...records of those fights about land...
In an interview in 1989, Ron Day, the Chairman of Murray Island explained the significance of the Murray Island Native Court, established in 1898:
'In those days, (before missionaries) the people owned the land, the tribes were set up in different areas, different tribes owned different areas and if you trespass my land or his land it means instant death because you're breaking the law of Malo.
'It so happened that missionaries landed here. They introduced these papers that we have to write down the will. Missionaries came and disrupted the civilisation that was here.
'And because of inter marriage, people married to different tribes, there are disputes, land disputes. And so they say, (the government and missionaries) "You sit down and write your will". They say that the people who own the land should have a document to prove it.
'And then the court started and the people come to the court to argue land disputes and these are the records of those fights about land. Today people still fight and we (the Council) refer back to these original court documents.'
Keywords: clans, Day, Ron, land disputes, land ownership, Malo's laws, Mer, missionaries, Murray Island Native Court, tribes, 1898-1999
Ron Day interviewed by Trevor Graham, 1989.
Author: Sharp, Nonie
© Yarra Bank Films P/L
Source: Day, Ron