Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation Community Support | About
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Find the community support you deserve

Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation was incorporated on 6 October 2006 under the Corporation (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) Act 2006. It was established to represent the interests of the Kunapa clan group, who are the clan group recognised as traditional owners under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) and as native title parties under the Native Title Act 1993. The Kunapa area of influence is in relation to certain lands and waters in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory.


The Directors of Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation are all Kunapa people who are recognised as the senior custodians and decision makers for Kunapa land. Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation now assumes the tasks of representing the Kunapa people in terms of their future.



The vision of the Directors and members of Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation is to create a liveable and sustainable future on their own lands, for their own people; to build on the courage and strength of their fathers and mothers, their grandparents and their ancestors who maintained and nurtured the lives, the ceremonies and the land of Kunapa people in hard and difficult times between 1900 and today.


Our vision is one of living full lives in a modern context, drawing from the strength of Kunapa ceremonial and hereditary links to land, culture and ceremony; the land now owned under the Land Rights Act, the land that is recognised under the Native Title Act. The Directors wish to create a future where their children enjoy the best of the modern Australian nation whilst retaining their unique identity and cultural standing as Kunapa people.


To do this, they seek to use their land and its resources, as well as the human resources of the current generation of Kunapa people, as the drivers of business development, job creation and income security for their group. They seek to play a strong and sustained role in the local economy and create jobs and income within that economy.


A range of strategies and projects has been developed in an effort to build the foundation of such a vision. These strategies will be detailed in this business plan along with the range of projects that Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation has initiated in its effort to create sustainable jobs and income for its members and other Aboriginal people in the Barkly region.


Significant time, energy and resources have been put into governance and creating a working, corporate environment where the vision of the group can be successfully acted upon.


– Graeme Smith, CEO



The following timeline depicts the Warumungu since European contact and the development of the Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation, from as early as the 19 century, right up to the present day.



1860-1986  Conflict encapsulation displacement and the beginning of recovery.

1860  John McDouall Stuart, the first non-Aboriginal person to enter the area, was turned back at a place he called Attack Creek by a large group of armed Warumungu.

1870-71  The first pastroalists arrive and there is further conflict including killings at Attack Creek and Powell Creek.

1872  A telegraph repeater station is established at Tennant Creek at Jurnkurakurr, one of the most important dreaming sites.

1874  Kaytetye attack Barrow Creek telegraph station to the south, killing two. Punitive reprisal parties take a high death toll on Warumungu, Kaytetye, Anmatyerre, Alyawarre and Warlpiri people.

1878  The first ‘overlander’, Nat Buchanan, crosses the Barkly Tableland with 1200 head of cattle. Almost all of the land was already taken up by pastoral leases though many were not stocked until the 1880s.

1892  150 sq. miles east of Tennant Creek is gazetted as Warumungu Reserve.


1901  Spencer and Gillen record the flourishing ceremonial life of a well-fed,
healthy people.

1910-40  A second wave of pastoral expansion in Warumungu territory takes up the remaining good land.

1913  Wolfram is found at Hatches Creek.

1915  Chief Inspector of Aboriginals reports 100 people camped near Tennant Creek to be in a state of semi-starvation.

1932  Gold is discovered, triggering a gold rush to Tennant Creek

1934  W.E.H. Stanner reports the Warumungu in a sorry state, receiving inadequate rations and cut off from traditional hunting grounds. They are scattered over a wide area and cattle are being grazed on the Warumungu land reserve, competing for water and feed in the driest ‘wet’ for 60 years. Mining also encroached and a new reserve, with no permanent water is gazetted. 80-90% of the new reserve is spinifex desert.

1943  Warumungu are moved to 6 Mile Depot, an Australian Inland Mission further west. The 6 Mile Depot is abandoned within two years due to lack of water.

1952  Native Affairs takes over Phillip Creek from AIM and part Aboriginal children are forcibly removed.

1954  The Warumungu are moved to a new settlement at Warrabri, on Kaytetye and Alyawarre country. The mix of tribal groups causes lasting conflict and many Warumungu drift back to Tennant Creek.

1962  The original reserve is formally revoked and there isn’t a token reserve for Warumungu to return to.

1977  Warumungu and Alyawarre walk off Kurundi Station in protest over conditions living there and establish themselves on the claim area.

1978  The Warumungu Land Claim is lodged over the few remaining traditional lands. The NT Government extends the Tennant Creek town boundaries to 30 times their current size, and then reduces them to 240 sq. kms.

1982  NT Government secretly alienates 9 of the 12 areas of the claim. Land
Commissioner, Sir W. Kearney begins examining the claim and accepts the traditional landowners offer not to include areas required for the abattoir, hobby farms and golf club. Commissioner Kearney rules he has no jurisdiction over the 9 areas secretly alienated. The claimants appeal to the High Court.

1983  The High Court hears the appeal.

1984  High Court rules that the secret alienations do not prevent the claim going ahead.

Mar 1985  A new hearing begins under Justice Michael Maurice.

Sep 1985  Aboriginal claimants respond to call by Commissioner for a compromise solution for the claim area adjoining the Tennant Creek town area.

Oct 1985  NT Government appeals to the Federal Court for access to sources for claim documents.

Nov 1985  NT Government rejects two of three basic principles in a compromise offer but requests further details.

Feb 1986  Full Federal Court hears the NT Government’s appeal for access to documents.

Mar 1986  NT Government loses Federal Court appeal.

27 Mar 1986  Justice Maurice rules he has jurisdiction to hear the claim over areas included in the town boundary areas extended after the claim was lodged.

Apr 1986  NT Government appeals to Federal Court against Maurice’s ruling that the town boundary extension does not cancel the claim in that area.

July 1986  NT Government issues a writ to prohibit Justice Maurice from considering stock route/reserves as part of the claim an appeal is made to the High Court against the Federal Court’s ruling on access to documents.

Aug 1986  NT Government acquires land from Tennant Creek pastoral lease, including the Old Telegraph Station and two important sacred sites, and grants a lease to a governmentcreated Land Corporation.

Oct 1986  NT Government appeals against ‘errors’ (miss-descriptions) in the original land claim application.

Nov 1986  NT Government’s appeal against ‘errors’ is dismissed. NT takes its appeal to the Federal Court. Meanwhile, the Federal Court dismissed the NT Government’s appeal against Justice Maurice’s ruling that the claim can proceed within the new town boundaries.

Dec 1986  NT Government appeals to the Full Federal Court against the town boundaries decision. The High Court dismisses the Government’s appeal over the Full Federal Court’s decisions to refuse access to the source documents.

Jan 1987  NT Government still unwilling to consider terms of compromise offer by claimants.

Feb 1987  Full Federal Court hears appeal and decides in favour of Justice Maurice. The NT Government accepts the Federal court’s decision.

Mar 1987  Justice Maurice publicly expresses frustration at the lack of progress on the compromise offer. NT Government applies to Justice Maurice to disqualify himself from the Land Claim. Justice Maurice declines. NT Government appeals to the Full Federal Court.

Apr 1987  Full Federal Courts hears appeal and decides in favour of Justice Maurice. The NT Government accepts the Federal Court’s decision.

July 1988  Justice Maurice reports on his recommendations. Aboriginal Land
Commissioner, Justice Olney handed down his report titled: Warumungu Land Claim Commissioner’s Report recommending the granting of land known as the South Barkly Stock Route running through Rockhampton Downs and Brunchilly Stations.

May 1991  The first part of the Warumungu land claim is handed back – 2852 sq. kms or less than half of the land recommended for grant. The hand back is made possible by the acceptance by the NT Government of a compromise offer on land near the town.

Dec 1992  Title to 3,090 sq. kms of the claim recommended for grant handed back at Kurraya outstation east of Tennant Creek.


2003-04  Mebo Holdings sell Bank Banka/Brunchilly to S. Kidman & Co.

2004  Groote Eylandt Mining Company Pty Ltd, and representatives of the
Kunapa/Kurininja/Mangirriji/Jalajirrpa/Yapa Yapa and Pirrija and the Northern Land Council sign an agreement for a propsed grant of a mining lease.

2006  Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation registered with ORIC.

2011  OM (Mines) Ltd damaged sacred site at Bootu mine.

2013  OM Manganese Ltd was fined $150,000 in the Darwin Magistrates’ Court for one count of desecration to, and one count of damaging, the ‘Two Women Sitting Down’ sacred site at their Bootu Creek manganese mine on Banka Banka station, 170km north of Tennant Creek.



Culture is a way of understanding and living in the world. Heritage is the environment, objects, places and events that we inherit from the past and pass on to future generations to learn, use and take strength from. The Kunapa families maintain and protect their cultural heritage in everyday living. They also monitor and ensure the correct management of heritage sites on the mining lease.