THE KUARNA & NARUNGGA PEOPLE AND THEIR CONNECTION TO NORWOOD PRIMARY SCHOOL
An Interview With Rob Harkin,
Principal of Norwood Primary School
Norwood Primary School is situated on the Adelaide Plains, traditional home of the Kuarna people, our school also has strong links with another aboriginal community.
I asked Rob Harkin, school principal of Norwood Primary School (situated in South Australia) what connection the Kuarna and Narungga people had to my school, he told me "In the 1950's, boys from the Point Pearce Aboriginal Mission on York Peninsula, were taken from their families by the Aboriginal Protection Board, and sent to Adelaide for schooling. They lived in the care of the Salvation Army at the Salvation Army Boys Home in Kent Town. Every day a group of boys walked together down Beulah Road to get to our school, that was quite a walk, especially considering a lot of the young boys were in callipers as a result of polio, and most did the walk at least twice a day, returning home to Kent Town for lunch."
These young boys belonged to the Narungga people whose traditional lands extend over Central and Southern York Peninsula. The Narungga people had four sacred totems - the Sea Eagle, the Shark, the Emu and the Red Kangaroo, all four animals were very important in the daily lives of the Narungga people. Rob said, "Norwood Primary School has in fact just won a community grant to build a fence panel near our entrance that depicts the four totem animals, and our schools link to Point Pearce. The Point Pearce Community elders gave us special permission to include their totem animals in this design, and i'm very proud of this".
“One of the boys”, Rob told me "has a strong connection with our school, Sidney Graham (now Reverend Sid Graham) stayed at the Boys Home in Kent Town from 1955 through to 1963, he and his brother Philip, were well know for being very athletic, Philip later becoming a league footballer. Even though Sid had to wear callipers on his legs, he was very determined, and despite his disability, competed at a Sports Day at Norwood. He was given a small head start, but ran quickly enough to win his race." This event was recently re-enacted for a documentary film that traces Sid's life, titled "Why Me ?", and parts of the film were shot at our school in January 2006, and many of our current students and teachers appeared as extras.
Sid Graham, who later became a Church Pastor, now works with communities in need, including indigenous Australians. He always remembers his links to Point Pearce and Norwood Primary School (then called Norwood Model School) and back in 2001 organised a reconciliation visit to Point Pearce for many of his school buddies. That year, with Sid as our special guest, we held a special ceremony at our school, and a plaque of remembrance was placed in the paving of the main entrance to our school. Each year since then, our Year 7 students have made visits to Point Pearce Aboriginal community to meet with them, and this year, students from Point Pearce School are going to visit our school, Rob hopes that this will become an annual event.
"One thing that the Principal of Point Pearce School noticed about the Norwood students” Rob said, “was how well and comfortably they mixed with his students, he thought this was because our school is so culturally diverse - after all we have nearly 40 different cultures represented at our school, and I find that our students are very accepting and tolerant".
Journey of Healing Plaque, Norwood Primary School
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