NAIDOC Week celebrated at Tea Gardens Public School

Pete and Johnny make ‘Johnny cakes’ with MidCoast Mayor Claire Pontin.

‘FOR Our Elders’ was the theme of the inaugural NAIDOC Week event at Tea Gardens Public School on Tuesday, 11 July.

A sunny winter’s day brought many community members to the school campus for an event organised by local Worimi Elder Auntie (Dr) Liz McEntyre, and funded by a MidCoast Council grant.

Council was represented by MCC Mayor Claire Pontin.

Justin Ridgeway from Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) performed the Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, and Auntie Liz spoke of ongoing cultural ties to the lands, waters and skies, and of honouring the ancestors.

“For Our Elders pays tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders’ invaluable knowledge, wisdom and shared history,” Auntie Liz told the gathering.

“This NAIDOC, we salute our elders throughout the thousands of generations, and the continuation of their cultural, spiritual, and educational roles in our community . . . such as the handing down of language, practices, songs and stories to keep culture alive as well,” she said.

Murook and the Worimi LALC people led various cultural activities, including weaving, beading, boomerang painting, face-painting, and ‘Johnny-cake’ (damper) making workshops.

Kaiyu from Murook, led the ever-popular boomerang-throwing lessons on the sports field, where kids could learn about the various ways boomerangs were employed in hunting.

The Tea Gardens Lions Club donated barbecue services, while Myall River Art Walk Groups’ Jeanette Hart led the creation of the ‘Mullet Run’ mural, a new work of immense cultural significance, which will feature prominently near the beach soon.

All food on the day was free to visitors and sourced locally, with a special celebration cake made by Myall River Bakery.

Auntie Liz also reminded all present it was a special day because the community itself had come together just for them.

“Celebrating the very first NAIDOC Week gathering for Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest shows us that when we stand together, we are Dhun-barn, strong,” she said.

Having filled many a ‘cultural cup’ this year’s success ensured plans will be laid for next year.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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