The Pandanus Project
In the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia, namely on the island of Maré, Elisabeth and André Wiako wish to revive the ancestral traditions. The Kanak couple, both members of the Keawatine tribe in the north west of the island, decided do start growing 40 Pandanus plants.
What is pandanus used for ?
The pandanus mat is a strong symbol in Kanak culture :
- One welcomes a distinguished guest on a pandanus mat and offering a mat establishes and strengthens the bond of solidarity. The offering of a mat is also a gesture of reconciliation
- Pandanus crafts, hats, bags and all kinds of basketry are sold in Noumea.
- Traditional hut roofs are covered with coconut leaves or pandanus and traditional sails are woven from pandanus fibres.
- It is also used in food and traditional medicine.
- Pandanus is also environmentally beneficial to these islands, helping to support and hold in place coastal soils subjected to cyclones, as well as softening the harsh ocean winds.
After being dried, the leaves are woven. Traditional basketry has thus regained its place in customary practices.