HMAS Kuttabul celebrates NAIDOC Week with smoking ceremony

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Mick Wheeler (author), LSIS Kieran Dempsey (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Kuttabul, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Kuttabul, NAIDOC Week

Command Warrant Officer HMAS Kuttabul, Warrant Officer Mark Cooper, right, and Laurance Magick Dennis from Milan Dhiiyaan, left, take part in a smoking ceremony at HMAS Kuttabul during NAIDOC Week 2019. (photo: LSIS Kieran Dempsey)
Command Warrant Officer HMAS Kuttabul, Warrant Officer Mark Cooper, right, and Laurance Magick Dennis from Milan Dhiiyaan, left, take part in a smoking ceremony at HMAS Kuttabul during NAIDOC Week 2019.

An indigenous smoking ceremony at HMAS Kuttabul has taken place to mark the end of NAIDOC Week.

The smoking ceremony was conducted by Locky Magick Dennis in the company of local Aboriginal Elder Selena Blakeney before members of the ship’s company of HMAS Kuttabul, including the Commanding Officer Captain Matthew Shand.

A smoking ceremony is associated with cleansing and renewal and was a fitting end to NAIDOC Week which this year is themed ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth: Let’s work together for a shared future’.

Locky Majick Dennis commented on both the smoking ceremony and NAIDOC Week.

“The smoking ceremony is a significant ceremony,” he said.

“It can be used in many different circumstances, it is spiritual and cleansing, a letting go ceremony, a funeral and birth ceremony signifying the beginning and the end.

“NAIDOC Week and the smoking ceremony is a time to reflect on all the people that have come before us and for all of us to come together so we can move on as a nation.”

Aboriginal Elder Selena Blakeney invited all present to partake of the cleansing qualities of the smoking ceremony and to embrace the themes of NAIDOC Week.

“NAIDOC Week is a time for all of us to come together and the smoking ceremony is one way of helping us reflect on the theme of the week being ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth: Let's work together for a shared future’,” she said.

Kuttabul’s Commanding Officer, Captain Matthew Shand, acknowledged the local people and invited those present to think about both the past and the future.

“Here at Garden Island we are standing on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and I would like to pay my respect to the elders past present and future,” Captain Shand said.

“Today as part of NAIDOC Week we should recognise what has occurred in the past but similarly look forward to a shared future together.”

Attending the ceremony was Petty Officer Barry Watego who commented on the significance of NAIDOC Week to Navy.

“As an indigenous person it is great that Navy acknowledges the importance of NAIDOC Week,” he said.

“NAIDOC Week and a smoking ceremony like this creates a talking point that an indigenous person like me can take back to my community and family about what Navy does for Indigenous people.”

NAIDOC Week is held annually to recognise and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and is a celebration by Indigenous communities together with Australians of all walks of life.