa but to my amazement my young granddaughter managed to learn the skills at a very young age. 

“I am very proud of her accomplishment, she gives me great joy but we must always give back the glory to God for everything, it is because the talent was from God especially the knowledge to do anything,” she added.

Mother, Mrs. Toetu was shocked when her daughter received the award.

“I admire her determination to pursue very hard skills of weaving a Samoan fine mat.

“I believe that the skills of weaving can provide an economic benefit to Samoan families because they have great value both culturally and in terms of generating money. 

“The average cost of a fine mat $3,500 and that can assist our families. I am very proud of my Samoan culture, which has enabled me to uphold this skill and if I don’t succeed in school I have this gift of weaving to help provide a living for my family,” she added. 

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