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Eddie Koiki Mabo Timeline

Accompanying website for the Eddie Koiki Mabo Timeline inside the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, James Cook University


The University College becomes James Cook University, officially proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth II at the Douglas campus.

Queen visit Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Sir Alan Mansfield, Governor of Queensland at Townsville Campus, April 20 1970
© Image courtesy of JCU
Queen signs royal ascent The Queen signs the royal assent document
© Image courtesy of JCU
Queen signs visitors book The Queen signs the library visitors book
© Image courtesy of JCU


Koiki standing beside Black Community School Bus

Koiki stands beside the Black Community School Bus
© Mabo Family Collection
Image courtesy of Yarra Bank Films
NLA: Papers of Edward Koiki Mabo, MS 8822, Series 2, Folio 5

Koiki and Bonita co-found the Townsville Black Community School, one of the first in Australia. Students learn about their own language and culture, away from the racism experienced in mainstream schooling. 

Koiki serves as the school’s Director, and Bonita as a teacher’s aide and craft teacher. In 1975, Koiki’s passion and commitment to education is recognised when he is asked to join and serve as President on the National Aboriginal Education Committee. He serves as President on the committee for three years. 


Koiki's JCU staff photograph

Koiki's staff photograph from James Cook University
© Image courtesy of JCU

After discussions with Henry Reynolds and Noel Loos at JCU, Koiki learns that he does not have legal title to his land on Mer.  This happened during the time Mabo was working as a gardener at JCU, he mentioned his 'land holding' on Mer and was informed by Loos and Reynolds 'that the outer Torres Strait Islands were Crown Land; indeed they were designated on a map... as "Aboriginal Reserve". Loos recalls "how shocked Koiki was 'that his traditional rights to land on Mer were not legally recognised, and how determined he was that 'no-one would take his land away" (Keon-Cohen, 2013, p.41).

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country

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