Two-year-old NT dancers steal the show

Greg Roberts
Darwin's traditional Australia Day ute run will continue in 2020, with around 400 vehicles expected

A couple of two-year-old Aboriginal boys have stolen the show at an indigenous event in Darwin on Australia Day.

Joseph Burke and Nicholas Jorrock delighted a crowd of a few hundred people as they performed in traditional dress and paint with adolescent and adult Larrakia Nation Dancers.

The 26 January 2020: Always Was, Always Will Be event recognising indigenous peoples' presence in Australia has extra significance in the Northern Territory where more than one in four people are Aboriginal, the highest proportion in the nation .

"We as indigenous people celebrate because we are the first nation of this country, keeping our culture and knowledge strong," said Lynette Fejo, the grandmother of two-year-old Joseph and an artist who also runs the Larrakia dancers.

"Any race is welcome here, so we can teach them where we been taught off our parents, it runs through the line.

"We have to show our culture, knowledge to keep it strong because if we don't it's going be wiped out in the long run, that's why we're teaching our little ones today when us older ones are gone, they've got the message."

Indigenous Larrakia elder, artist and activist June Mills had an angry message about what Australia Day represents for her.

"1788 was when it began, the families will tell you the truth: this land our people were colonised by murderous thugs, thieving thugs, people with no honour, with no law, with no integrity," she told a crowd of indigenous and non-indigenous people.

At Darwin council's annual Australia Day flag raising and citizenship ceremony, 75 people from 26 countries became citizens.

Jefersonia Moniz, 20, said it had been a long wait to become a citizen more than seven years after moving to Darwin to be with her mother after her father died in East Timor.

"I feel really good, it is something that I have been wanting to happen for a long time, there are more opportunities with school and stuff, it is really good in Darwin," Ms Moniz told AAP.

At the citizenship ceremony was former NT Administrator, Supreme Court chief justice and RAAF World War II veteran the 94-year-old Austin Asche.

"What's even better is to know that here in our community, they will be accepted immediately, we are the most tolerant and non-racist city in the world, we can teach a lot of other people in a lot of other places," he said.