The first official engagement of His Honour Professor Hugh Heggie PSM Administrator of the NT was a Welcome to Country and a meeting with Larrakia Traditional Owners.
“To be the first appointment after being sworn in was a sign for Larrakia and mobs across the Territory that the new Administrator is going to have a real focus on First Nations people” said Jerome Cubillo, Larrakia Nation Chair.
“For us it was an opportunity to outline our priorities and to communicate to Government House our expectations of responsibilities and actions while on Larrakia country.”
Important ceremony for an important occasion
Jerome along with Aunty Bilawara Lee, David Kurnoth, James Parfitt, Roque Lee, Trent Lee, Tony Lee and Larrakia Nation CEO Michael Rotumah were invited to meet the Administrator when he arrived at Government House after being sworn in in early February.
“We used face painting to greet the Administrator which is only used in significant and special occasions” said Jerome. “To have the Administrator participate signified his good relationship with First Nations people and that he is real and genuine in his intent.”
The Administrator and Ms Ruth Jones were walked through the smoking ceremony performed by Trent and Tony Lee, and then to a Welcome to Country by James Parfitt on the steps of Government House.
A private meeting was held in the Administrator’s office with Jerome, Bilawara, James and David.
A chance to talk about a treaty
“In the meeting we talked about our plight for a treaty” said Jerome. “On behalf of Larrakia and all Aboriginal people across Australia we wanted to remind the Administrator that we haven’t ceded our sovereignty of Larrakia land and that 50 years on we still don’t have a treaty.
“We wanted to make it clear of our continued plight to see Larrakia land back in the hands of Larrakia people. We also talked about his role, and how we can continue to advocate for Larrakia people.”
Opportunity to carry an important message
“We were proud to be charged with the responsibility of talking on behalf of Larrakia about what is important to us. We knew we were carrying a really important message, a really strong message for all Larrakia, and we were able to get that message across very clearly and firmly,” said Jerome.
“We are the Traditional Owners of the greater Darwin region and we are still fighting for that recognition. We want to see these things move from being tokenistic to being genuine and to see our hopes and dreams come to fruition.
“We definitely felt it was a significant moment and an important moment in time for Larrakia people because it ensures our message is being heard right up to King Charles.
More Larrakia involvement and influence in Government House
“In the meeting we presented a gift of painted message sticks, framed Larrakia protocols and the Larrakia flag with plans for the flag to be displayed at Government House”, said Jerome.
“We talked about commissioning a statement piece of Larrakia art displayed permanently in Government House because there is art representative of all other Aboriginal groups and cultures around the Territory, but no Larrakia art.
“We also pressed for Larrakia naming conventions to be used in Government House which would see more Larrakia language used to name significant rooms. We talked about including Kenbi Dancers in Government House open days for example and how to include more Larrakia culture at all levels at the house.”