Performance celebrates anniversary
Celebrations focused on 150 years of Roebourne as well as 50,000 years of local indigenous culture and history at the official town anniversary launch, held at the Ngurin Cultural Centre last Wednesday.
The main attraction was the inter-cultural Tjaabi show, a high-tech performance of song, dance, story and visual imagery that wove together 10 of the unique indigenous song forms from families in and around the Roebourne area.
It covered Ngarluma, Yindjabarndi, Marduthunera, Kariyarra, Kurruma and Banjima countries and had the crowd enthralled by stories happy, sad and exciting.
About 950 people — roughly the population of Roebourne — turned out to watch the firsttime performance, which was the result of a collaboration between Roebourne Ngarluma man and lead performer Patrick Churnside, arts social justice group Big hART and community members.
Churnside said the overwhelmingly positive audience response marked a “commissioning” of the show, which may go on to tour further afield.
“It’s a reflection of that culture, but also how this age-old culture has been integrated and still is continuing in mainstream Roebourne,” he said.
“It was a story I wanted to give back to the elders of this community.
“In the last 150 years they would have seen a lot of changes ... but from their perspective, those Tjaabi and those songs are something that brings a feeling out in them.
“And that I guess is something I can’t put a price on, because I know that singing and that culture, it instils pride in our elders, but it also educates our younger generations about the importance of that culture.”
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long spoke on behalf of the City as a sponsor of the Roebourne anniversary celebrations, while Yindjibarndi elder Tootsie Daniels gave a powerful speech reflecting on the adversities its people had endured and overcome in the past 150 years.
Big hART creative director and Tjaabi writer and director Scott Rankin said the town’s anniversary was the perfect time to recognise the strong living culture of Roebourne, which he called “the centre of the Aboriginal world in the Pilbara”.
“(It’s been) 150 years since European people came here, but the continuity which is going forward and goes into the past is also a thing to celebrate,” he said.
“And really, 150 years is (six or seven) generations, and we’re talking about 2000 generations of continuity and culture, into which this little moment in time has come, and new futures are being built.”
Tjaabi performers take in the applause at the end of the show.