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The late Mr Eddie Koiki Mabo is considered a legendary man within the Torres Strait, his name synonymous with native title rights.
His story began in May 1982 when he and fellow Murray Islanders, David Passi, Sam Passi, James Rice and Celuia Salee instituted a claim in the High Court for native title to the Murray Islands within Torres Strait.
The claim was made against the State of Queensland which responded by seeking to legislate to extinguish retrospectively any native title on the islands, which was challenged in the High Court on the grounds that it was inconsistent with the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act.
The High Court, in a historic judgement delivered on June 3, 1992 (Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (“Mabo Case”) ), accepted the claim from Eddie Mabo and the other claimants that their people had occupied the island of Mer for hundred of years before the arrival of the British.
The Court found that the Meriam people were “entitled as against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands in the Murray Islands.”
The decision overturned a legal fiction that Australia was Terra Nullius (a land belonging to no-one) at the time of colonisation.
3 June is a bank holiday in the Torres Shire.
Coming of the Light
The Coming of the Light Festival
The Coming of the Light festival marks the day the London Missionary Society first arrived in Torres Strait. The missionaries landed at Erub Island on 1 July 1871, introducing Christianity to the region.
This is a significant day for Torres Strait Islanders, who are predominantly of Christian faith, and religious and cultural ceremonies across Torres Strait and mainland Australia are held on 1 July each year.
NAIDOC, the National Aboriginal and Islanders' Day Observance Committee, is commemorated annually across the country during a week-long celebration.
It is an opportunity to recognise the traditional owners of the land, their distinct and rich cultures and their contribution to Australia.
NAIDOC celebrations also provide Australia’s Indigenous people the opportunity to showcase their culture and heritage to the rest of the Australian community.
For more information and to find out about the dates and planned activities for the next NAIDOC week, go to www.naidoc.org.au
The Torres Strait Cultural Festival occurs once every 2 years during the month of September on Thursday Island. On alternate years, a Music Festival is held.
The event is coordinated and hosted by the Torres Shire Council.
The Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island also runs regular cultural events, demonstrations and workshops. An events program is available by telephoning the Centre on 07 4090 2130 or by entering the link above.