It certainly has been a busy period for Riawunna staff as we have navigated this move over the last 10 months, that has included archiving and sorting out historical papers, reports, photos, and other paraphernalia, as well as moving furniture and offices.
After having a presence at Newnham for over 30 years it was important, we gave the old Newnham site a significant and cultural farewell.
To mark this special, and for some, a sad occasion, Riawunna organised a Connections and Reflections of Riawunna Newnham Farewell gathering at the old site, around the fire pit and ceremony area.
This was a wonderful gathering of connections, reflections, stories, and experiences from the 70 people who were in attendance, that included many people who had not seen each other for many years.
A special occasion of this event was Sammy Howard, who lit the very first fire at Riawunna Newnham over 30 years ago, and who lit the very last fire at this final event.
At the conclusion of the gathering, and after the fire was discarded, the ashes from the final fire at Newnham, was gathered, and will be used culturally appropriately, for the lighting of the very first fire at Riawunna Inveresk, where Riawunna will officiate the official UTAS Welcoming event.
Respected Elders Aunty Lola and Rex Greeno, who have supported Riawunna for a very long time, will have the honour of lighting the fire.
Riawunna are now residing at Inveresk, and are in the Rivers Edge Building, ground floor overlooking the Kanamaluka River Tamar.
Outside the new Riawunna space is a beautiful landscape with a major feature being the Riawunna Garden that has native plants, a performing and ceremony space that includes a fire pit, and Aboriginal art works that has been overseen and created by two of the local Aboriginal community’s cultural knowledge holders, Lynne, and Genie.
Lynne and Genie worked tirelessly, and were committed in the design of screens, seating, shades, and artworks, and have developed a beautiful cultural garden, and along with an array of special guardian stones that have been strategically placed around the Inveresk president, it is a wonderful cultural aspect of the University of Tasmania.
For Aboriginal people, everything in the landscape has significance – land and waterways, plants and animals, cultural learnings, cultural activities and cultural uses – as mentioned, the Riawunna garden also includes a fire pit surrounded by sand for song, dance and ceremony – because of deep connection with the landscape, Aboriginal people need access to these culturally significant places – the Riawunna Garden at Rivers Edge is a special place, and we thank our cultural knowledge holders in Lynne and Genie for their cultural knowledges and expertise in establishing this beautiful cultural element for Riawunna and the University of Tasmania.
Head of Services for Riawunna Centre for Education University of Tasmania