No Ordinary Judgment: Mabo, the Murray Islanders' Land Case

no ordinary judgement cover

Nonie Sharp

Jan, 1996
Native Title & Land Rights
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$34.95 RRP incl. GST


This is the inside story of the Mabo case, a unique court drama where rights and interests previously unknown to Anglo-Australian law came to be recognised by the High Court of Australia.

In far north-east Australia lie the homelands of the Meriam, a dynamic seafaring, fishing and gardening people. They explained in court, often eloquently, how their 'cultural way' retains a fidelity to distinctive principles while also accommodating new ideas and techniques. In the name of Meriam law they also defended their right to land passed between generations by the spoken word. Their right to land carries with it a moral and practical responsibility to other Meriam and to the land itself. Meriam culture, often diminished in the hearing of evidence, has an original contribution to make to future Meriam, to the rest of Australia and to the world. In exploring the role of native title in the reshaping of Australian identity, some of the deeper questions of cultural diversity and self-determination are identified.

Reviews and endorsements

Nonie Sharp in her research and writing has made very valuable contributions to justice for the people of the Torres Strait by presenting to readers our values, laws such as Malo Ra Gelar (Malo's Law), our culture, our beliefs, as well as our frustrations and our hope for the future from our indigenous perspectives. Her close and sincere relationships with the Passi clan and many Torres Strait Islanders contributes to her sound understanding and interpretation of our views, our wisdom, our justice. From where she stands closely to us in the firm foundation of our God-given culture, she very capably contradicts the injustices of other cultures. To gain a more profound understanding of the Torres Strait Islanders and our way of life, I recommend others read her books.

— Reverend Dave Passi, Plaintiff, Murray Islanders' Land case

Last reviewed: 10 Jul 2020