THORNBURY Primary School students have respun ancient Wurundjeri stories in the Woiwurrung language into a new app to entertain and educate the digital generation.
With support from Wurundjeri Council elders, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages project officer and Koorie educator Phil Cooper, Woiwurrung language specialist Mandy Nicholson and digital media technicians from New Zealand, 15 indigenous students from the school illustrated and recorded three stories in both Woiwurrung and English.
The three digital stories were launched at an assembly at the school last week and are freely available as downloads at the App Store.
Mr Cooper said he and the children were excited the new app would for the first time give anyone anywhere in the world access to traditional Wurundjeri stories and Woiwurrung language.
“These are wonderful stories and this is a great way to strengthen the reclamation of local Aboriginal language,” he said.
The students used language, art and technology to tell the stories Balayang Wurrgarrabil-ut (Why Bats are Black), Dulaiwurrung Mungka-nj-bulanj (How the Platypus was Made) and Gurrborra Nguba-nj Ngabun Baanj (Why the Koala Doesn’t Drink Water).
Grade 3/4 student James, 9, said he worked on the story about Why the Koala Doesn’t Drink Water.
He explained that the koala (Gurrborra in Woiwurrung language) was punished by Bunjil the eagle (the creator) after the bear climbed up the tree with the Wurundjeri tribe’s water bowls and then threw them at them when they tried to follow him.
James said it was easy for people using the apps to read the story in English and then substitute the Woiwurrung words and learn them.
He said his mother had told him his family was Wurundjeri, so it was important to him to learn the language and encourage other people to use it as well.
“This means more people get to learn and the Aboriginal ancestors won’t fade away,” he said.
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- Julia Irwin