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Merepah People returning to Country Moompa-Awu Aboriginal Corporation

By Robyn May, Communications Officer, Cape York NRM

Marilyn Kepple was born in Cairns and grew up in Coen, where she has lived for 30+ years. Marilyn’s family connection to Coen is through the Wik Iiyeny (iiyeny) - also referred to as Mungkanhu which is the language group for the area - and formerly recognised as Wik Mungkan people.

Marilyn’s family was removed from Merepah (sometimes spelled ‘Meripah’) in the mid-1900s and relocated to Coen. Merepah is located 90 kilometres north-west of Coen, accessed by road and crossing of the Coen River.

In September 2016, Moompa-Awu Aboriginal Corporation became incorporated after many family consultations and talks – their vision being to return to their homeland, ‘Merepah’.

“I was honoured to be re-elected as Chairperson for Moompa-Awu Aboriginal Corporation. Merepah is very special to our people and I’m looking forward to living back out on Country” Marilyn said.

“There are both flora and fauna species of great significance living at Merepah and we plan to rejuvenate the ecosystems to encourage their continued existence” she said. “The organisation’s hopes and dreams for the future are to live and work on, and to take care of, Country.”

More short-term goals are working towards improved governance, with guidance from the Indigenous Land Corporation, and creating a Healthy Country Plan with the assistance of the Centre for Appropriate Technology.

“Our Healthy Country Plan includes caring for our natural environment, and the bringing of people together to share knowledge and identify the most important conservation topics and opportunities. The inclusion of issues like Indigenous social and cultural values, and the use of language, tools and appropriate facilitation processes are very important” Marilyn said. 

In the future, Moompa-Awu Aboriginal Corporation hopes to partner with Cape York NRM on projects such as IT development. Weed and feral animal control is also an important undertaking to ensure a healthy ecosystem to support flora and fauna endemic to the region.

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