:: Gurindji Journey ::
Book Launch Speech - John Maynard
As a Worimi man I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians and their ancestral lands and our elders past and present.
I am very honoured to have been asked to say a few words tonight and share the stage with Yuki with the launch of Gurindji Journey by Mino Hokari.
Mino was someone I hold in the highest regard as both a friend and a scholar. I think of him often. He was taken from us far too early and I think of what might have been but as this book clearly shows he has left us an incredible rich resource. For me the book is like having a good friend back in close proximity. I can hear Mino speak and laugh, like one could almost reach out and touch him. I remember him telling me that he wrote to ten Aboriginal communities and only one made reply in the affirmative, the Gurindji. He was adamant that it was meant to be. The book is challenging, innovative and will make people think outside the box. Reading this book will take you on a journey with Mino Hokari to Gurindji country. You will sit down on the ground with Mino and his mentor ‘Old Jimmy’ and learn history ‘right way’.
I met Mino in the late 90s and we struck up a friendship. If I were in Canberra we would meet for lunch or dinner. I enjoyed his company and intellect. People have said to me that it must have been Mino’s cultural background that provided him with such insight. That simplifies the reality. It does not recognise Mino as a person. He was quite exceptional. It was his personality and the way he carried himself. Whilst working with Aboriginal people he worked and communicated with great respect, patience, he was quite and had a great capacity to listen. All of those attributes are essential when working with Aboriginal people and communities. He worked that way naturally.
I still remember the day when Professor John Lester (Director) came running into Umulliko the Indigenous Research Centre at the University of Newcastle declaring that he had been a reader for a journal article and it was the best thing he had ever read - written by a Japanese guy Mino Hokari ! He threw a copy across to Nerida Blair and myself the other staff members at the time. I glanced at it and said I have already read it. John was puzzled and I said Mino is a friend. John quickly said “can you bring him to Newcastle I would love him to speak to our students”. I said no problem. Mino came up and our RHD students loved him. He was presented with an umulliko hat and shirt and his grin nearly split his face in two. That night a friend of mine who was frequently moving house had a party at a new address. Typical urban blackfella party, music, guitars, some light refreshments and lots of laughter, songs and jokes. Mino slept on the floor of my campervan and when we awoke the next morning he said “John I had the best night’ my reply was along the lines of ‘fill me in on events later”.
I have no hesitation in saying that I believe this book will become a classic and much sort after by students and academics alike. Mino if he were here would be so excited to see it in print and his smile beaming. Through his work his memory will live on and this is not the end but the beginning. Thankyou.
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