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Tahitian girls in their unadorned "grandmother's dresses" between 1880 and 1889.
A Mother Hubbard dress is a long, wide, loose-fitting gown with long sleeves and a high neck. Intended to cover as much skin as possible, it was introduced by missionaries in Polynesia to "civilise" those whom they considered half-naked savages of the South Seas islands.

Although this Victorian remnant has disappeared elsewhere in the world, it is still worn by Pacific women, who have altered it into a gayer and lighter (less hot) garment, using cotton sheets, often printed in brightly coloured floral patterns.

In Hawai imarker, it is called holokū. There, a derivative, the mu umu u, is highly similar, but without the yoke and train, and therefore even easier to make.

In Tahitimarker, the name was ahu tua (empire dress); now, ahu māmā rū au (grandmother's dress) is used.

In New Caledoniamarker, these dresses are referred to as (robes missions)(Mission Dresses). New Caledonian women wear these dresses when playing their distinctive style of cricket.

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