Samoan films screened in Hawai‘i
Coconut sennit, a strong and versatile cord known in the Samoan language as ‘afa, is braided from the husk fibers of what may be the longest coconut on earth.
“A tree well worth protecting,” said Samoan filmmaker Galumalemana Steven Percival. Speaking at a Pacific Film Series event held at the end of August and organized by the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai’i, Galumalemana explained how efforts are being made in Sāmoato maintain the niu‘afa, the particular variety of elongated coconut, in its true-to-type form.
“The fiber and coir that can be extracted from the coconut husk is a multi-million dollar global industry,” he said.
In Samoa, the pith is not used at all and the fiber’s only use is for the making of cordage for lashing purposes, “everything from tools to houses to ocean voyaging canoes,” he explained. One interesting fact is that the coconut husk fiber may also be one of the only plant-based fibers that is saltwater resistant.