National Gallery of Australia honours Eddie Mabo
with acquisition and blessing of 19th-century stone shark

Monday 7th July 2003

On Monday 7th July 2003, the Chairman of the Mer (Murray Island) Council, Mr Ron Day will oversee the blessing of a rare 19th-century carved stone shark at the National Gallery of Australia. The National Gallery successfully bid at an international auction last year to secure the return of the Mer (Murray Island) stone shark.

Mr Day will be joined by a group of dancers from Mer (Murray Island) who will travel especially to Canberra to perform a traditional shark dance to coincide with the blessing events. The shark clan is the most prestigious of the eight clan groups established on the Island.

The blessing ceremony will be the highlight of NAIDOC Week Celebrations in Canberra.

2002 marked the 10th anniversary of the Mabo decision and the acquisition of the stone shark pays tribute to Eddie Koiki Mabo who was born on Mer (Murray Island) and whose totem was the shark.

The blessing will take place on Monday the 7th July at 2.30pm in the James O. Fairfax Theatre at the National Gallery of Australia, Parkes ACT.

Mr Day will give a public talk about the responsibility of public institutions in the repatriation of material culture on Monday 7th July at 12.45pm in the Project Gallery where the Mer (Murray Island) stone shark is currently being exhibited in Tactility: two centuries of Indigenous objects, textiles and fibre.

For further information about the above events, please contact:

Michael Fensom-Lavender, Project Officer Public Programs +61 2 6240 6409 or
Stephen Gilchrist, Trainee Assistant Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art
+61 2 240 6651.

For the full program of NAIDOC week activities see