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Winds of Zenadth festival highlights culture

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THURSDAY Island has put on a spectacular display of Torres Strait Islander culture for the Winds of Zenadth festival.

The theme this year, selected by the Indigenous Advisory Committee, was “One Mat, Many Patterns” which signifies, reflects and acknowledges the many distinct cultures and people that make up the region of Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait).

The festival kicked off on Thursday with a Welcome to Country from Kaurareg Elder Uncle Saila Savage followed by several electrifying performances.

On the lineup were: the Torres Strait Rangers Dance Team, Guiga Ahdan Dance Team, Poeypiyam Boigu Island Dance Team, the local Eip Karem Beizam Dance Team and the young Badu Island Island Stars Dance Team.

Friday was declared a Cultural Festival Holiday in the region and many families, tourists and visitors gathered under the cool shade of Anzac Park trees to watch more traditional dancing and enjoy other live entertainment.

Attendees were also treated to a smorgasbord of traditional foods, sweets, artefacts, art and jewellery from stall-holders.

MC Gabriel Bani took a moment to reflect on how the festival has evolved since the first Winds Of Zenadth organised by his late father, Cultural Elder and linguist, Adhi Ephraim Bani.

There were speeches from leaders in the region including Torres Shire mayor Vonda Malone, TSIRC mayor Philemon Mosby and TSRA chair Pedro Stephen.

Torres Shire CEO Dalassa Yorkston said she was heartened by the vibrant atmosphere of this year’s festival despite the difficulties of dealing with the pandemic.

“I loved every minute I was on the festival ground, people were engaging, there was happiness felt and seen on every face,” she said.

“Once again, this festival was special, it was important, and it was heart-warming.

“It may have been limited to only a two-day festival, but reached deep into our hearts as the sounds of the warup (island drum) and trum/luumoot, combined with our songs, bought joyful tears to all who attended.

“It was a wonderful blessing to have our Elders be a part of the festival and council wishes to express our sincere thanks to the Star of the Sea Elders Village and to our local families for making it possible for their attendance.”

Ms Yorkston also praised the success of vaccination efforts in the community and said the high vaccination rate was crucial to the festival going ahead this year.

“The COVID-19 vaccination uptake in the Torres Strait was pleasing, and as it reached 74 percent on Thursday Island, we felt assured of the festival continuing.”

The Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival return next year from May 29 until June 3.

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