How to make a tahitian head dress

Tahitian head dresses are known for gracing the heads of Polynesian and hula dancers. The head dresses vary in style and size, but most are made of natural, decorative materials. Creating these tall Tahitian head dresses at home can be intimidating, but building the head piece layer by layer makes the process much less daunting. The head dresses are normally made of native island supplies like the leaves of hala trees, coconut fibres or ti leaves, and these materials can be ordered online or often through a florist. Craft store finds like rafia and silk leaf greenery can easily be substituted for this haku braid Tahitian head dress.

The amount of rafia you use will determine the thickness of the decorative Haku braid. Pull a handful of rafia away from the bundle; 18 pieces, or 6 for each braiding section, is a good start. Lining the selected rafia up into an even-ended bundle, knot one of the bundle ends about an inch from the edge.

Using your fingers, braid the rafia to the point where you want the ti leaves to begin. Separate the braid sections by laying the leftmost rafia section away from the centre to the left, and the other two rafia sections away to the right.

Stack three ti leaves and place the leaves on top of the rafia braid. The centre of the ti leaves should be directly on top of the separated braid sections.

Grabbing your braided sections, cross the bottom right section over the ti leaves, then cross the leftmost section over the ti leaves towards the right. Pull tight, creating one braid pleat.

Fold the bottom half of the ti leaves up to match the top half. Lay another stack of three ti leaves on the folded stack. Create another braid pleat, then continue the folding, stacking and braiding process for as many leaves as you'd like added.

Finish the haku braid by braiding the bottom of the rafia bundle to match the length of the top end.

Wrap the canvas ribbon around your head to measure for headband length. Add 2 inches to the length to allow for hook and loop fastener overlap.

Cut 2 inches of each hook and loop fastener side for the headband. Using the hot glue gun, apply glue to the bottom of each hook and loop fastener piece. Place one piece on the inside of the canvas ribbon end, and the other on the outside of the opposite end, so the two match up when wrapped around the head. Let dry completely.

Use the hot glue gun to apply adhesive to the outside bottom of the canvas headband. Place the rafia and ti leaf haku braid along the glue line, centring the ti leaf section at the front of the head piece. Let dry completely.


Feathers, dried and silk leaves can all be substituted for the ti leaves to create different looks for your head dress. Shells and silk flowers can also be added with hot glue to the head dress to add more details and decorative elements.

Things You'll Need

  • Rafia
  • Ti leaves or silk substitute
  • 2-inch-wide canvas ribbon
  • Hook and loop fastener
  • Hot glue
  • Glue gun
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About the Author

Styling since 2004 and obsessed with all things fashion for as long as she can remember, Melissa has extensive designer, trend, and DIY knowledge. Writing professionally since 2008, Melissa has married her retail and communication backgrounds to establish a career in fashion copywriting, marketing, and blogging.