• Robe River Kuruma native title holders celebrate the decision with Justice Rangiah. (Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation.)Source: Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation.
The WA native title decision was finalised in an on-country federal court hearing this week.
Rangi Hirini

27 Apr 2018 - 11:41 AM  UPDATED 27 Apr 2018 - 11:47 AM

For the last 21 years, the Robe River Kuruma people have been fighting to reclaim their land from the West Australian government.

On Thursday, Part B of the native title determination was handed down at an on country federal court hearing at Pannawonica Hill in the Pilbara.

Traditional Owner and Chair of Kuruma Marthudunera Aboriginal Corporation, Sara Slattery, said the Kuruma community has long anticipated this decision.

“It’s a beautiful day for Kuruma people... A big thank you to our people who have passed, it's because of them that we’re here today celebrating native title recognition,” she said.

The native title claim covers 9,829 sq km in the north-west of Western Australia, with Part A of the native title determination for 4,109 sq km recognised in November 2016. The Part B determination covered the remaining 5,720 sq km. The land includes the middle Robe, the Bungaroo Valley and Buckland Ranges.

Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC) said in a statement the Robe River, which runs through the area, is culturally significant to the Kuruma people. 

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"The Robe River Kuruma word for the Robe River is Jajiwara, and it’s from this river that they draw their cultural identity. The Jajiwara is home to many sacred sites including ceremonial places, permanent pools and various creeks that feed into it.

Federal court judge Darryl Rangiah said Thursday’s on-country hearing was "an occasion to celebrate and look to the future".

“Today the Federal Court of Australia is not giving you this land. The Federal Court is recognising what you have always known to be true, that you are the owners of this land,” he said. 

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