The Australian docudrama TV film Mabo portrays a battle waged by Torres Strait Islander man Eddie Koiki Mabo assist by his family and friends to overthrow the terra nullius and restore justice to indigenous people. Koiki’s yearning to ensure the land on Murray Island can be enjoyed by his children are many generations after is one of the driving forces of this narrative.
Mabo displays what family really means. Family consists of the people who support and love you, and the people you can confide in and trust. Mabo is a film that strongly suggests that family is a crucial factor in one’s life. This is shown during Koiki’s struggles when flashbacks to when he was a kid growing up on Murray Island with his adopted father Benny Mabo. Benny Mabo erected and coagulated Koiki’s connection to his land and culture as a young child, telling him that “everything on the island is his”. Without Benny, Koiki would not have founded the steadfast loyalty to his culture and community that drove him to chase the court case in the first place. Koiki remembers his father teaching him the traditional law of Mer.It was important for Koiki to be able to reflect on past experiences with family to remind him of how important the preservation of family means to him.
Koiki Mabo first spoke to Bonita NeHow while he was at the pub. Later on he met her at her cousins wedding where he embarrassed himself by accidentally shattering a bottle of rum after denying drinking heaps at the pub. Later on while working on the railroads he writes to Netta often. He apologises about his behaviour at her cousins wedding. During the early days of their relationship they write to each other constantly. Koiki visits Netta’s family. Edie and Netta get married and create a very strong bond together. At this point Koiki and Bonita start to notice the disgusting discrimination against them. Koiki cannot take it anymore and quits his job. At this moment family helps to bring out the right and wrong in each character. When Koiki mentions that they will not have any pride left Netta brings Koiki back to reality and reminds him that he has three kids, fourth on the way. She brings him to his senses and warns him if he doesn’t stop mixing with the communists she will leave him and take the kids. During these times his family draws out some of his worst characteristics, which hindered his progress at times.
A large part of Koiki’s intentions to change the law of Terra Nullius can be credited to his desire to improve the quality of children living throughout their lives so that they did not have to endure Koiki’s trials. Koiki’s blood relatives and close members of the Bier community come to his help throughout his dilemma to achieve his objectives. Throughout the film, Netta is steadfastly loyal to Koiki, her assistance range from walking with him by his side during his many protest marches and assisting him with the “black community school” which he founded to “laying out his clothes” for the twenty one years they have been married. As a loyal wife Netta has stuck with Koiki through every up and every down throughout the course of court case, any comforted him when “Killoran and the council” turned down his appeal to return to the island to visit his dying father.
While trying to pass win the land rights case it is very obvious that Koiki has made an effort to pass the values that are so significant to the community of Murray Island down to his children and continue that attribute of support, love and compassion in the Mabo bloodline. Koiki’s son displays this when he repeats Mabo’s law by memory at the dinner table. What motivated Koiki to pursue and win the legal case is his pride in his children and what he has been able to pass down and teach them. As Koiki gets older and frailer his children grow up and become a great support towards his care. They begin to notice some symptoms of cancer and continuously ask if he is “alright” and ensure that they stay as close to him as possible as his condition deteriorates. All this helps Koiki to stay as strong as he can possibly be while awaiting the verdict.
Without the overflowing support from those close, Koiki would have never been able to fulfil his visions, even though the difficulty to persevere definitely had an