Project Description

July 2013 – Irwarpaup ft. Tamyok – “Small Island Big Fight”

‘Small Island, Big Fight’ was written, recorded and shot in a period of just four days with young people from Murray Island, TSI as part of the Song Nation 2013 storytelling tour of Australia & Torres Strait Islands.

Murray Island (known by the local people as Mer) is a small volcanic island, situated in the eastern section of Torres Strait, near the Great Barrier Reef. Mer is home to the Meriam people and the local people have a strong cultural connection and a wide reputation as fierce warriors and skilled mariners.

Mer is the traditional home of Koiki Mabo — a Meriam man and activist, who led the first successful Native Title claim on Mer Island in 1981. This song was written, recorded and filmed over 6 days in July 2013 and co-directed by close friend Gail Mabo — Koiki Mabo’s daughter.

A partnership project with Tagai State College, Murray Island Campus — ‘Small Island, Big Fight’ was written in collaboration with school students and features talented local hip-hop artist Tamyok, and co-directed by Gail Mabo.

This song is dedicated to Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo, to his family and to all of the Meriam tribal groups. A tribute to the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights in the region, and a celebration of Meriam culture — past, present and future.

Thanks to Aunty Gail Mabo, Paul Kuronya & Tagai State College, Frank Nagai, Joey Tapau Murray.

We pay our respects to the Meriam people – traditional owners of the country upon which this story was told.

*Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that photographs/videos may contain images of deceased persons, which may cause sadness or distress.

STARRING

Tristen Passi
Azaliah Salee
Swana Salee
Ray Noah
Cathy Marou
Lillah Passi
Raffi Wailu
Anai Ghee
Marcus Kudub
Tagai Tapau-Bon
Teonii Atkin
Norm Marou
Taiku Wailu
Tomasina Bon
Gagee Barsa
McFarlane Noah
Way Day
Edward Noah
April Tabo
Cabaan Salee
Mary Bon
Helen Dick
Ariel Tapim

LYRICS

We wrote you a rhyme about way before time
When Gelam created my island.
He sailed the seas on a strong sager breeze
and created a song out of silence

Two islands combined – this island of mine
A paradise lost in the sea.
Malo created the lore and the clans
and the totem that belongs to me

The creatures that fly – the birds in the sky
The fishes that dive on the reef
My people – my blood – this island – I love
My spirit – my soul – my belief

Warrior nation zogo le (warrior) defend
Respect the Meriam clans. Understand?
Tag Maukie Maukie
(Hands shall not touch another man’s land)
Teter Maukie Maukie
(Feet shall not touch another man’s land)
(Hooh!)

Small island, big fight! (yeh)
Small island, big fight! (yeh)

My spirit — my soul
My island — my fight
My land — my right

Small island, big fight! (yeh)
Small island, big fight! (yeh)

Since beginning begun – my roots, my clan
My straight up – island way
The warriors fought on the sand, in the sun
and I speak recognition today

1981 – a Meriam man lodged a claim to say
Mabo and others and sisters and brothers
and mothers would ignite the flame
The flame would burn, the world would learn,
You can’t take my island away

Tag Maukie Maukie
(Hands shall not touch another man’s land)
Teter, Maukie Maukie
(Feet shall not touch another man’s land)
The spirits protecting his grave

We dream to succeed, achieve, believe!
The futures right in front of me
Now is the time for my island to shine
A paradise lost in the sea

From person to person for ages to come –
From Koiki my legacy be
My island, my dream
The future is you and it’s me

Small island, big fight! (yeh)
Small island, big fight! (yeh)

My spirit — my soul
My island — my fight
My land — my right

Small island, big fight! (yeh)
Small island, big fight! (yeh

Frank Nagai — Co-Writer/ Performer
Toby Finlayson – Director/ Co-Writer/ Cinematographer/ Editor
Joel Westlake — Composer /Music Director/ Co-Writer
Gail Mabo — Co-Director/ Choreographer/ Cultural Consultant
David Nicholas — Audio Mixing