Between the islands of Fiji, our ancestors would trade goods for which they were famed. The people of Tonga would also trade colourful feathers of the kula bird (Collared Lory – Phigys solitaries) masi (printed bark cloth) and weapons with the eastern Fiji islands. Eventually, European traders began to barter metal tools, tobacco, cloth, muskets and gunpowder for sandalwood, and sea cucumbers. Trading today is still popular and is something you might like to try instead of reverting to cash…
For people living in the outer islands, this may even be preferable with access to certain staples being limited. Items such as rice, flour, sugar, tea (thanks to the Brits!), breakfast crackers, batteries, fishing line, bars of washing soap, school supplies, and milk powder can be traded for fresh fish, local fruit, vegetables and even handicrafts.
Moce and Fulaga are still famous for crafting magimagi, which is a strong braided rope of coconut husk fiber. Kabara for hand carved Vesi wood Tanoa and model canoes, Ono-i-Lau for woven mats and sandalwood, then throughout the Yasawa and Mamanucas, virgin coconut oil infused with fragrant tropical flowers is abundant. If you have Kava from Kadavu, you will be a hero among men!
The clever folk at sailingforsustainability.org noticed that for women living on the outer islands of Fiji, a bra is often an unobtainable or unaffordable luxury. In 2012, they coordinated the delivery of 3,000 bras that were donated by the NZ Girl Guides to the Fiji Girl Guides and Fiji Cancer Society. With this in mind, bras can also provide a great item for trade among women.
The organization would love to hear from you if you are sailing to Fiji from New Zealand as you may be able to help transport more donated bras. Another charity focused on getting bras, including mastectomy bras and breast forms (prostheses) to women throughout the Pacific is ￼￼￼￼upliftbras.org