Dhakiyarr vs the King


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2004, 56 Minutes

The descendants of a great Aboriginal leader tell an inspiring story of two laws, two cultures and two families coming to terms with the past.

The family of the great Yolngu leader Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda is searching for answers. Seventy years after his controversial murder trial and subsequent disappearance, Dhakiyarr’s body has still not been found and laid to rest. His descendants know that justice was not served. They want to restore what was denied to him: his honour.

This is their story, told in their own words. It is also the story of a clash of cultures, and of one man bravely facing the unknown.

In 1933, on Woodah Island in remote northeast Arnhem Land, Dhakiyarr speared a policeman, Constable McColl, who had chained up his wife. This was Dhakiyarr’s land and that was his law. On the advice of missionaries, he went to Darwin to explain his actions and his people’s ways to the Northern Territory Supreme Court.

Dhakiyarr vs the King journeys with the Yolngu as they re-trace his footsteps and finally come face to face with the authorities that let him down, and with the descendants of Constable McColl.

It is an inspiring story of remembrance and healing - of two laws, two cultures and two families coming to terms with the past.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and CAAMA Productions. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

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Producer: Graeme Isaac

Director: Tom Murray, Allan Collins

Featured People: Dhukal Wirrpanda, Wuyal Wirrpanda, Djambawa Marawili, Mulkun Wirrpanda, Wakuthi Marawilli, Gawaratj Munungurr, Galawarriwuy Wunnungmurra, Waka Munungurra, Ted Egan

Year: 2004

Running Time: 56 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: Australian History, Culture, Conflict and Reconciliation, English, Indigenous Studies, Legal/Justice Studies, Law and SOSE.


Thomson of Arnhem Land

SKU 200301100
Brand Film Australia

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