State funeral for Bonita Mabo

LOGAN City Council have remembered the late Dr Bonita Mabo AO as the matriarch of reconciliation and native title.

Councillors sent condolences to her sister, who lives in Woodridge, and her eldest granddaughter Bonita Mabo, who lives at Loganlea.

Cr Russell Lutton asked for condolences to be sent to family.

Dr Mabo’s eldest granddaughter Boneta-Marie Mabo penned a moving tribute to her grandmother read at the full council meeting by Cr Russell Lutton.

“My grandmother will be remembered as a matriarch of reconciliation and native title, working alongside her husband, Edward Koiki Mabo, for the recognition of Indigenous land rights in Australia,” Ms Mabo said.

“My grandmother was an Aboriginal of the Munbarra tribe and South Sea Islander descendant from Tanna Island.

“She was aged 75 and died peacefully in Brisbane with her family by her side.” 

Dr Mabo will be remembered in a State funeral in Townsville tomorrow.

Logan has one of the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations of any city in Australia.

Dr Mabo’s sister xxxx, of Woodridge, will travel to the funeral. Logan elder Barry Watson and his wife will also also attend.

Mr Watson remembered Dr Mabo  gathering of school children at Logan school children in a moment’s silence to remember Dr Mabo at Logan Central Library last week.

Mr Watson, who visits Logan schools to teach indigenous culture, had no doubt Dr Mabo and her husband would be remembered for their work 

“It taught to these kids, whatever their colour or creed, in schools,” he said.

On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia recognised that a group of Torres Strait Islanders, led by Eddie Mabo, held ownership of Mer, also known as Murray Island.

In acknowledging the traditional rights of the Meriam people to the land, the court also held that native title existed for all Indigenous people and paved the way for future indigenous land rights claims.

It’s the same wish she’d make upon the stars of the Beizam (Shark) constellation in the night sky.

Gentle, frail, softly-spoken, Dr Mabo – matriarch, activist, trailblazer – wasn’t one to beat her own drum.

“Mabo Day,” she’d say.

“It should be for everyone. I could go to my grave happy to know that it is a day for all Australians.”

It was her late husband Eddie Koiki Mabo’s dying wish too. “Eddie said on his death bed he would like a national holiday for all Australians,” Bonita told The Courier-Mail in 2012 during an interview marking the 20th anniversary of the High Court Mabo decision.

“And so I thought we should do away with the Queen’s Birthday holiday – it’s not even held on her birthday – and replace it with Mabo Day.”

Bonita Mabo in 2012, for the 20th anniversary of the Mabo case.

It is almost impossible to think that June 3 – the date of the Mabo judgment – could one day become a national public holiday.

Few can forget our collective racist shame when vandals desecrated Eddie’s grave in Townsville with Nazi swastikas and racial slurs.

Mabo’s body was moved to Murray (Mer) Island, and buried in a traditional ceremony reserved for Meriam Kings, which had not been performed for over 80 years.

E ddie Koiki Mabo was a song man. His guiding light lives on in the stars known by white man as the Great Bear or the Big Dipper.

His clan was Beizam, named after that shark constellation, seen in skies above his coral-atoll island home, on the edge of the continental shelf off the tip of Cape York.

Mer is a stunning volcanic peak island – red soil, white beaches, waters teeming with fish, jutting into the Coral Sea. It is most eastwards in the string of islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

His song, or the story of Malo, tells how stars follow their own paths across the sky.

It’s a timeless tale told from father to child. It is one of birthright and destiny.

Mabo is today a name that echoes throughout Australia and beyond.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk extended her condolences to Dr Mabo’s family, friends and the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

REMEMBERED: Cr Jon Raven, Boneta-Marie Mabo, acting mayor Cherie Dalley and Cr Russell Lutton mark Reconciliation Day in June, 2018. Photo: Lisa Simmons

REMEMBERED: Cr Jon Raven, Boneta-Marie Mabo, acting mayor Cherie Dalley and Cr Russell Lutton mark Reconciliation Day in June, 2018. Photo: Lisa Simmons

“It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Bonita Mabo – a proud Malanbarra woman and a tireless advocate for Indigenous education and land rights. One of the most prominent Indigenous women in Australian history, Dr Mabo empowered countless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to speak from the heart and stand up for what they believe in.”  Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk 

Boneta-Marie Mabo and her daughter Poipi photographed in June at Logan Brothers Football Club. Photo: Lisa Simmons

Boneta-Marie Mabo and her daughter Poipi photographed in June at Logan Brothers Football Club. Photo: Lisa Simmons

“Dr Mabo was passionate about education and decades before the landmark native title fight which made her a household name, she established Australia’s first Aboriginal community school in Townsville,” Ms Trad said.

“In her later years, Dr Mabo fought on behalf of the South Sea Islander community, sharing their history and advocating for their right to be recognised.

“Just last week she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from James Cook University, recognising her contribution to social justice and human rights.

“This State funeral will be an opportunity for everyone in our community to pay tribute to Dr Mabo, reflecting on her outstanding life and legacy.”

Her  Poipi, 22 months

Dr Bonita Mabo, photographed Australia Day, 2013.

Dr Bonita Mabo, photographed Australia Day, 2013.

THE granddaughter of Eddie Mabo continues her grandfather’s quest for justice as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s and human rights activist. 

Boneta-Marie Mabo and daughter Poipi, 17 months, were guests at Logan’s National Reconciliation Week celebrations at Logan Brothers Football Club last week.

GATHERING: An all-ages gathering attended National Reconciliation Week celebrations at Logan Brothers Football Club. Photos: Lisa Simmons

On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia recognised that a group of Torres Strait Islanders, led by Eddie Mabo, held ownership of Mer, also known as Murray Island.

In acknowledging the traditional rights of the Meriam people to the land, the court also held that native title existed for all Indigenous people and paved the way for future indigenous land rights claims.

This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme Don’t Keep History a Mystery highlighted lesser known aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and achievements.

Logan’s all-ages gathering on Thursday, June 14 brought together students from local schools with Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander musicians, dancers and community workers to hear family stories told by guests that included Ms Mabo and elder Aunty Faith Green. 

Logan acting mayor Cherie Dalley said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander story was woven into the fabric of Logan.

“Logan is proud of its rich Indigenous heritage and the council has been at the forefront of promoting reconciliation in the city, Having Boneta-Marie here, someone with such an intimate knowledge of the reconciliation process, should inspire us all as a community to build a stronger understanding of Indigenous Australia and its place in our city,” she said.