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1h 45m Biography, Drama, History, Indigenous 2012

The remarkable life story of Eddie 'Koiki' Mabo, the Torres Strait Islander who spearheaded the High Court challenge that overthrew terra nullius.

In 1973, Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo (Jimi Bani) was shocked to discover that the land his ancestors had passed down on Murray Island in the Torres Strait for over 16 generations was not legally regarded as theirs. Rather than accept this injustice, he began an epic fight for Australian law to recognise traditional land rights. Eddie never lived to see his land returned to him, but Mabo is now a household name. In January 1992, at only 55, he died of cancer. Five months later the High Court overturned the notion of terra nullius. Mabo traces Eddie’s life – from a carefree young man of 17, through his courtship and marriage to his one true love, Bonita (Deborah Mailman), up to the handing down of the historic High Court decision on 3 June 1992.


Jim Bani (Eddie 'Koiki' Mabo) , Deborah Mailman (Bonita Mabo) , Ewen Leslie (Bryan Keon-Cohen) , Tom Budge (Greg McIntyre) , Charles Passi (Benny Mabo) , Rob Carlton (Paddy Killoran) , Colin Friels (Justice Moynihan) , Miranda Otto (Margaret White)


Rachel Perkins


Sue Smith


Darren Dale


Miranda Dear


Antony Partos


Andrew Commis





Bonus Content

Introduction Mabo


Curator of the Buwindja Collection, Gillian Moody shares what inspired her to select Mabo. She invites you to engage, explore, reflect on and Buwindja (remember) these exceptional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and stories. 

In Conversation


Gillian Moody, Curator of Buwindja, sits down with Pauline Clague, filmmaker and Associate Professor, Jumbunna, UTS, as they take a deep dive into the rich history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytelling in screen culture. They reflect on how the films in the Buwindja Collection showcase eras of change in filmmaking with fascinating insights into the dramatic shift from stories being told about First Nations peoples to Indigenous filmmakers telling their own stories. As Pauline powerfully states, it is now the case that ’Nothing about us without us’”. 

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The complete Buwindja Collection
17 items

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The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia acknowledges Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live and gives respect to their Elders both past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings and/or text.