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Napranum visits the Pacific

Napranum travellers prepare to leave for their big adventure
Forty-six Elders, families and members of the Kids Club from the Indigenous community of Napranum on Cape York, travelled for four weeks to N.Z, Tonga and Fiji.

Many of those who travelled are linked with the programs of the Congress Uniting Church in Napranum.

Participants described the trip as a great time of exchanging and sharing culture, dances, spirituality, kindness and happiness.

One of the Elders Moira Bosen said it was an experience that had opened their eyes.

"Life is very hard for Pacific Islanders. They have to sweat to put food on the table, whereas here government provides that.

"The kids are on the side of the road selling firewood, and the women what they have grown in their gardens. This is the local economy, way of survival for people. It was good for the children and us elders to see and experience this

"We take a lot for granted here with food and money. My hope is that the kids have learnt about being independent in life, that education is very important to that as it provides opportunity and freedom."

"Indigenous Tongans and Fijians are working in the banks, hospitals, Post offices, as pilots, politics, in all professions, whereas here (Australia) white people are in all these positions. This was very different. There (Fiji) was a great determination to get educated. Often children would walk many kilometres to get to school."

Duri Davui, one of the trip organisers, said that the trip helped people including the young ones know who they are.

"We received enormous amount of warm hospitality, and attended ceremonies for Welcoming and Sorrow times. These ceremonies were very different for us. For example people wore a particular type of clothing for sad times.

"We saw that family members support one another, that parents really have time for their kids. We don’t share. Over there they share. Many people that went on the trip had lost their language, and we really envied people we visited that still have their own language."

When applying for Australian passports prior to travel many of the group were affected by the historical factors when past Australian Government policy moved people around the state and removed children from families.

Many Indigenous people were given different first names and family names when white people and the white system changed spellings and changed traditional given names to European names.

Requirements such as Birth Registry searches made it difficult and costly for many travelling on the trip when it came to applying for passports.

"It was great to see children participating in cultural and church life," said Elder Mary Anne Coconut.

"Youth are involved in church and activities in Fiji not just worship but youth program, drama and singing. Our Kids from Napranum noticed this. They said, ‘Church is not just for people like our Aunties.’"

"There it was similar the to the way Elders in Napranum respect each other. The respect for Elders in Fiji and Tonga is very high. No one steps over someone else’s boundary. It is a real strength in both places."

Photo : Napranum travellers prepare to leave for their big adventure