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Traditional Use of Coconuts

Learn More About the Traditional Use of Coconuts in Banaban Society

Through out the Pacific Islands every part of the coconut is used for daily life.  The coconut leaf is used for roofing and side screens on traditional housing and woven coconut leaves are used to carry or serve food.  The timber is used for housing and canoe building. While the coconut shells have been used for centuries to carry water or store coconut oil.

The Banabans also gather the sap from the new fonts at the top of the tree. This is a traditional skill known as 'koro karewa'  (or gathering coconut toddy) which has been passed down to the men over the centuries. This sweet sap takes about 2-3 days to be extracted and if boiled will turn into a lovely thick golden sweet syrup similar to maple syrup.

This syrup is called 'ka maimai'  and is used as a natural sweetener or mixed with water to make a lovely sweet drink. While we in the western world have developed a taste for  sugary sweet soft drinks, in the island’s 'Kaimaimao' is nature’s own soft drink.

If the fresh sap from the spats is not boiled within 24 hours the liquid will quickly ferment into what is referred to as ‘coconut toddy’ which is the island's local alcoholic beverage like beer.

 While many of us here in the western world have just discovered how good the coconut is for our health, the islanders have relied on the coconuts for many of their traditional medicines. Did you know that  coconut water or juice is the only natural product that can be substituted for human blood plasma. It is also recommended by western health professionals as the safest and best sterile liquid to wash and treat wounds. What other plant can provide us with so much!

There are so many uses and benefits from the coconut and that is why the coconut truly is entitled to be called, 'the Tree of Life'.

 

  • Coconuts have been part of daily survival for Banabans through out the centuries.
  • Ka maimai - coconut syrup has been part of traditional Banaban diet for centuries as a natural healthy sweetener.
  • The traditional skill known as koro karewa or gathering coconut toddy has been passed down to the men over the centuries.