Musician Paul Kelly and Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika unveil a memorial for Dr M Yunupingu at Birany-Birany, North East Arnhem land. (ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)
At a remote homeland outside of Nhulunbuy, Yothu Yindi’s hit song Treaty has been remembered by the man who helped write it.
- Musician Paul Kelly has helped unveil a memorial for Yothu Yindi frontman Dr M Yunupingu
- After the unveiling, the famous song Treaty was sung
- The song’s message will today be acted upon, with the signing of an MoU surrounding the terms of a treaty
Paul Kelly was invited to a special ceremony by the late Dr M Yunupingu’s wife, Yalmay Yunupingu, to honour the musician and his contribution to the path to treaty.
There, Mr Kelly and Yothu Yindi musician, Witiyana Marika, unveiled a memorial in his name.
“It means happiness and pride, and for my family here as well,” Mr Marika said of the ceremony.
“It’s very exciting, I haven’t been back here all that time, and this is the place where we started to write Treaty,” Mr Kelly said.
Paul Kelly was himself a chart topper when his friend, the late frontman of Yothu Yindi, Dr M Yunupingu, invited him to his place of peace in north east Arnhem land in the late 1980s.
All of the original Yothu Yindi band members, including the late Dr G Yunupingu were present for the writing and jamming sessions, which resulted in five tracks for the band’s second album.
Paul Kelly participates in a traditional dance towards the memorial stone to Dr M Yunupingu. (ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)
After the formal ceremony at Birany-Birany, the famous words of the song Treaty were sung on the homeland once again with renewed purpose and hope.
Dr M Yunupingu’s widow, Yalmay Yunupingu was hopeful the Treaty song’s message would finally be realised.
“We’re commemorating the powerful legacy he left behind,” Ms Yunupignu said.
“Birany-Birany is the birthplace of Treaty, and we’re saluting that message.”
Renewed push for treaty
While it’s been thirty years since the chorus of the hit song was first penned, only now is its message being acted upon.
At the Barunga Festival, the Chief Minister and representatives of the four land councils will sign a memorandum of understanding, to work together on the terms of a Treaty with the Northern Territory Government.
“I can stand now at this place and say there will be a Treaty between the Government and our first people, should they desire it to be so,” NT Chief Minister, Michael Gunner said at Birany-Birany.
“I’m looking forward to signing that MOU with the land councils, about having treaties in the Northern Territory.
“We know we want a treaty — the difficulty is how do you go from where we are to making it real.
“I believe it’s possible to do it without the Commonwealth. We’re looking at what we can do between the Territory Government and the local people on the ground.”
Witiyana Marika takes the mic to sing Treaty at a commemoration ceremony to the late Dr M Yunupingu. (ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)
Paul Kelly performs the song Treaty with a reformed Yothu Yindi. (ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)