Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The economy emphasizes subsistence agriculture and fishing. Major crops include manioc, Colocasia and Cyrtosperma taro, coconuts, papayas, bananas, and tobacco. Less important foodstuffs include sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, watermelons, and a host of minor crops. Tools include digging sticks, poles for harvesting fruits and nuts, and (in postcontact times) steel bush knives. Anuta's intensive agricultural system involves crop rotation, terracing, weeding, and mulching. Fishing is done on the fringing reef, with nets and spears, and on the open sea, mostly with hook and line. Ocean fishing is usually done from a canoe. Techniques include bottom fishing over an inshore reef, trolling, and night fishing for flying fish with a light and long-handled net. Shellfish are sometimes collected and birds hunted. Chickens are raised and occasionally eaten.
Industrial Arts. Anuta has no full-time specialists. However, some specially skilled people devote inordinate amounts of time to canoe building, house construction, carving bowls, bailers, and paddles, and plaiting mats and baskets.
Trade. As of the early 1970s, there was no trade store on the island. Therefore, trade was confined to passing ships or was conducted by relatives visiting other islands—especially Guadalcanal, site of the Solomon Islands' capital. In addition, regular exchange with Tikopia—the nearest populated island—has occurred for many generations.
Division of Labor. Men do most of the fishing, including all fishing on the open sea. Both men and women garden and cook food, with women putting somewhat more time than men into these activities. Carpentry is performed by men. Mat making is almost entirely a female occupation.
Land Tenure. Land is owned and worked collectively by the elementary domestic unit, known as the patongia. This consists ideally of a group of brothers, their wives and Children, their sons' wives and children, and assorted adoptees. If members of a domestic unit cannot get along, they divide their land and become separate units. Most crops are under the jurisdiction of the domestic unit on whose land they are growing. A few, like coconuts and papayas, however, are regarded as collective property of the community regardless of where they are found. In addition, chiefs may overrule Domestic units' decisions regarding what, when, where, and how to plant, cultivate, and harvest.