Murrumbidgee property returned to indigenous owners

An 88,000 hectare property has been returned to its indigenous custodians

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Chairman of the Nari Nari Tribal Council, Ian Woods said the return of Gayini to their ownership would allow them to protect their cultural heritage. Photo by Annette Ruzicka.

Chairman of the Nari Nari Tribal Council, Ian Woods said the return of Gayini to their ownership would allow them to protect their cultural heritage. Photo by Annette Ruzicka.

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Gayini, formally Nimmie-Caira, is back in the hands of the Nari Nari people.

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The 88,0000 hectare Murrumbidgee Valley property, Gayini, formally known as Nimmie-Caira, has been returned to its traditional custodians, the Nari Nari people.

Director of The Nature Conservancy, Rich Gilmore, made the announcement on Friday, saying they were extremely proud to have facilitated the official transfer of ownership from the NSW goverment to the Nari Nari people after more than 150 years.

"Gayini is now legally owned by the Nari Nari people, as it has been spiritually for 50,000 years," Mr Gilmore said.

The 19 properties that once made up Gayini were purchased by the Australian and NSW governments in 2013 as part of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

The government transferred the properties' water rights to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder as part of the Plan's recovery targets.

In 2018, after a tender process, the NSW government announced a consortium led by The Nature Conservancy and including the Nari Nari Tribal Council, the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group and The University of NSW, would undertake the ongoing management of Gayini.

The legal transfer of ownership of Gayini to the Nari Nari Tribal Council was facilitated by The Nature Conservancy late last year, with donations from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and the Wyss Campaign for Nature making up the undisclosed amount offered to the government.

Chairman of the Nari Nari Tribal Council, Ian Woods said it was fantastic news for the Nari Nari people.

"It's a good opportunity to protect our cultural heritage and land, and there's opportunity for a range of employment (for Nari Nari people) in different fields, environment, cultural heritage, water management," Mr Woods said.

The consortium led by The Nature Conservancy and including the Nari Nari Tribal Council will continue to manage Gayini.

Part of the property is managed in its natural state, while other sections are used for sustainable agriculture, including low-impact grazing and opportunistic cropping.

The Nature Conservancy believes there will be opportunities for carbon farming, education and eco-tourism at Gayini in the future.

There was a large celebration planned for last Friday to mark the transfer of ownership, however due to coronavirus the celebration has been postponed.

"We had a quiet dinner out on the property on Friday and we will arrange for the bigger celebration later on," Mr Woods said.

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