Boat races, cultural dances and a constructed traditional village will be a part of this years' Torres Strait biennial cultural festival, The Winds of Zenadth.
Yesterday marked the start of the four-day event, taking place on Thursday Island. Running since 1987, The Winds of Zenadth ("Zenadth Kes" being the traditional name for the Torres Straits) celebrate the practice, revitalisation and preservation of Torres Strait language, culture, art and ceremony. During the 1992 festival, the Torres Strait Islander flag was first flown. This years' festival theme is, Stand Strong: Culture is our Foundation.
Yesterday a march from Anzac Park officially opened the festival, followed by a Welcome to Country given by the Traditional Owners, the Kaurareg Elders.
A major part of the festivities is the daily Ailan (meaning, "old dance"). This year, the dance competition has nine more traditional dance groups added to its program since last year, with a total of 19. The groups come from various communities across the Torres Straits.
A new historical project has been unveiled. Three traditional fishing platforms (similar to those used in the hunting of dugongs) have been erected around the Island in an effort to show what life was like pre-colonisation. A traditional village has also been completed and will serve the Island in years to come in a Torres Shire tourist hub initiative.
Torres Strait Shire Mayor Vonda Malone describes the event as, helping to promote Torres Strait culture to all Australians. "We are a proud live and living culture that should be embraced by not only us, but the rest of Australia," she told NITV.
It shows off the diversity of people in the Torres Strait, she said. Malone said that even the rivalry between dance groups demonstrate the regions diversity.
“Deep down, I mean it is certainly about showing the distinction between the communities. When you talk about the Torres Strait, we are all broken up into different communities and there are nations within the nations. So that’s going to come through very strongly over the next couple of days so I appreciate that Australia would see the Torres Strait for what it could really provide as Indigenous people of this country.”
This week, NITV will be bringing you all the action from the Winds of Zenadth festival in the Torres Strait.
The Winds of Zenadth festival runs 11 - 14 September.