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The puletasi

Talofa lava! Our names are Kayla and Maliana. We are Kiwi-born Samoans at Marcellin College. We are going to tell you about the puletasi, which is the Samoan fashion for women.

This traditional outfit for women is called a 'pea' or 'puletasi'. It is a two-piece costume, and is always decorated with flowers and other beautiful patterns. The puletasi is worn on special occasions, like church services, weddings, funerals and farewells. It originated in Samoa and was probably bought to New Zealand by people coming over to start a new way of life.

The puletasi includes a top and a lavalava. The top is designed in many different ways using any type of material. The lavalava is usually a long length of the same material that is hemmed up. The whole costume is decorated with many different and unique patterns.

  Anastasia in her Puletasi
  Maliana's little cousin
  Anastasia in her Puletasi

Patterns
The idea for the patterns usually comes from other puletasi patterns, but it can also be an original design. Today the material is usually bought, and it is taken to someone to sew up, or it is created and designed by the people themselves.The patterns on the puletasi are usually flowers but patterns of other objects can also be used. Some patterns represent something special to the wearer or their family.

There are various ways of creating the patterns on the puletasi. Usually the pattern is already on the material. Another way of creating the patterns is by making the puletasi with plain material. Then they get a stencil of the pattern, and use a sponge or spray-paint to go over the stencil to make the pattern on the plain material.

There are also several materials used for making the puletasi. Cotton is used the most because it is cheap and easy to get. But other fabrics such as silk and tapa are also used.

Samoan symbol
Many new ideas have come through for the puletasi, but the most unusual one we have seen recently was for a wedding dress that had tapa cloth woven into it. It was a beautiful idea and really symbolized the Samoan culture.

Many of these ideas are really wonderful and make the Samoan culture stand out, but if we really want to keep this tradition going, we have to keep passing it down the generations.