AS ONE: Celebrating Mabo Day at a harmonious Tewantin State School.
AS ONE: Celebrating Mabo Day at a harmonious Tewantin State School. Peter gardiner

Tewantin students celebrate Mabo Day

AMID all the fuss surrounding indigenous State of Origin stars not singing the national anthem, a Noosa school was bringing all cultures together to celebrate Mabo Day.

On Monday at assembly, Tewantin State School was in harmony with the historic land rights battle fought by Eddie Mabo on behalf of his people.

School deputy principal Rick Cass introduced the special tribute by Class 5C by noting that in the Torres Strait Mabo Day is major event with a public holiday declared with special marches and feasting.

This is to mark the landmark decision of the High Court of Australia on June 3, 1992, which debunked the legal claim of terra nullius, that Australia belonged to no one before the arrival of Captain James Cook, followed by European settlement.

"In his heart, Eddie believed the land he lived on belonged to Torres Strait Islander people who lived there for thousands of years,” one of the students recited.

In fact, the whole class took turns in narrating events that would help reshape Australian thinking, explaining that terra nullius meant "this land belongs to no one”.

"As a result, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's occupation of and unique connection with the land was not recognised and the British took the land without agreement or payment.”

The students said the successful legal challenge recognised the original inhabitants' connection to the land, but sadly Eddie Mabo did not live to see the decision, passing away months before.

Peter Gardiner