They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them
From "For the Fallen", a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon. Translated by Professor Len Collard and spoken in Noongar at an Anzac Day service in Fremantle for the first time on 25 April 2019.
Bala yuart manjung koorliny,
Yeye ngulluckiny alla nidja nyinniny manjung woort koorliny
Manjungaliny yuart coorlyamart balung,
Manjung yuart warragarburt boordawan.
Nidja ngangk woort koorliny ngardal ngoorndeen
Boorda benang ngulluck katitj balung
They shall not grow old, Bala yuart manjung koorliny,
As we that are left grow old; Yeye ngulluckiny alla nidja nyinniny manjung woort koorliny
Age shall not weary them, Manjungaliny yuart coorlyamart balung,
nor the years condemn. Manjung yuart warragarburt boordawan.
At the going down of the sun and Nidja ngangk woort koorliny ngardal ngoorndeen
in the morning we will remember them. Boorda benang ngulluck katitj balung.
The Ode was translated into Noongar as part of this Noongarpedia project. Hear it spoken here by Professor Len Collard.
ABC Radio podcast: Translating The Ode of Remembrance into an Aboriginal language.
Unfortunately, this ode became controversial as the WA branch of the Returned and Services League (RSL) in 2020 banned the flying of the Aboriginal Flag, giving a wanjoo boodjar (welcome to country), and the saying of the Ode in anything except English at RSL Anzac Day ceremonies in WA. The ban was implemented because according to RSL WA branch chief executive John McCourt some members felt it had been inappropriate for the ode to be spoken in Noongar at the Fremantle 2019 ANZAC Day service. This was despite some Noongar having fought for Australia as ANZACs. ANZAC day was supposed to be a day of remembrance for all Australian and New Zealand veterans and war dead, including Aboriginal and Māori people. And for Aboriginal people this also includes the men, women and children killed in the Frontier Wars on their boodjar (country) in Australia, for they too died in an Australian war. Sadly, this demonstrates that in 2020 Australia is still a divided country where Aboriginal people are not accepted as part of the English speaking polity.
However, as a counterweight to the intolerance exhibited by the WA RSL, it is good to note that Australian law now recognizes that Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people have special rights. In particular, they cannot be deported for criminal convictions as they cannot be 'alien' to Australia. Coincidentally this judgement was made just before the RSL ban in WA on Aboriginal people who fought and died for their land being acknowledged in their own language.
The Ode (Te Reo / Māori)
The Ode (English)
The Ode (Te Reo) in Māori:
E kore rātou e kaumātuatia
Pēnei i a tātou kua mahue nei
E kore hoki rātou e ngoikore
Ahakoa pēhea i ngā āhuatanga o te wā
I te hekenga atu o te rā
Tae noa ki te aranga mai i te ata
Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou
Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou.
A solo haka, done by Māori David Tekona in Bunbury in 2018 as a mark of respect, was seen by then RSL WA chief executive John McCourt as 'insulting', but at least one WA Vietnam veteran supported the use of the haka at ANZAC Day ceremonies. In the context of the ban on speaking the Ode in Noongar, WA Veterans Affairs Minister Peter Tinley pointed out the strangeness of the WA RSL's approach:
|“||What is ironic is that the RSL has embraced the original first nation language of New Zealand, our Anzac partners, but somehow can't embrace the language of First Nation Australians.||”|
The response to the ban was overwhelmingly negative, with among many others WA Premier Mark McGowan, WA Governor Kim Beazley, the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, and the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney all critical of the policy. Ken Wyatt noted that the WA RSL had not taken a "proactive stance to fight for the Aboriginal servicemen who had fought alongside their members", remembering the years after World War One when indigenous soldiers were not welcome at their local RSL branches.
Following the public's response the WA RSL board will discuss this highly controversial policy at their next board meeting on 5 March 2020. It was generally acknowledged the WA RSL had created a problem which had not existed before.
It was assumed by major news sources that the ban would be overturned. However, the WA RSL ban became irrelevant as the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic caused the government to ban all public gatherings. For the 25 April 2020 ANZAC day commemorations although the traditional dawn services will be held across the country the public will be asked not to attend.
- "The Ode". Army. Retrieved 12 January 2018
- Translated by Professor Len Collard, ARC Research Fellow Indigenous School of Indigenous Studies, The University of Western Australia
- "Anzac Day in Fremantle". City of Freemantle. News & Media. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 24 February 2020
- "Translating The Ode of Remembrance into an Aboriginal language". ABC Radio Specials. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2020
- Rebecca Turner. "RSL bans Welcome to Country, Aboriginal flag at Anzac Day, Remembrance Day ceremonies in WA". ABC News. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020
- Elizabeth Byrne and Josh Robertson. "High Court rules Aboriginal people cannot be deported for criminal convictions, cannot be 'alien' to Australia". ABC News. 11 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020
- "What is Anzac Day?". NZ Army. Retrieved 21 February 2020
- Sarah Collard. "Haka's future at Anzac Day events in doubt after 'insulting' performance". ABC News. 11 May 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2020
- Hamish Hastie. "'La la land': The elder that sparked RSL welcome to country ban speaks out". Sydney Morning Herald. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 1 March 2020
- Briana Shepherd. "WA RSL backs down over ban on Aboriginal flag after public backlash". ABC News. 24 February 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2020
- Annabel Hennessy. "With Honour We Served". The Sunday Times (Western Australia). 23 February 2020. pp 6-7
- "RSLWA ban is just plain dumb". The West Australian (Weekend West). 22-23 February 2020. Editorial, p1 and p38
- Joe Spagnolo. "Boss of RSL punched to the ground". The Sunday Times (Western Australia). 23 February 2020. p 7
- "Coronavirus forces cancellation of Anzac Day services in Victoria, NSW, Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia". ABC News. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020