Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television

since 1987

Cook Island mamas sew 5000 face masks to help the Pacific community fight against Covid-19

The Vainetini New Zealand Collective are on a mission to make 5000 face masks by the end of next week, as part of a social enterprise partnership with Pasifika Futures. Not only are they using their sewing abilities to help protect Pacific families, but they’re also able to make a small profit from the mask sales.

They make it look easy, but the women have been hard at work.

“All of us here, we have a job to do; some of us are the sewers, some have to trim, and some have to make sure it’s even,” says Vainetini NZ Co-President Tukua Turia.

The women are part of a wider group spread throughout New Zealand sewing in churches, halls, and their homes, making around 300 to 400 masks a day.

“Since the lockdown, we don’t do anything; we just stay home, do the housework… So when the masks [opportunity] came up, we decided we’ll do some to help,” says Vainetini NZ mama Tuira Munukoa.

The Cook Islands Development Agency NZ are providing another space to sew, and they’ve recruited expert designers to show the mamas how to make the masks step by step.

“We modelled ours on the surgical masks, with the added extra of elastics at the side, and it’s reusable rather than disposable, but also it has pleats and the ability to have three layers instead of just one,” says Gary Reay of Dani Fai Reay Designs.

“We have been there for the Mamas to help them, guide them through, so it’s been a bit of a fun time and also being able to create different colours of our Pacific Islands,” says designer Karaati Ngateina Reay.

The project has also given the Vainetini Collective an opportunity to learn about business and generate income.

“Just this morning we were showing them how to do their invoices. Business for ourselves – it’s creating more opportunities for us,” says Karaati.

Watch the full story above.

Reporter: Alistar Kata


You Might Be Interested In