Song strikes a NAIDOC chord with Elders

Tweed Heads Public School students have made an impact with a song written especially For Their Elders. Kristi Pritchard-Owens reports.

Students, Elders and staff with a NAIDOC sign. Students, Elders and staff with a NAIDOC sign.
Image: Students at Tweed Heads Public School celebrated local Aboriginal Elders by writing and performing a song.

For tens of thousands of years, the Ngandowal and Minyungbal speaking people of the Bundjalung nation have been creating songs and telling stories about the land by the mouth of the Tweed River.

These first educators were the inspiration for a song written by Tweed Heads Public School teacher Ms Fiona Simpson and her class of Year 5 and 6 students.

Written and performed for the school’s Elders Day, which was part of its National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week activities, the song has struck a chord with many.

“For me, it’s about connecting community to school,” Ms Simpson said.

“It was incredibly touching. The Elders were quite emotional.”

The students wanted to incorporate local language into the song and with support from Jordyn Green, teacher and Aboriginal Education Coordinator at Tweed Heads Public School, sought advice from Bundjalung language speakers to ensure the lyrics were appropriate and respectful.

The final word in the song, bugalbeh, is one way to say ‘thank you’ in Bundjalung.

“This beautiful song brought many people in our school community to tears, especially our community Elders, who were amazed by the lyrics and delivery of the song,” Mrs Green said.

“It was truly an unforgettable morning.”

As word of the performance spread, Ms Simpson and her class were asked by other schools in the area to perform the song as part of their NAIDOC celebrations.

“The community response to our NAIDOC and Reconciliation Week events and this beautiful song is a great source of pride for our school,” principal Peter Nichols said.

“It is a privilege for us to have such highly respected Elders in our community and it is our great honour to recognise them in this way.”

Click on the link to watch the full performance.

Students and staff with local Aboriginal performers. Students and staff with local Aboriginal performers.
Image: Students also performed the song for other schools in the area.
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