Rita Metzenrath

Senior Collections Officer

Rita Metzenrath is the Senior Collections Officer at AIATSIS and has had previous roles as the Reference Librarian. Rita has a particular interest in Indigenous Astronomy, Indigenous military service and the cultures of the Torres Straits.

Blog posts by this author

AIAS.015.CS-000081131 - Painted dancers performing the first dance in a Bunggul performance

Treaty - Yothu Yindi


12 Jul 2019

This blog post reflects on how the repatriation of sound recordings from the Waterman Collection, held in the AIATSIS Collection, inspired the creation of this classic song. ‘Treaty’ was a worldwide hit and was the first song by a mainly Aboriginal...

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Nganapurru malngmarama balandanha runungura baman

War ServiceHistoryIndigenous Australian LanguagesCollection

23 Apr 2019

"We found a white man on an island long ago" A first-hand account of the rescue of U.S Air Force Flight Lieutenant Clarence Sanford on 14th March 1942 by Rirratjingu clan leader Wandjuk Marika and his two fathers, Waninya and Milirrma* is told in...

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A Rare Pine Needle and Raffia Mat by Marilyne Nicholls

A Rare Pine Needle & Raffia Mat by Marilyne Nicholls

ArtMaterial cultureCollection

16 Nov 2018

In 2016, AIATSIS acquired a tiny woven object only 16cm in diameter for our Art and Object Collection. Its small size belies the complex story behind its creation. Swan Hill Tower Hill Pine Trees Mat, 2016, Marilyne Nicholls. ATS 1055...

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Postcard sent by Private Daniel ‘Dan’ Cooper to his sister Sally Russell – ‘to my dear sister’, 1917, Jackomos Collection, JACKOMOS.A03.CS-000110193.

Remembrance Day 2018

War ServiceIndigenous Australians: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleBlack DiggersCollection

11 Nov 2018

AIATSIS pays our respects to Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders who served and died in all wars. Each year on the 11th November Australians observe one minute’s silence at 11am, in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and...

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 Torres Strait Island Cultural Festival 1989 - Photographs and film from The Ephraim Bani Collection

Torres Strait Island Cultural Festival 1989 - Photographs and film from The Ephraim Bani Collection

Torres Strait Islander cultureTorres Strait IslandsDanceCulture

16 Oct 2018

“…our only security is our cultural knowledge that we must carry with us and live by to pass it on to our children and they to their children, so that in the distant future we will still be proven owners of our homeland Zenadth Kes and with cultural...

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Aboriginal Personal Stories of Life in South Australian Homes, Orphanages: The story of Veronica Brodie

Stolen GenerationsOral historyNational Apology

21 Sep 2018

Please note that this blog contains the images and voice of someone who has passed away. This post is dedicated to the thousands of stolen children who have come home, or are still searching, or sadly, for those who never found their way home…...

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Portrait of Marau with ceremonial drums

Warupaw uu (The Echo of the Drums)

MusicTorres Strait Islander culture

3 Aug 2018

You are listening to the echo of the drums, connecting you across the bridge in time… This is warupa uu “the echo of the drums…” (Ephraim Bani in Gab Titui Cultural Centre 2011) The drum has been used in sacred and secular music...

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Set designs for the Prologue and Act I, Scene 1, Artist and Set Designer: Gary Lee,  pen and ink, MS 5025, Series 3, Item 3, pg 2

A Larrakia - Filipino Love Story


27 Jul 2018

Poster, Keep him my heart: a Larrakia-Filipino love story, a play by Gary Lee, Darwin High School Tank, August 1993. Designer: Gary Lee, MS 5025, Series 3, Item 4 (Photo 1) The Gary Lee collection: ephemera 1991-2012  contains a number of...

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Pencil drawing of Ceduna Fun Fair layout

Fight for Life: The Father Dixon and the Stuart Case Papers


14 May 2018

Ave Maria or Hail Mary in Arrernte, MS 3764 Series 5, Item 6 On 10 May 1959, Catholic priest Father Tom Dixon visited Arrernte man Rupert Max Stuart at the Adelaide gaol with the expectation of preparing the prisoner for execution 12 days later...

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Sea of Hands

From Art Petition to the People's Movement for Reconciliation

ActivistsCollectionWik caseSeaofHandsPetitionsReconciliation

10 Nov 2017

On 12 October 1997, Australia awoke to the biggest art petition the nation had ever seen. Assembled on the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra were thousands of plastic hands bearing the names of individual Australians that had signed the Citizens’...

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The Bennelong Letter

The Bennelong Letter – Voice of a Wangal Diplomat

CollectionArchives and archivingLanguageHistory

21 Aug 2017

The AIATSIS Collection holds a very precious copy of what is considered to be the first known use of written English by an Aboriginal Australian. It is a copy of what is known as the 'Bennelong Letter' and represents a seminal work in Australian...

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Etching by Gustav Muetzel after Blandowski, Haddon Library, Cambridge.

The AFL's Aboriginal Origins


26 May 2017

“In playing a game at ball which they kicked about - the different totems present two different sides and there were men and women on each side eg Garchuka men and women against Wurant men and women. Johnny remembers that he, his mother, and her mother...

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Laying wreaths to commemorate those killed in Frontier Wars

Protecting Country, Serving Nation

War ServiceCeremoniesFrontier conflictNew ZealandANZAC DayBlack Diggers

5 May 2017

In a tranquil and reflective bush setting on the slopes of Mount Ainslie just behind the massive Byzantine Revival style of the Australian War Memorial is a small plaque on a lichen covered rock outcrop which reads: "Remembering the Aboriginal...

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