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Wirra says Mum was fighter and inspiration
The West Australian Margaret Wirrpanda was a true champion of her people. Supplied picture

West Coast great David Wirrpanda will remember his mother Margaret as a true champion of their people.

Margaret died on Sunday in Melbourne after a long illness.

Wirrpanda last night credited his mother, a renowned campaigner for Aboriginal rights, as the inspiration behind the WA-based foundation that bears his name.

He said she, and his grandmother Geraldine Briggs, had given him a powerful sense of culture and family, but her constant challenge for him to make his own mark in life was the reason behind him making the move to Perth as a 16-year-old.

He was at the 74-year-old's bedside with several other family members when she died peacefully more than a decade after suffering a heart attack.

He said he would always treasure being able to spend her final days by her side after making a "gut instinct" decision to stay in Melbourne last week.

"Mum really, really wanted all of her immediate family to try, in some way, shape or form, to have a massive impact on Aboriginal affairs," Wirrpanda said.

"We grew up in that arena and it was very familiar to us all, but she was a huge inspiration.

"She was my measuring point on how I could have an impact for Aboriginal people.

"To use the sporting analogy, she was the best coach I've ever had ... the pinnacle of where I eventually might want to be.

"We were very lucky to have someone like her in our lives."

In an interview in January with two of Wirrpanda's nieces, his mother said: "I just want to see everybody getting together and doing well for the future generations."

Wirrpanda said it was a statement that captured perfectly her selfless nature.

"When you look at her, she deserved a lot more in her lifetime, but she was still the happiest person I've known," he said.

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett also paid tribute to Wirrpanda's mother yesterday, describing her work for Aboriginal people as "remarkable".