This year marks the 30 years since the Mabo case overturned the doctrine of Terra Nullius in the high court of Australia. In honour of this historical occasion, I am planning on restoring Koiki’s traditional home and final resting place; Las village, Mer (Murray) Island. This restoration of Las village would allow Koiki’s clansmen (Piadrum) to mark this milestone and celebrate in his honour with traditional ceremonies that have not been conducted in Las for over 20 years.
In 2019 I began this journey with some of my first trips back to Mer in 20 years, when I arrived, I felt sad as the land my ancestors onced occupied has become a mess. Koiki’s Las the land he fought and died for had been abandoned for several years and the jungle and sea have claimed the land.
In 2020 I began to fill holes relevel the ground and clear land of Rubbish, debris, coconut trees and pandanus; this was back breaking work all done by hand with a rake and machete purchased from bunnings.
Sitting on the beach exhausted and filled with pride I promised myself that I would breathe life back into Las and the Piadrum clan igniting the fire that once fuelled my grandfather.
By donating you will help keep alive the story of Koiki and you are acknowledging his life long battle; that he would sadly not get to see.
Read further to find more information.
My name is Kaleb Mabo, I am a grandson of the late Koiki Mabo.
Edward Koiki Mabo was an Indigenous Australian man from the Torres Strait Islands known for his role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights in Australia, in particular the landmark decision of the High Court of Australia that overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius ("nobody's land") that had previously characterised Australian law with regard to land and title.
On 21 January 1992, nearly ten years after beginning their legal claim in the High Court of Australia, Eddie Koiki Mabo passed away from cancer aged fifty-six.
The following months on 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia decided in favour of Eddie Koiki Mabo and his fellow plaintiffs. The ruling on this landmark case recognised in Australian law for the first time the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their lands based on their traditional connection to and occupation of their Country; a decision that countered the claim by the British that Australia was ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no-one).
June 3rd is now celebrated as a public holiday throughout the Torres Straits and widely known as ‘Mabo Day’
Mer (Murray) Island is the eastern most inhabited island in the Torres Strait. Located approximately 214 kms east of Thursday Island and is one of the most remote Indigenous communities in Australia.
Due to the remoteness of Mer this project is estimated to take at least 3 months and ideally would need to be started in March, with the aim for all preparations are complete by the 3rd of June.
What is funding going towards?
Funds would be used for material and equipment required to complete rough stages outlined below, with some funding allocated to airfares and shipping of equipment.
• Stage 1- Land clearing, at this point land is being cleared by hand however the hope is to raise enough funds to hire/buy/ or be donated a bobcat or land moving equipment.
• Stage 2- Land will required to be levelled and reenforced.
• Stage 3- A island style gazebo will be erected for attending families to sit under for shelter from the elements.
• Stage 4- building toileting facilities (drop holes)
• Stage 5- building a shack to cook in.
• Stage 6- traditional wind break will be erected, with assistance of post digging equipment or by manual labour.
• Stage 7- Tables, generators and lighting for event.