Behold the Coconut! Niuean language week 2013

Behold the Coconut! Niuean language week 2013

This week is Niue language week. The theme for this year’s celebration is: Leveki mo e Fakaaoga e Vagahau Niue: Treasure and Use the Niue language. Pacific Cultures curators have been posting blogs related to Niue throughout the week and highlighting treasures from Te Papa’s collections. Today’s blogpost is by Rachel Yates who takes a closer look at coconuts…

As Te Papa’s first blog for this week informed you,  the word “Niue” can be broken down to Niu (coconut) and e (here) combining to mean ‘behold the coconut’.  This blog will share some of the awesome things that can be created from the coconut tree, also known as the tree of life, and highlight how rich this resource is for Niueans and the wider Pacific.  This first group of pictures all feature items in Te Papa’s Pacific Collection and are all made in Niue.

 The commencement of a table mat (pandanus woven in concentric circles over the durable coconut midrib)

Kato (basket made of coconut leaf and pandanus leaf; there are several examples of baskets and bags that use these materials and they vary in use from decorative, storing food or even to make a coconut water bottle)

 Iliili (fan made from coconut midrib, pandanus and wood for the handle)

Sennit (coir made from coconut fibre; a very durable material and used in the lashings of canoes, for adzes or more recently, carpets and door mats)

 Here are some further examples of products also made from the coconut tree. I have only selected a few of the many currently on the market.  If you would like further information about products or initiatives in the Pacific region you can visit the Asian Pacific Coconut Community website ( which is an intergovernmental organisation initially set up in 1969 by the United Nations. The 18 member countries account for over 90% of world coconut production and exports and nine of these nations are Pacific countries.  

Coconut oil: a hugely versatile product with great benefits that can be used on the skin, hair, in cooking, often associated with healing and also as a bio- fuel. The second picture shows virgin coconut oil being used in a 50/50 diesel/VCO tractor in the Solomon Islands.  The potential of this fuel has obvious environment benefits for many Pacific communities.

Coconut timber can be used as construction wood or for furniture such as this pictured. The resource comes from plantation crops and offers a vast, alternative supply of timber.

This blog could go on and on about numerous products, initiatives and debates around the uses and potential of the coconut tree.  Instead of doing that, I will leave you with a infographic I discovered online that does an excellent job of highlighting the uses of the coconut tree around the world. Behold the coconut!


  1. This is very intresting and happy niuen Language week!

  2. I like blog it gives me a lot of stuff to think about.

    1. Yes they are!

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