The very diverse island cultural groups that make up the Solomon Islands create different kinds of tapa, for different uses. In the Santa Cruz Islands it was made into men's loincloths and head-dresses.
Tapa cloth was also used for trading between islands until the early 1900s, blue tapa cloth being a particularly valued commodity. The striking blue of the tapa comes from pau (wild indigo), which grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the Pacific. It is found from South America to Hawai'i, and in the Western Pacific region.
This collection narrative is based on the Tapa: Pacific Style exhibition on display at Te Papa, level 4 (September 2009 - September 2010).