Kaurna people granted native title rights in Adelaide 18 years after claim

Posted March 21, 2018 16:05:43

The Kaurna people have been officially recognised as the traditional land owners for most of the Adelaide area at an emotional Federal Court hearing nearly two decades after the claim was first made.

Key points:

  • Native title agreement is the first reached for land in a capital city
  • Recognition runs from Myponga to Lower Light, and from foothills to Adelaide's coastline
  • Kaurna elder hopes ruling "paves the way" for other states

The decision was handed down in a packed court room today, 18 years after the application was first lodged in October 2000.

The recognition runs from Myponga to Lower Light and from the foothills to Adelaide's coastline, and also includes native title rights for 17 parcels of undeveloped land not under freehold.

Justice Debra Mortimer said it was a day that had been "a long time in the making".

"I am confident there are mixed emotions being experienced today. Relief, exhaustion, pride, celebration," she told the packed court room.

"To see any native title claim through to determination takes fortitude, dedication and courage on the part of the claim group.

"To see a claim lodged 18 years ago through to determination is particularly poignant and shows a special kind of fortitude."

Outside the court, Kaurna woman Katrina Karlapina said it was a wonderful day.

"An absolutely proud moment, not just for Kaurna but for Australia, this is huge," she said.

She said it has been a long time coming.

"A lot of Kaurna people haven't been here to witness this, but we've carried the baton and it's been worth it.

"Now that we're owning up to our history and deciding that we're going to share this land, we can work magic for all our children."

It is the first time a native title agreement has been reached for land in a capital city.

"South Australia has really positioned itself on the national map in terms of history and significance — it's a celebration for us all," Ms Karlapina said.

Kaurna elder Garth Agius said he hopes other states follow South Australia's lead.

"I hope that paves the way for other states as well, so they can start talking to their local Indigenous people," he said.

"We can get rid of Terra Nullius, and say we are the first peoples of the Adelaide plains, the Kaurna people."

An Indigenous Land Use Agreement will now be finalised with the State Government within the next six months.

Topics: rights, native-title, courts-and-trials, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, aboriginal, australia, sa