EMBRACING: Tewantin State School came together   for NAIDOC Week.
EMBRACING: Tewantin State School came together for NAIDOC Week. Caitlin Zerafa

A celebration of culture and story

IT MAY have been during the holidays, but students and teachers at Tewantin State School marked NAIDOC Week on Monday with a cultural celebration of story, song and dance.

Guest performers, students and a special appearance from two larger-than-life creations made up the afternoon, this year celebrating the theme, "Because of her, we can!”

Teacher Akeisha Collins said the assembly was a way to acknowledge traditional culture.

"We're really excited, it's our first very large NAIDOC celebration and we have activities running over the week, focusing as much as we can on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women that have come before us, remembering the fight they have had for equality,” she said.

"It's really about closing the gap and ensuring our Aboriginal and Islander students are achieving at benchmark, but for me closing the gap is more than that, it is about how we relate to one another and closing the gap in our respect in one another.”

Students, teachers and special guests came together at Tewantin State School to celebrate NAIDOC Week.
Students, teachers and special guests came together at Tewantin State School to celebrate NAIDOC Week. Caitlin Zerafa

Tewantin has 35 students who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and the school staff try to embrace the culture in everyday learning.

"We are looking at our Gubbi Gubbi language which we are trying to use in our classroom and we are looking at the weather words this term and we'll roll it out to welcome the children in the mornings,” Akeisha said.

Those students were invited to perform a traditional dance during the assembly, known as the dance of the black cockatoo.

"They now feel a part of something that is special and they can connect with their culture in a way perhaps they haven't been able to before,” she said.

Students, teachers and special guests came together at Tewantin State School to celebrate NAIDOC Week.
Students, teachers and special guests came together at Tewantin State School to celebrate NAIDOC Week. Caitlin Zerafa

Students were respectful as they watched and participated in the assembly.

Local Indigenous people Nathan Morgan and Jacquie Sandy taught the students traditional dances and song.

"It's for everyone to come together and showcase all the different cultures that are around and embrace it so it's a continuing thing and is not going to get lost,” Jacquie said.

"How we engage with the kids and how they get so into it and want to take on that information that we give them is incredible.

"We're here to teach them about their history and their culture, because as much as we're Indigenous to the Sunshine Coast, they all live here ... so it is quite a big part of their history and a big part of their culture,” Nathan said.

Trish Lehmann and husband, deputy principal Rick Cass made the two large animals; Dhakhan the Rainbow Serpent and Malo the Octopus, who were carried through the hall and across the stage, representing ancient Indigenous stories.

"Dhakhan was for one of our previous celebrations at the school for Harmony Day, a fun project,” Trish said.

"Our new giant creature Malo who has made his debut appearance today, and again another collaboration with Rick, happened a lot faster than Dhakhan, took us about three or four days to create that piece made all from recycled products.

"I think they are a great symbol, a physical representation of what otherwise might be lost in interpretation,” she said.


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