Guide to the Papers of Edward Koiki Mabo


MS 8822

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2009

Collection Summary

Mabo, Eddie, 1936-1992
Papers of Edward Koiki Mabo
Date Range
1943, 1959-1992 (bulk 1972-1992)
Collection Number
MS 8822
4.14 metres (28 ms boxes + 2 folio boxes + 1 outsize phase box)
Language of Materials
Special Collections (Manuscripts)


Scope and Contents

Edward Koiki Mabo was born in 1936 on the island of Mer, one of the Murray Islands, which are located at the eastern extremity of Torres Strait. In June 1992, six months after his death, Mabo achieved national prominence as the successful principal plaintiff in the landmark High Court ruling on native land title. The High Court ruling, for the first time, gave legal recognition to the fact that indigenous land ownership existed in Australia before European settlement and that, in some cases, this land tenure was not subsequently extinguished by the Crown.

Conditions Governing Access

Access conditions may apply to this collection, please refer to the collection's catalogue record for further information (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Edward Koiki Mabo, National Library of Australia, MS 8822, [series and file number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

An initial instalment of papers of Eddie Mabo was acquired by the Library from his widow, Bonita Mabo, in 1994. A further instalment was acquired from the same source in November 2002.

Other material relating to the Mabo land rights case are held in the Manuscript Collection in the papers of Bryan Keon-Cohen at MS 9518.

The papers in the original instalment of the Mabo collection have been copied onto microfilm (mfm G 27539-27549) which is held in the Newspaper and Microform collection. Due to minor alterations to the original arrangement of the papers in 2006, the series and folder numbers on the microfilm may differ to those in this finding aid. The original finding aid is available to researchers upon request.

The Oral History collection holds a number of sound recordings of interviews and lectures by Eddie Mabo at TRC 3504.

Artworks by Eddie Mabo are held in the Pictures Collection and can be accessed via the Library's catalogue.


When the Library took delivery of the initial instalment of Mabo Papers, they consisted of a mixture of labelled files and loose papers. Files created and identified by Mabo have been retained and located in their appropriate series. In some cases, where papers were clearly misfiled, file contents were rearranged by Library staff in consultation with the Mabo family. Loose papers have been arranged into series in thematic and chronological order by Library staff. Readers can identify files created by Mabo as these have been kept in their original folders and stored in the Library's numbered acid-free folders. The guide published by the National Library in 1995 is a record of the content and organisation of the original instalment.

Biographical Note

Loos, Noel and Mabo, Koiki. Edward Koiki Mabo: his life and struggle for land rights. Brisbane : University of Queensland Press, 1996.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Diaries, 1976-1992

Two Woods commercial desk diaries, 1976 (File 1_2)

Contain occasional entries recording appointments, activities, addresses and telephone numbers.

Kingsgrove one-day-to-a page diary, 1981 (File 3)

Contains occasional entries recording appointments, meetings, telephone numbers. Some entries in the hand of Jessie Mabo-Smith, daughter of Mabo.

Collins A4 one-day-to-a-page diary, 1981 (File 4)

Contains entries in two languages, English and Meriam Mer. Records details of work for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Legal Aid Services and other activities.

Collins three-day-to-a-page diary, 1987 (File 5)

Contains brief entries recording appointments and daily activities, including work for the Moomba Festival and the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts, and visits to Canberra for High Court sittings.

A4 one-day-to-a-page diary, 1988 (File 6)

Contains a number of detailed entries, particularly during the period January-March. Describes meetings with the Premier of Queensland and the Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Gerry Hand), visits to Torres Strait and attendance at High Court sittings.

Universal A5 one-page-to-a-day diary, 1989 (File 7)

Contains entries describing events, activities, domestic life, visits to Torres Strait and progress on the court case.

Upward A4 one-week-to-two-pages diary, 1991 (File 8)

Contains entries describing activities, domestic life, travel, health, and progress on the court case.

Collins one-day-to-a-page diary, 1992 (Item 9)

Contains six filled pages, dated early January. Written while Mabo was in Townsville and Brisbane Hospitals with his final illness. Reflects on life, love for his wife and family, family inheritances and rights, and wonders whether the High Court decision will be announced in time for him to hear it.

Series 2. Employment and personal papers, 1943-1992

Miscellaneous personal documents, 1943, 1959-1992 (File 1)

Includes copies of birth certificate, 1943, and marriage certificate, 1959; photocopies of letters from Mabo's adoptive mother to Bonita Mabo, 1960; correspondence and telegrams relating to the denial of permission for Mabo to visit Mer, 1973-1974; handwritten lyrics by Mabo in Meriam Mer and English, 1982; documents regarding the Mabo family property in Townsville; four pencil sketches by Mabo of scenes in the Murray Islands, 1980 and 1986 [two of the sketches are large format and are located in folio]; and clippings and tributes written following Mabo's death in 1992.

Papers relating to educational courses pursued by Mabo, 1983-1991 (File 2)

The courses included the Aboriginal Task Force Program, South Australian Institute of Technology, 1983-1984; and a coastal navigation course at Townsville College of TAFE, 1991.

Miscellaneous papers relating to Mabo's employment, 1980-1991 (File 3_5)

Includes job applications, personal résumés, references and correspondence.

Correspondence and other papers relating to Mabo's claims to the Defence Department, 1986 (File 6)

The claims were for pay adjustments owed to his late fathers, Benny Mabo and Zezon Sambo, both of whom served with the Australian Army in World War II.

Personal correspondence, c.1959-1960 (File 7)

The letters are from Mabo to Bonita Mabo, before and after their marriage. They were mostly written while Mabo was working as a fettler near Hughenden. There is also a letter from Mary Tanna, grandmother of Bonita, and miscellaneous notes.

Correspondence and other papers, c.1991-1992 (File 8)

Correspondence, 1991-1992, papers concerning the death of Mabo, verse, and miscellaneous papers.

Miscellaneous papers, c.1987-1992 (File 9)

Verse, a Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade certificate, correspondence 1987-1992 and other papers.

Miscellaneous papers, c.1986-1989 (File 10)

Correspondence 1986-1989, drafts, notes, vocabularies and other papers.

Papers concerning Aboriginal Task Force, 1983-1984 (File 11)

Papers concerning Townsville College of TAFE courses (File 12)

Miscellaneous letters and notes, 1984-1985 (File 13)

Job applications and other papers concerning employment, 1985-1988. (File 14)

Bound testimonial book signed by attendees at the Eddie Mabo headstone unveiling ceremony, 3 June 1995 (File 15)

Miscellaneous notes, c.1980s (File Folio 1)

Includes rough notes and sketches for a home on Las, Murray Island (unbuilt).

Australian Achiever medal (File Folio 2)

Video cassettes (4) containing unidentified programs, presumably about Mabo (File Folio 3)

Eddie Mabo S305.8991 RAC 45 minutes, 1975 (Item NLA.MS-SAV002748) - Shelf-Tall OH1-18-032
1 item, Sony box, Fuji AG label, Sony tape, Consumer formats - VHS, S-VHS etc
Eddie Mabo 305.8991 RAC 55 minutes, 1979 (Item NLA.MS-SAV002749) - Shelf-Tall OH1-18-032
1 item, Fuji AG E60, Consumer formats - VHS, S-VHS etc
Race and Culture Koiki Mabo S305.8991 RAC 40? minutes, 28/10/1982 (Item NLA.MS-SAV002750) - Shelf-Tall OH1-18-032
1 item, Fuji AG E60, Consumer formats - VHS, S-VHS etc
Race and Culture Torres Strait Islanders Land Rights K Mabo S305.8991 RAC 50 minutes, 23/09/1987 (Item NLA.MS-SAV002751) - Shelf-Tall OH1-18-032
1 item, Fuji AG E60, Consumer formats - VHS, S-VHS etc

Video cassette titled 'Mabo: a life of an Island Man' (File Folio 4)

Mabo - Life of an Island Man 90 minutes (Item NLA.MS-SAV002752) - Shelf-Tall OH1-18-032
1 item, Commercial video by Film Australia, Consumer formats - VHS, S-VHS etc

Copies of photographs of Mabo and others (File Folio 5)

Some copies were supplied by Mrs Mabo and others were made from photographs in the Mabo Papers or Mabo-related collections.

Eddie Mabo at James Cook University, early 1980s

Series 3. Business ventures, 1969-1991

Throughout the last 25 years of his life, Mabo often found it difficult to maintain long-term employment. Because of this, and because of a desire to be his own master, he became involved in a succession of family-based business and employment-creation ventures. While none of these was particularly successful, the last, Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, operated for some four years. The files in this series were created by Mabo.

See also Series 13 Folder 10 for papers relating to the involvement of Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd in the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts, 1988.

Documents relating to Meriam Cooperative Trading Society, 1968-1982 (File 1)

This was a bêche-de-mer fishing venture incorporated in 1972. Documents include certificate of incorporation, correspondence, bank statements, rules and membership forms.

Documents relating to the United Torres Strait Islanders Co-operative Trading Society, 1976 (File 2)

Includes membership lists and forms, and a financial statement.

Papers relating to proposed fishing ventures, 1985-1986 (File 3)

Papers relating to the Meriam Trading Company, 1986-1989 (File 4)

This was a fishing venture incorporated in 1982. Papers include correspondence with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the firm's solicitors, brochures, papers relating to boats and refrigeration equipment, and documents relating to the firm's change of name to Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1988-1989.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd statutory documents, 1982-1988 (File 5)

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1986-1989 (File 6)

Papers related to barges, boats and freezers and a funding application, Aboriginal Employment Development Policy, 1987.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1987 (File 7)

Papers relating to a funding application for the Queensland Self-Employment Venture Scheme, promotional material, a budget and cash flow estimates.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1986-1988 (File 8)

Funding submissions and budgets, 1987, and papers relating to employees and equipment.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1988 (File 9)

Membership register and market outlets for cray takes.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1988 (File 10)

Papers relating to the thatched village project, and food catering for the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts. See also Series 13, Folder 10 for papers relating to the involvement of Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd in the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts, 1988.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1988-1991 (File 11)

Miscellaneous loose papers, including correspondence, budgets, funding and loan applications, and projects.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1988-1989 (File 12)

Correspondence and other papers relating to boats and equipment, catch estimates and project proposals.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1989 (File 13)

Funding submission to the Aboriginal Development Commission for trochus shell and crayfishing projects.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, c.1987-1988 (File 14)

Papers relating to a proposed Building and Construction Unit, 1987. Loan application for a freezing plant on Mer, draft budgets and cash flow predictions, c.1988.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd, 1986, 1989 (File 15)

Draft funding submissions and cash flow predictions, 1989; an application for a trochus fishing licence, 1986; and papers relating to other marine projects.

Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd (File 16)

Flyers, circulars, draft letters, a budget and cash flow predictions.

Meriam Trading Company Ltd, 1983-1987 (File 17)

Rules, correspondence 1983-1987, and a grant application.

Meriam Trading Company Ltd, 1986 (File 18)

Draft goals, notes and a report of a visit to Mer Island.

Series 4. Black Community School, Townsville, 1973-1984

Mabo was Director of this School, the first of its kind established in Australia, throughout the ten years of its existence. The School, which was an independent school funded by the Commonwealth, was forced to close in 1983 because the lease on its site had expired and the School was unable to secure an alternative site.

Constitution and Memorandum and Articles of Association, c.1976 (File 1)

Roneoed and carbon copies.

Correspondence with Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs and Department of Education, 1974-1981. (File 2)

National Aboriginal Education Committee papers, 1976-1977 (File 3)

'Black Community School Study' (26 sheets), 1977. 'Assessment of Achievement Levels of Children attending the Black Community School' by Margaret Reynolds (four roneoed sheets), 1976.

Applications for teaching positions, 1977-1981 (File 4)

Correspondence and other papers, 1981 (File 5)

Correspondence and other papers relating to the acquisition of School land, 1981: and a newsletter, 'What's Going On at the Black Community School? Information for Parents and Friends' by the students and staff, 12 sheets, illustrated, September 1981.

Correspondence and other papers, 1978-1981 (File 6)

Includes a draft proposal by E.K. Mabo for the establishment of the Magani Institute as parent organisation for the Black Community School and to act as a centre for the pursuit of Torres Strait Islander Studies (typescript) 1978; and correspondence and other papers relating to land, funding and other matters.

Correspondence and other papers, 1981-1982 (File 7)

The papers relate to a proposal to establish a Black Community School on Mer, and funding.

Correspondence and other papers relating to grants and funding, 1982-1983 (File 8)

Survey of opinions, 1982 (File 9)

The survey was canvassing opinions on Black Independent Schools such as the Black Community School, and other associated matters, including parent survey forms.

Aboriginal Independent Schools Workshop and other papers, 1982-1983 (File 10)

The Workshop was convened by the National Aboriginal Education Committee in Darwin, 1982. Includes a draft report edited by J.R. Budby containing a paper by Mabo which discusses the challenges involved in running the Black Community School. There are also papers relating to the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs Area Advisory Committee, 1982-1983.

Survey form and other papers, 1982-1983 (File 11)

Includes a carbon copy of a completed Queensland Schools Commission survey form, 1982; and papers relating to the Commonwealth Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976, 1983.

Correspondence and other papers, c.1983 (File 12)

Correspondence relating to the School bus, 1983, and various papers relating to the languages and music of the Torres Strait.

Correspondence and other papers, 1982-1984 (File 13)

The papers relate to funding and the closure of the School because of its inability to secure a site.

Staff time sheets, 1980-1982 (File 14_16)

Wages books (two volumes), 1978-1982 (File 17_18)

Records relating to employees' income tax deductions, 1981-1983 (File 19)

Trustees' accounts book, 1976-1981 (File 20)

Students' roll book, 1973-1982 (File 21)

Accounts, receipts and bank statements, 1979 (File 22)

Miscellaneous financial records and bank statements, 1977-1980 (File 23)

Accounts paid: invoices and receipts, 1980-1981, 1980-1981 (File 24_25)

Petty cash receipts, 1981 (File 26)

Invoices and receipts, 1982-1983 (File 27)

Audited financial statements, 1979-1983 (File 28)

Cash payment book, 1975 (File 29)

Cash payment book, 1976 (File 30)

Minutes, correspondence, receipts, payments and a booklet on the Black Community School, 1976-1977 (File 31)

Notes, financial papers, letters, leaflets, 1976-1979 (File 32)

Attendance book and lists, 1974-1980 (File 33)

Miscellaneous papers, 1979-1985 (File 34)

Includes a paper by Margaret Reynolds 'Description of an ethnic community school'; and a training program module for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Staff time sheets, 1980-1981 (File 35)

Miscellaneous papers (File 36)

Includes teaching materials, photographs and a publication, This is the Black Community School.

Correspondence, forms, circulars, 1982-1983 (File 37_38)

Correspondence, financial statements, 1983 (File 39)

Correspondence, financial papers and drafts, 1981-1983 (File 40)

Cheques and cheque butts, 1976-1982 (File)

Album of project work re Mabo's teaching activities, including some of his artwork (File Folio 1)

School registers and wages book, 1976-1983 (File Folio 2)

Wages book, 1976; class roll books, 1976-1982; and school register, 1976-1983.

Series 5. Yumba-Meta Housing Association, 1973-1982

This Association acquired houses in Townsville using Commonwealth funds and was responsible for renting them to black tenants. Mabo was President of the Association, 1975-1980. During the period 1978-1980, Mabo's presidency was contested by a group of disaffected members and evicted tenants who formed a new Board of Directors.

NB. In November 2001, with the agreement of Mrs Bonita Mabo, the papers in this series were transferred to the Yumba-Meta Housing Association in Townsville. Copies of the papers can be found on the microfilm of the original instalment of Mabo Papers which was made in 1996 (reels mfm G 27539-27549).

Legal and financial records, 1973-1974 (File 1)

Articles of Association, 1973. Financial statements, year ended 30 September 1974. Contracts for houses, 1974.

Minute book for Annual General Meetings and meetings of the Board of Directors, 1975-1978. (File 2)

Financial records, 1975-1977 (File 3)

Loan register, 1976-1977. Annual Financial Report, 30 September 1976. Cash receipts worksheets, 1975-1976.

Membership applications, 1975-1978 (File 4)

Minutes and financial statements, 1976 (File 5)

Correspondence, financial statements, agendas and membership forms, 1976-1979 (File 6)

Membership records, 1978-1979 (File 7)

Receipt book, 1978-1979. Membership applications, 1979.

Directors' reports and meeting agenda, 1977-1979 (File 8)

Directors' reports to shareholders, 1977-1978. Annual General Meeting agenda, 1979.

Papers relating to dispute with tenants and associated eviction orders, 1977-1980 (File 9)

Includes newspaper cuttings, minutes, notices and letters of termination of membership.

Minute book with inserts, 1978-1980 (File 10)

Board records and papers relating to Yumba Meta dispute, 1979-1980 (File 11)

Board of Directors, 1979-80, plus circulars and correspondence with solicitors. Newspaper cuttings reporting friction between Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders within Yumba Meta, together with newspaper notices relating to the dispute, 1980.

Papers relating to membership litigation, including correspondence with solicitors, 1978-1979 (File 12)

Miscellaneous correspondence, 1980-1982 (File 13)

Series 6. National Aboriginal Education Committee, 1980-1987

The National Aboriginal Education Committee was set up to provide advice to the Minister of Education and the Department of Education on Aboriginal views on the educational needs of Aboriginal people, and to monitor existing policies and programs. Mabo became involved in this Committee through his work for the Black Community School, and was a Committee member between 1975 and 1978. Papers from this period do not appear to have survived. This Series documents Mabo's continued interest in the work of the Committee during the 1980s.

Conference and training papers, 1980-1981 (File 1)

Proceedings of the Fifth National Aboriginal Education Conference, 1980 (91 pp). Aboriginal and Islander Community Worker Training Program, 'Field Project Reports', Townsville College of Advanced Education, 1981 (87 pp).

Conference papers, reports and newsletters, 1982-1983 (File 2)

'NAEC Paper on Aboriginal Schools', roneoed, April 1982 (15 pp.). NAEC Conference report, Perth, July 1982, roneoed (6 pp). Draft discussion paper 'Man Power Planning: Preparing Aboriginal Teachers in Australia for the 1980s' by Vic Forrest, 1982 (13 pp). 'Aboriginal Studies: A Response to the Commonwealth Aboriginal Studies Working Group Report to the Australian Education Council' by John Lester, December 1982 (41 pp). Two issues of Ngali: School of Australian Linguistics Newsletter, 1982-1983.

Conference and other papers, c.1984 (File 3)

'Strategies for Teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students in Queensland Schools', Queensland Department of Education, 1984 (18 sheets). Conference papers from the NAEC/JCU National Conference: Aborigines and Islanders in Higher Education: The Need for Institutional Change.

Papers for the National Aboriginal Education Conference, Bendigo, 1981 (File 4_5)

Submission to House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Education by Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Education Advisory Committee (19 pp.), June 1981 (File 6)

Committee report and paper, 1976-1982 (File 7)

Progressive report of National Aboriginal Education Committee Conference recommendations, 1976-1980. National Aboriginal Education Committee paper on schools, 1982 (15 pp.).

Report of Aboriginal Independent Schools Workshop, Darwin, February 1982 (File 8)

Papers for Torres Strait Islander Education Workshop, Thursday Island, December 1983 (File 9)

Papers for National Conference on Aborigines and Islanders in Higher Education, Townsville, July 1985 (File 10_12)

Miscellaneous papers (File 13)

Includes a proposal for an Aboriginal Institute for Education and Cultural Studies; an Institute of American Indian Arts catalog; and notes on Aboriginal leadership.

Series 7. Diploma of Teaching course, Townsville College of Advanced Education (James Cook University), 1981-1984

In 1982, Townsville College of Advanced Education amalgamated with the James Cook University of North Queensland. Mabo eventually decided not to become a teacher because he felt he was unsuited to classroom situations. Many of the essays in Folders 2-9 have a Torres Strait Islander focus and include grades and tutors' comments. Papers relating to other educational activities pursued by Mabo can be found in Series 2, Folder 2, and Series 12, Folders 3-5.

Administrative papers and essay, 1981-1984 (File 1)

Administrative papers relating to enrolments, subject results and grants from the Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme, 1981-1984. Essay: 'Alternative Schools in Australia', 1981.

Course notes, teaching material and essays, 1981 (File 2)

Art. Contemporary Australian Society.

Course notes, teaching material and essays, 1981-1982 (File 3_4)


Course notes, teaching material and essays, 1982 (File 5_6)

Language Arts.

Course notes, teaching material and essays, 1982 (File 7)


Course notes, teaching material and essays, 1982 (File 8_9)


Course notes, teaching material and essays, 1984 (File 10)


Academic record, correspondence and assignments, c.1985 (File 11)

Statement of academic record, 1985, correspondence, and assignments by Mabo.

Work programs, class notes, 1983-1984 (File 12)

Lesson plans, work programs and other papers (File 13)

Lesson plans, cards from students and other papers (File 14)

Lesson plans, assignments and other papers (File 15)

Course notes, notes by Mabo and other papers (File 16_17)

Science notes (File 18)

Course notes, writings on Torres Strait Islands, and other papers (File 19_20)

Series 8. Land claim, 1981-1992

In 1981, at a conference on indigenous land rights in Townsville, a decision was made to pursue a native land title claim for the people of the Murray Islands in the High Court of Australia. In 1982, Mabo and four other Islander plaintiffs instituted proceedings against the State of Queensland, claiming that their islands had been continuously inhabited and exclusively possessed by their people who lived in permanent settled communities. They acknowledged that the British Crown became sovereign of the islands upon annexation, but claimed continuous enjoyment of their land rights which had not been validly extinguished by the sovereign through the granting of freehold title or land leases to others.

The Queensland Government attempted to defeat the claim with the passage of the Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985. In 1988, the High Court ruled this Act contrary to the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975. In May 1989, the High Court remitted the land claim to the Queensland Supreme Court for hearing and determination of all issues of fact. In November 1990, Justice Moynihan of the Supreme Court delivered the Court's determination of the issues of fact. The case was argued for four days before the High Court in May 1991. The final decision was handed down in favour of Mabo on 3 June 1992. This decision overturned the 204-year-old legal doctrine of terra nullius, which held that the lands of the Australian continent were 'practically unoccupied' at the time of the proclamation of British sovereignty.

Further reading: The Mabo Decision, and the Full Text of the Decision in Mabo and Others v State of Queensland. Commentary by Richard H. Bartlett. Sydney: Butterworths, 1993. Mabo, a Judicial Revolution: The Aboriginal Land Rights Decision and Its Impact on Australian Law. Edited by M.A. Stephenson and Suri Ratnapala. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1993. Mabo Papers. Department of the Parliamentary Library, Parliamentary Research Service. Subject Series no. 1. Canberra: AGPS, 1994.

Manuscript and typescript of speech given by Mabo at the Land Rights and Future of Australian Race Relations Conference, James Cook University, Townsville, August 1981 (File 1)

Edward Mabo's land rights for Torres Strait Islanders speech (handwritten)

Correspondence and 'Plaintiffs' Statement of Facts', 1982-1989 (File 2)

Correspondence with solicitor Greg McIntyre, 1982-1989; and 'Plaintiffs' Statement of Facts Volume 1 with Annexures', 77 pp., spiral bound, 1984.

Miscellaneous papers, 1981-1982 (File 3)

Includes printed items, a cutting, and papers by Paul Richards and Barbara Hocking.

Paper by R.E. Johannes and J.W. MacFarlane (CSIRO) on traditional sea rights in the Torres Strait Islands, 1983 (File 4)

Drafts of letters by Mabo and copy of letter about land rights debate from Tony Nichols, 1984 (File 5)

Miscellaneous papers, c.1985 (File 6)

Includes newspaper cuttings; receipts for Torres Strait Islander contributions to defray the costs of the court case; handwritten drafts recording Mabo's reactions to his dispute with Areag Dipoma over the ownership of land at Sebeg, which Mabo claimed belonged to his adoptive father, Benny; annotated photocopy from Coe v Commonwealth (1979) 24 ALR 118.

Drafts of letters, sketch plan and notes by Mabo, newspaper article about High Court challenge, 1985 (File 7)

Brief for Australian Labor Party National Executive on land rights, newsletters, 1985 (File 8)

Miscellaneous papers, 1986 (File 9_10)

Includes maps of Mer showing traditional land ownership boundaries; annotated photocopies from Canadian Federal Court reports; Mabo family genealogies used in legal debates over Mabo's lineage and inheritance; a photocopy of an article by Anthony Wilkin, 'Land Tenure and Inheritance at Mabuiag'; and document entitled 'Current Report on Mabo and Others vs Queensland and Commonwealth' by Koiki Mabo, March 1986.

Miscellaneous papers, 1987-1988 (File 11)

Includes correspondence with Murray Island Council; transcripts of court proceedings, February 1987; newspaper cuttings; applications for financial assistance with legal costs; copy of Nonie Sharp's 'Faces of Power in the Torres Strait Islands, the 1980s and the 1930s', a 30-page Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) Congress paper; and rough working notes.

Drafts of letters from Mabo to Chairman and Council of Mer Island, 1988 (File 12)

Miscellaneous papers, 1989 (File 13)

Includes correspondence with Murray Island Council regarding the Dipoma/Sebeg land dispute; issue of Torres News, 26 May 1989; newspaper cuttings; Mabo's notes of the '50th Day', his summary of hearings before Mr Justice Moynihan on Mer; correspondence with Yarra Bank films regarding the documentary Land Bilong Islanders; genealogical notes; and an application for funding assistance with associated correspondence.

Copies of letters from Mabo to Ron Day and from Caroline Modee to Greg McIntyre, 1989 (File 14)

Miscellaneous papers, 1990-1992 (File 15)

Includes articles on the proposed Cape York spaceport; newspaper cuttings; a circular letter by Mabo's daughter Maleta West, 1992, which criticises Murray Islanders for not supporting the case sufficiently; and various tributes to Eddie Mabo written at the time of his death.

Miscellaneous papers (File 16)

Includes a map of Mer; a paper by Jeremy Beckett on ownership of land in the Torres Strait Islands; verse and songs about Mer; and notes by Mabo.

Mounted display notices in English and Meriam Mer, 1985, c.1988 (File Folio 1)

The notices (1985), which combine press cuttings and messages written by Mabo, call on Islanders to support the land rights case and oppose the actions of the Queensland Government. Photocopies of newspaper cuttings, 1988.

Series 9. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1978-1989

Located in Canberra, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (later the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) promotes and supports research into the cultures (both traditional and contemporary), languages, histories, and contemporary needs of Australia's indigenous communities. Mabo first became associated with the Institute in 1978 when, as Director of the Black Community School, he was appointed a member of its Education Advisory Committee.

Papers relating to Mabo's membership of the Institute's Education Advisory Committee, 1978-1979 (File 1)

Includes minutes, agendas, grant applications, reports, discussion notes and conference papers.

Papers relating to Mabo's membership of the Institute's Social and Cultural Anthropology Committee, 1984-1986 (File 2_5)

Includes circulars, correspondence, minutes, grant applications and evaluations of grant applications.

Correspondence, 1985-1989 (File 6)

Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Bill 1989: copy of Bill with Explanatory Memoranda and Second Reading Speech.

Series 10. ABIS Community Cooperative Society Ltd, 1985-1987

The ABIS Community Cooperative Society was a Townsville-based Aboriginal and Islander cooperative housing association. Mabo was a Director of ABIS, 1986-1987.

Miscellaneous papers, c.1985-1987 (File 1_2)

Includes agendas, minutes, financial statements, Constitution and Rules [1974, amended 1983] and papers concerning allocation of housing.

Papers relating to Mabo's dispute with other Board members concerning housing allocations, and his removal from the Housing Selection Committee, 1986-1987 (File 3)

Includes correspondence, minutes and drafts of letters and memoranda which outline Mabo's interpretation of the dispute.

Series 11. Murray Island Community Council, 1985-1991

During the late 1980s, Mabo attempted to gain election to the Murray Island Community Council. However because he had not lived on Mer since the late 1950s, his residential status was questioned and it was ruled that he was not eligible to nominate. Other papers relating to Murray Island Community Council can be found in Series 2, Folder 1, and Series 8, Folders 5-6.

Papers relating to Mabo's attempts to gain election to Murray Island Community Council and the rulings that he was not eligible to nominate, 1985-1991 (File 11)

Includes correspondence, election notices, rough notes and a Supreme Court of Queensland affidavit by Mabo, 1991.

Series 12. Moomba Festival, 1986-1987

During 1986-1987, Mabo participated in the Communication and Arts Management Scheme run by the Aboriginal Training and Cultural Institute. Through this Scheme he was appointed Assistant Director, Aboriginal Arts for the Melbourne Moomba Festival. Mabo claimed that his efforts ensured the first ever Aboriginal involvement in the Moomba Festival.

Correspondence and other papers relating to the Moomba performances of the Dance Theatre of Fiji, 1986-1987. Papers relating to the Victorian Aboriginal Host Committee for the Moomba Festival, 1987 (File 1)

Booklets Moomba Fantasy and Pacific Paradise. Sample of Pacific Paradise planning and production manual. List of organisations with entries (File 2)

Papers relating to Mabo's participation in the Communication and Arts Management Scheme run by the Aboriginal Training and Cultural Institute, 1987. It was through this Scheme that Mabo became involved in Moomba. Papers include essays, assignments, exams and project notes (File 3_5)

Series 13. 5th Festival of Pacific Arts, Townsville, 1986-1988

The 5th Festival of Pacific Arts, which took place in Townsville in 1988, was the first to be held in Australia. The Festival of Pacific Arts occurs every four years and is organised under the auspices of the South Pacific Commission. The 1988 Festival received funding from the Australian Government through the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Environment. Mabo was employed by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs as Community Arts Liaison Officer for the Festival, 1987-1988.

'Report on Management Structure and Planning and Budget Options Prepared for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Environment, and the Interim Steering Committee for the Festival' by Nicholas Clark and Associates, Management Consultants, April 1986. Spiral bound, 219 sheets (File 1)

Miscellaneous papers, 1986-1987, including address book, correspondence, Advisory Committee minutes, memoranda, proposed Festival program, grant application to the Aboriginal Arts Board, press releases and representations from Magani Malu Kes calling inter alia for the sacking of the Festival Director and the appointment of Eddie Mabo in his place (File 2)

Letter to Mabo from Barry Cohen, Minister for Arts, 27 April 1987, appointing Mabo to the Board of Directors for the Festival. Board papers, April-May 1987, including assessment of the Nicholas Clark report and photocopies of reports on previous Festivals (File 3)

Board papers, May-June 1987, including agenda papers, minutes and correspondence (File 4)

Miscellaneous papers, July-October 1987, including Board minutes and agendas; duty statements and job advertisement for Aboriginal/Islander Community Arts Liaison Officer position; and photocopies of newspaper cuttings relating to a dispute between Charles Perkins and the Minister for Arts, Senator Richardson, over proposed changes to the membership of the Festival Board (File 5)

Board papers, October 1987, including agenda papers, minutes and correspondence (File 6)

Board papers, March 1988, including agenda papers, minutes and correspondence (File 7)

Advisory Committee papers, 1987-1988, including minutes, agendas and correspondence. Craft Village: conditions of contract document (File 8)

Financial statements by KPMG Hungerfords Accountants, 1987-1988 (File 9)

Board papers, February-March 1988, including agenda papers, minutes, application forms (File 10_11)

Board papers, March-May 1988, including agenda papers, minutes, memoranda, reports and correspondence (File 12)

Board papers, July-August 1988, including agenda papers, and minutes (File 13)

Opening ceremony, programs, maps, August, 1988 (File 14)

Papers relating to the involvement of Meriam Enterprises Pty Ltd in the Festival Craft Village project, 1988, including correspondence, tender documents and plans of the proposed village (File 15)

Miscellaneous papers, including Mabo's sketches of his proposed Festival logo (File 16)

Festival program and other related publications, 1988 (File 17)

Miscellaneous papers (File 18)

Series 14. Magani Malu Kes/Torres Straight Independence Movement, 1980, 1986-1989, 1991

Magani Malu Kes is the name for the Torres Strait Islands in the language of the Torres Strait. The organisation Magani Malu Kes (MMK) was an organisation for Torres Strait Islanders which Mabo had incorporated as a public company in 1987. Of major concern to Magani Malu Kes was the way in which Islander interests appeared to be marginalised by those of mainland Aborigines when indigenous issues were considered by governments. As a consequence, Magani Malu Kes advocated Torres Strait Islander independence from Australia. Mabo was Vice-Chairman of MMK, 1987-1988.

Photocopy of letter from Mabo to George Mye of Darnley Island (1 February 1980) proposing the formation of a Torres Strait Independence movement headed by a 'Torres United Party' and a 'Magani Institute'. Correspondence with Senator Jim Keeffe and two roneoed papers by Nonie Sharp on the case for Torres Strait independence, 1980. Newspaper cuttings relating to Torres Strait independence, 1986. Draft petition to Gerry Hand regarding the manner in which the Aboriginal Arts Board and the Australia Council neglected the interests of Torres Strait Islanders, n.d. Proposals for establishment of Mer Health Service, a Torres Strait Travel Agency and a Torres Strait Islanders' Credit Union, 1986. Miscellaneous Magani Malu Kes papers, 1987-1988 (File 1)

Papers relating to the incorporation of Magani Malu Kes, 1987. Constitution and by-laws of Netat Urapun Buai (Torres Strait Islanders Corporation), 1987-1988. Pro-forma letters from MMK State Council to member organisations (File 2)

Minutes, Certificate of Incorporation and petition, 1987. Copy of letter to Gerry Hand, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, October 1987 (File 3)

Miscellaneous papers, 1987-1989, including minutes, agendas, press cuttings, petitions, grant applications, Memorandum of Association, correspondence with the Island Co-ordinating Council and a document entitled 'Magani Malu Kes (Qld) State Council: Background Information and Rationale' (File 4)

State Council information leaflets and application forms, 1988 (File 5)

Clippings, funding application and working briefs relating to demands for independence, 1988. Papers relating to meetings with Queensland Premier Ahern and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Gerry Hand, relating to independence, 1988 (File 6)

Miscellaneous papers, 1988, including correspondence (in particular with the Island Co-ordinating Council), a submission to the United Nations Association relating to independence, papers relating to a dispute with Roland Cantley, papers of the Torres Strait Independence Working Party Secretariat and the Annual Report of the Island Co-ordinating Council (File 7)

Miscellaneous papers, 1987-1989, including bank statements; correspondence with MMK President, Steve Mam, and others; clippings and notes of a meeting with Gerry Hand. Notice of MMK meeting with the Torres Strait Advisory Board Queensland representative, Belsa Lowah, September 1991 (File 8)

Miscellaneous papers, 1987-1988, including letters, cuttings, roneoed papers on future of Torres Strait Islands and Torres Strait Islanders' case for independence (File 9)

Magani Malu Kes State seminar, October 1987. Minutes (File 10)

Drafts of letters, forms, 1988 (File 11)

Miscellaneous papers, including notes, messages, papers concerning State Seminar, February 1988 (File 12)

Torres Strait Islanders workshop, Thursday Island, January 1988. Paper by Mabo (File 13)

Magani Malu Kes State seminar, Mackay, February 1988. Minutes, cuttings, notes (File 14)

Magani Malu Kes State seminar, Mackay, April 1988. Minutes (File 15)

Senate Select Committee on the Administration of Aboriginal Affairs (File 16)

Includes transcript of evidence, November 1988

Illustrations on transparencies (File Folio 1)

Series 15. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, 1989-1990

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) was established by Parliament in March 1990 as the Federal Government's principal agency for administering Aboriginal Affairs. It replaced the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, which had been in existence since 1972, and the Aboriginal Development Commission. ATSIC is run by an appointed Chairperson and a Board of Commissioners who are elected by Aboriginal people from zones around the country.

Papers relating to the establishment of ATSIC, 1988-90. ATSIC Townsville Regional Council election tally, November 1990 (File 1)

Copies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Bill 1988, 1989, and Second Reading Speech, August 1988, and June 1989. Federal Opposition media release and minority report by Senators Baume and Boswell, 1989, on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Bill 1988 (File 2)

Series 16. Other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander related activities, 1981-1991

Letter from Billae Laba of Boroko, Papua New Guinea (12 July 1982), with enclosures. Discusses traditional links and interactions between Papuans and Torres Strait Islanders. Aboriginal and Islanders Catholic Council Conference, Toowoomba, 1983. Copies of papers delivered at the Conference. Copy of letter to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (22 July 1985) concerning the funding freeze imposed on community worker John Echong, together with an issue of an associated newsletter (File 1)

Letter from Nonie Sharp (4 January 1985) accompanying a copy of her 'Book of Islanders', a 167-page compilation of oral traditions from the Torres Strait, which formed Appendix B of her 'Springs of Originality Among the Torres Strait Islanders', later published as Stars of Tagai (1993) (File 2)

Miscellaneous papers, 1981-1991, including correspondence regarding Mabo's participation in the 1987 ANZAAS Congress session, 'Conservation in Aboriginal and Islander Environments'; objectives of the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Action Group, 1987; papers relating to the Kubin Branch of the Torres Strait Women's Council, 1987; photocopy of 'Autobiography of Mr Wees Nawia' by Nonie Sharp, typescript, 1985; meeting notices for the Aboriginal and Islander Tenants' Association, 1989; papers relating to the Yalga-binbi Institute for Community Development, 1989; and the manuscript of a speech given by Mabo to the 1st National Torres Strait Islander Seminar 'Heritage and Culture: The Road to Recovery', Brisbane, 1991 (File 3)

Papers relating to the Aboriginal and Islander Health Service, 1988-89, including correspondence, reports, membership applications and Memorandum of Association (File 4)

Papers relating to the Thuringowa Aboriginal and Islander Community Health Centre, 1989, including rules, correspondence and submission (File 5)

Papers relating to a proposal for the incorporation of a Torres Strait Islanders Corporation for Cultural, Educational and Welfare Advancement League, 1991 (File 6)

Papers relating to the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, 1976. Black News Service, 1976. Geoff Eames. Land rights or a sell out? An analysis of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill 1976 (File 7)

Miscellaneous papers, 1984-1985, including paper by Mabo on behalf of the Torres Strait Action Committee, draft constitution of the Aboriginal Languages Association, correspondence with James Cook University of North Queensland (File 8)

Miscellaneous papers, 1979-1986, including minutes of the Torres Strait Islanders Resource Centre, certificate of incorporation of the IINA Torres Strait Islanders Corporation, memorandum of association of the Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Services Ltd, Community Worker's Newsletter, address by Susan Ryan to National Conference on Aborigines and Islanders in Higher Education (File 9)

Workshop on Traditional Knowledge of the Marine Environment in Northern Australia, Townsville, July 1985 (File 10)

Miscellaneous papers, 1986, including proposed Torres Strait Cultural Foundation and Australia Council for the Torres Strait Islanders Community Advancement, complaint to Press Council about Townsville Bulletin, notes by Mabo, affairs of Torres Strait Islanders Council (File 11)

Miscellaneous papers, 1987, including circulars, newsletters and reports of the Committee to Defend Black Rights, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, National Aboriginal Education Committee, National Aboriginal Council, Townsville Regional Aboriginal and Islander Coordinating Committee, and Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (File 12)

Copies of application of incorporation of Gelam Torres Strait Islanders Corporation, correspondence of James Sambo, cuttings on indigenous arts, 1988 (File 13)

Miscellaneous papers, 1986-1988, including Aboriginal employment development policy, Australian Bicentenary protests, copy of a letter of Kevin Gilbert (File 14)

Miscellaneous papers, 1986-1988, including program of Torres Strait Islands Ex-Servicemen Conference and speech notes at conference on tourism in Townsville (File 15)

Outline of United Torres Strait Islanders Cooperatives (File 16)

Series 17. Aboriginal Legal Aid Services, 1974-1987

In 1973 the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Legal Services (Qld) Ltd was established as a non-profit making company to provide legal assistance to people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island descent. Mabo was a director and in 1974 he became State President, but a vote of no-confidence in his presidency was carried in October 1974. For a few months in 1985 Mabo was a field officer with the Legal Aid Service in Townsville and most of the papers in this series relates to his training and work for the Service.

Various papers relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services in North Queensland, 1982-1987, including reports drafted by Mabo when he worked as a Field Officer for the Townsville Legal Aid Service, 1985' papers relating to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody; and a workshop training manual 'Criminal Law and the Police' (File 1)

Papers of Aborigines and Islanders Legal Service (Queensland), 1974, including reports, correspondence, statements of expenditure (File 2)

Papers of Aborigines and Islanders Legal Service (Queensland), 1974-1981, including correspondence, reports, minutes of meetings (File 3_4)

Papers relating to Field Officers and Community Workers In-Service Training Workshop, Townsville (File 5_6)

Field officer's car logs, September-November, 1985 (File 7)

Field officer's activity records, September-November, 1985 (File 8)

Notes of meetings with clients and related papers, October 1985 (File 9)

Papers relating to the Townsville Legal Aid Service, 1985, including correspondence, memoranda and circulars (File 10)

Miscellaneous papers, 1984-1985, including forms and circulars (File 11)

Edward Koiki Mabo at James Cook University in the early 1980s [picture]

Series 18. Printed material

Academic papers (File 1)

A.C. Haddon and C.S. Myers, 'The cult of Bomai and Malu' (File 2)

Gerald Peel, Isles of the Torres Strait, 1947 (File 3)

Gaynor M. Macdonald, Adoption and social organization among the Saibalag of Torres Strait, 1980 (thesis) (File 4)

Reports (File 5)

Printed ephemera (File 6_7)

Flyers (File 8)

Newspapers, 1979-1989 (File 9)

Newsletters, 1979-1988 (File 10_11)

Newspaper cuttings, 1975-1987 (File 12)

Loose publications (File)

Publications include M.J. Unwin, Booran; a tale of early Australia (1960), Nonie Sharp, Torres Strait Islands 1879-1979; Theme for an overview (1980), Barbara Miller, The aspirations of Aborigines living at Yarrabah in relation to local management and human rights (1986), Paul Black, Aboriginal languages of the Northern Territory(1980) issues of The Aboriginal Child at School (1983-1989), Mili Mili (1972-1975), Yeperenye Yeye(1982-1985), Mikurrunya (1982-1983), Torres News (1988), and Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on the Torres Strait Islands (1988).

Torres Strait Islands: The Last Paradise (1976) (File Folio 1)

Container List

Series File Box
1 1-6 1
1 7-9 2
2 1-5 2
2 6-14 3
2 15 4
2 Folio 1 Folio Box 2
2 Folios 2-5 Folio Box 1
3 1-8 4
3 9-18 5
4 1-8 6
4 9-16 7
4 17-18 See Folio 3 (Folio Box 2)
4 19-26 8
4 27-33 9
4 34-40 10
4 Cheque butts 11
4 Folio 1 Folio Box 3
4 Folio 2 Folio Box 3
4 Folio 3 Folio Box 2
6 1-9 12
6 10-13 13
7 1-5 13
7 6-14 14
7 15-20 15
8 1-3 15
8 4-13 16
8 14-16 17
8 1 Folio Box 2
9 1-6 17
10 1-3 18
11 1 18
12 1-5 18
13 1-8 19
13 9-17 20
13 18 21
14 1-8 21
14 9-16 22
14 Folio 1 Folio Box 2
15 1 22
15 2 23
16 1-8 23
16 9-16 24
17 1-2 24
17 3-11 25
18 1-9 26
18 10-12 27
18 Publications 27
18 Publications 28
18 Folio 1 Folio Box 2