NAIDOC at Taree High - Aboriginal resource centre opened

IN A fitting end to the school's NAIDOC celebrations, Taree High School's brand new Aboriginal resource centre 'Ngarralbaa' was officially opened on Thursday afternoon.

With special guests including several Biripi elders, member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead and other community members, staff and students were pleased to finally unveil the new space that will be a cultural learning space for students, staff and the wider community.

Principal Allison Alliston said it was a significant day for the school and the community.

"This will be a special place in the hearts and minds of everyone at Taree High School," she said.

"Twenty five years ago Aboriginal parents associated with the school recognised that we needed a dedicated place at Taree High for our indigenous students, a place they could go, yarn, learn and come together.

"The old 'Koori Room' was established because of the commitment and hard work of these people and over the last few years it's become quite run down, it leaks and there's mould growing, but there was no way we were going to let that go without getting something back in its place."

Since Taree High School has become one of 15 'connected communities' schools in Australia, the push for the resource centre grew and what was unveiled was a fanastic, permanent space for all students, staff and community members that continues on the legacy left by the original room.

"This is not just for the school, it's open to the community too. We want everyone to feel welcome here," added Allison.

The centre is a modern facility that's warm and inviting and features strong cultural themes, as well as pieces of the original Koori room that paved the way for this space.

A highlight of the official opening was the use of the Gathang language throughout the ceremony and it is hoped that the centre will allow more people to learn the traditional language of the Birpi people.

Elders Dave Russell and Melva Clarke cut the ribbon to officially open the centre, but not before 'Elder in Residence' at Taree High School, Russell Saunders unveiled the stunning doorway that he had painted.

Russell spoke about his pride in painting the door to a centre that will mean so much to the school and the community.

"The school has changed so much since I came here," he said.

"And it's because we're all growing together, working together, embracing our people and our culture.

"It's great to see the opportunities available to students these days and to have a place like this, it's amazing."

The ceremony then spilled inside the centre for people to see the space for themselves.

Aptly named 'Ngarralbaa', Jay Davis explained the Gathang language committee had approved the name, meaning "Knowing, Listening and Learning" space.