Tapa cloth is made from the pounded inner bark of various trees, such as the paper mulberry and breadfruit. Each island group has its own uses for tapa, applying unique patterns to represent distinctive concepts. However, the process for making tapa is common to all.
See photographs of Toto'a Fagai, from Vaito'omuli village, making Samoan siapo.
Learn how siapo is made
Watch Feletoa Fa'apoi and members of the Tongan Otaota Fahina Society, based in Auckland, making tapa from imported products.
Watch the video
View an interview with Lolohea Tupouniua who helped to set up the Tongan Otaota Fahina Society.
Watch the video interview
Tapa has been reshaped in recent times. Watch Tales from Te Papa Episode 38, which is about a unique tapa wedding dress.
Watch Tales from Te Papa
For explanations of terms related to tapa, visit our comprehensive online glossary.
See the Glossary of Terms