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Valued Pukumani poles restored at CDU

Three traditional poles representing a Tiwi story of Creation have been revitalised 23 years after they were first erected at Charles Darwin University’s Casuarina campus.

The Pukumani poles symbolise CDU’s ongoing commitment to Indigenous education and their restoration was led by the Office of the Pro Vice Chancellor- Indigenous Leadership.

Melville Island artist Eymard Tungatalum was commissioned to restore the poles after originally creating them while studying at CDU’s predecessor, Northern Territory University, in 1993 in its Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Eymard Tungatalum at CDU with Pukumani poles

Mr Tungatalum said the poles told a traditional Tiwi story about the creation of rituals to help the dead enter the spirit world. He said each pole symbolised a character in the story, including Tapara the moon man, a man named Purukuparli, and his wife who later transforms into a curlew, named Wayai.

“I think about the old people, they come to me when I paint,” Mr Tungatalum said.

“They all passed away but their teachings are still in my mind.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership Professor Steve Larkin said the poles were moved to a new and prominent location to reflect their cultural and educational significance.

“These masterfully crafted Pukumani poles will continue to promote Indigenous history, art and culture and enhance the overall beauty of this campus,” Professor Larkin said.

“They also form an important part of CDU’s own campus history.”

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