Karenni community of Coffs Harbour celebrate their 149th National Day

Almost the entire Karenni community of Coffs Harbour came together to celebrate their National Day together.

ALMOST the entire Karenni community of Coffs Harbour came together at the Jetty Foreshores in celebration of their National Day on Saturday 15 June.

This year marks the 149th anniversary of Karenni National Day, typically observed annually on June 21, commemorating the date in 1875 when the British government recognised the Karenni state as a sovereign entity.

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The annual day now celebrates the Karenni people’s ongoing cultural heritage, resilience, and unity.

Locally Karennis gathered in numbers at the Foreshores, handing out pamphlets explaining Karenni history and the significance of the National Day.

Both the Karenni and Australian national anthems were sung, while speeches were performed under both flags too.

National costume was worn, traditional dances were performed, and music was played on traditional Karenni instruments.

A delicious array of traditional Karenni food was also on offer.

Ayemin Kawkuhtoo, a former refugee and recent winner of the 2024 Regional Unity Medal, serves as a spokesperson for the local Karenni community.

Ayemin also volunteers as an interpreter.

Addressing the gathering on National Day, Ayemin outlined a clear agenda for the event, which included a talk by Karenni community member Jimmy Thomas.

Jimmy, who has worked at Toyota in Coffs Harbour for eight years, spoke of the importance of keeping the Karenni culture alive whilst adapting to Australian culture.

Robin Ashley, a social worker who regularly works with the Karenni community, also updated attendees about an attempt to install poles in an appropriately central location to enable the annual celebration of the Karenni ‘Kay Htoe Boe’ festival.

All attendees agreed that the annual celebration of the Kay Htoe Boe festival would bring great joy to the Karenni community, who would embrace the opportunity to enlighten the Coffs Harbour community about their cultural heritage.

“There was a great sense of pride during the [National] day, and the local Coffs Harbour attendees all agreed that Coffs Harbour is a much richer place because of the local Karenni community,” Robin told News Of The Area.


Celebrations for the 149th anniversary of the Karenni National Day brought the local community together.

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