in the nature

A Never Ending Journey

We always regarded our land at Little Swanport on Tasmania’s east coast as special, it was a playground for some of our children and grandchildren, where they explored the natural world, rode their horses, built cubby houses and helped gather the sheep that grazed there. However the more we learnt, the more people walked this country, the more we discovered and the more we realised the special significance of this land. As the years go by we must all think about secession, handing on responsibility, it can be difficult and emotional but when the land is so precious we realised there was only one option.

We have only ever seen ourselves as the custodians of this precious land, and now, remembering those who have been before us, and recognising the deep spiritual and cultural connection the Aboriginal people have to this land of lutriwita, we have asked them to be custodians for the future. Marrying twenty years ago, we always saw Wind Song as a place of healing and reconciliation at many levels. We have described it on our website as a place “where the wind, land & people sing”

We have only ever seen ourselves as the custodians of this precious land

— Tom & Jane Teniswood

Our two families – seven children and twelve grandchildren, have all been part of this journey and have embraced our decision. We see our recent gift of land to the Tasmanian Aboriginal People, through the Aboriginal Land Council, as a transfer of custodianship, and in no way a political act.

We know they will continue to walk lightly on this land. We know, because we have walked this land with many Aboriginal friends. We first walked the land with Brendon Brown (Cape Barren Island) and Sandra Higgs (Kantju woman). We know them as Bucky and Harri. We see their children, Teangi & Tooarn, as family. It was Harri who brought Uncle Ronnie & Di Summers to our land for a special Welcome to Country around our ceremonial fire pit, and it was at Wind Song that Uncle Ronnie, proud Aboriginal man and descendant of the famed warrior Mannalargenna, asked our wonderful friend, Helen Gee to help him write his life story.

It’s Elder, Aunty Eva & husband, Len Richardson, who looked after Wind Song when we have been away and it’s Aboriginal Elder Aunty Dawn Blazely who has initiated and led Peace Circles at Wind Song and who says “let our two worlds’ combine- yours and mine. The door between us is not locked –just ajar.”

Tom experienced the power of the land at a difficult time when the sale of the land seemed inevitable and Harri said to him “you don’t want to leave, the land needs you, and the land is talking to you”.

Tom and Jane Teniswood make the remarkable gesture of gifting half of their covenanted property at Little Swanport back to the Aboriginal community

This land holds secrets and mysteries as Tom discovered when walking with Uncle Ronnie Summers. They stopped at a stone circle, sat in silence for a while, and then Tom said to Ronnie “Do you think you fellows have been here before?” Ronnie reached down, and picking up a stone tool, said “I think so mate!” We now call this rock outcrop of ancient ironstone’ Uncle Ronnie’s spur.

In 2001 40 hectares of this land was granted a conservation covenant with the Australian Government because of its significant biodiversity. In November 2017 a number of staff from TMAG spent a week on this land studying and collecting flora and fauna. Gintaras Kantvilas, manager of the Herbarium, described the land as remarkable. Among the 885 specimens collected, 10 had not been identified or described previously.

For many years we have been connected to a Japanese organisation, Byakko Shinko Kai, founded by Masahisa Goi, in 1955. One of its activities is the planting of Peace Poles that display the message May Peace Prevail on Earth on each of its four or six sides, usually in different languages. There are more than 250,000 Peace Poles in 180 countries all over the world dedicated as monuments to peace. We have seven peace poles already on the land and now the Aboriginal community has asked for another pole to be planted on their land with the message in palawa kana.

We only learnt on the day of the ceremony, from Michael Mansell, the chair of the Land Council, that the land hand over coincided with the abduction of Pularilpana from the area 200 years ago.

“She was taken to the Bass Strait islands where she became the direct ancestor of many Aboriginal families who exist today,” he said.

“So this was her country. In Aboriginal way, she is our mother. The gift of land “has allowed Aboriginal people to come home to our mother’s country.”

We also learnt that one of those also abducted from Little Swanport was Tanalipunya who eventually married the chief of Tasmania’s North-Eastern tribe Manalakina (Mannalargenna), before she died in 1835.

Michael Mansell, in accepting this gift, invited us to ‘still to treat the land as your own. We are not taking the land, we are sharing the land’.
After the ceremony, Aunty Eva Richardson, said “it is like making a basket – you never know what it is going to look like but it’s the journey we are all on together.”

Graeme Gardner, CEO, Aboriginal Land Council, and now a very special friend, sent this message after the land handover ceremony. All “mina kani is nayri nina-tu, waranta takara nayri mapali” – “All I can say is thank you, It’s been good to walk together.”

Graeme, this journey is ongoing!