Mata Mata Homelands

Mata Mata Weaving by Batumbil Burrarwanga

Mata Mata is the oldest of the Yolngu homelands in North East Arnhem land. It was established by visionary elders after the second world war. It is a place of incredible physical beauty, sacred knowledge, magic and strong culture that is 50,000 years old plus.

Mata Mata homelands is treasured by Dhuwa and Yirritja people. Its development is under the direct control of the senior members of the community. There are many places of enormous power and value to the Yolngu community in the surrounding lands.

Ironically most of the higher quality infrastructure at Mata Mata, including the air runway, was built through the support of the original balanda missionary Reverend H.U Shepherdson and the elders of the community just after WWII. In recent times it has been a challenge for elders to continue to support the homeland infrastructure. Successive governments have tried to move or encourage members to go to regional centres and towns. This has been resisted by the leaders of the community who have refused to take infrastructure or monetary bribes or incentives to assimilate into the mainstream community. The infrastructure and buildings at Mata Mata need repairs and maintenance. The current elder of the community Batumbil Burarrwanga has done an extraordinary job in raising funds to support the community in recent times. She was behind the development of the good solar power facility by bush lights. Many of the houses are solidly constructed. However outdoor kitchens, washing facilities and sewerage facilities need to be upgraded for the permanent residents and for visitors. A visitors camp site and facilities also need to be created. In addition the Mata Mata school needs to be refurbished and repaired so that children have a place to learn. Teachers who are sympathetic with the idea of two way learning: a curriculum based on traditional cultural learning and mainstream cultural learning need to be recruited as part of the long term vision.

One of the ways that you can contribute to this campaign is to come on one of the planned learning journeys to Mata Mata. It is envisioned that there will be two journeys in the wet season and three or four journeys in the dry season. For these journeys it is expected that participants will make a contribution in cash and in-kind. Schools can also book into a learning journey which is an ideal way for senior secondary students to, for example, achieve their Duke of Edinburgh award. The concept is to learn about traditional culture, learn how to live on the land, learn about traditional art practices and their meanings and to understand the imporance of homelands for Yolngu people. In doing this participants will be helping the community to remain vibrant, independent and strong.

However the most direct way of supporting Batumbil her family and the community is by a direct cash contribution. Your donations will be invested into the Mata Mata Foundation Fund this will be used for the following projects:

- the current bush toilets will be upgraded to best practice remote area facilities with proper sewerage treatment processes in accordance with Housing for Health guidelines and local knowledge. Estimated cost: $150,000 for six facilities and washing areas;

- outdoor kitchens will be created for each house with cleaning areas that are integrated into a grey water filtration system in accordance with Housing for Health guidelines Estimated cost: $50,000

- a visitors camp with toilet, washing and shower facilities will be created in accordance with Housing for Health guidelines Estimated Cost: $50,000 and

- the Mata Mata school front verandah, floorboards and general structure needs to be re-furbished and made safe Estimated Cost: $100,000

Donations of more than $5000 will be rewarded with a week's stay at Mata Mata. This would include instruction in bush foods, traditional art practices and an introduction to Yolngu philosophy, manikay (sacred songs) and rom (law).

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North East Arnhem Land
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Campaign title: 
Mata Mata