Oxfam Australia is privileged to name our new head office “Ngapa” in honour of William Cooper.
On 24 March, we held a small event at our new head office on William St in West Melbourne to mark the execution of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Oxfam and representatives of the William Cooper family, to officially name the premise, “Ngapa”.
Aunty Zeta Thomson-Briggs performed the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Welcome to County and Smoking Ceremony for Ngapa and sang a beautiful Yorta Yorta Hymn, one that has been sung at Smoking Ceremonies for generations.
Smoking Ceremonies carry different meanings in different parts of the country, but on Wurundjeri land, the burning of gum leaves with members of the community represent a “cleaning” or removal of bad energy and manifestation of good energy, within a designated space.
William Cooper was a Yorta Yorta man, father, grandfather, activist, lobbyist and campaigner – one of the world’s first humanitarians and known as the original Truth Teller. Oxfam was given the privilege of naming the building “Ngapa”, which translates as “Grandfather”, and is used by Mr Cooper’s loved ones and community.
What’s in a Name?
Naming is significant. It’s a step in the truth-telling process. First Peoples hold an understanding and obligation of the physical and cultural landscape, often expressed as Connection to Country. Providing an Indigenous name for a building is a constant and necessary reminder that we all play a role in this cultural landscape and that our premises are and will always be on Aboriginal land.
Along with this privilege, we will honour the story and legacy of Mr Cooper by utilising our platform over the next 12 months to illustrate his immeasurable contributions to truth and justice, and the advancement of human rights of First Peoples in Australia.