South Mackay resident Kai Armstrong, 17, and Sarina resident Brayden-May Tapau, 17, have been selected as this year's Mr and Miss Naidoc.
South Mackay resident Kai Armstrong, 17, and Sarina resident Brayden-May Tapau, 17, have been selected as this year's Mr and Miss Naidoc. Zizi Averill

More than a pageant: Winners promise to fight for culture

TWO teenagers will carry on the legacy of 65,000 years of culture and tradition, representing their communities as the region's Mr and Miss Naidoc.

South Mackay resident Kai Armstrong and Sarina resident Brayden-May Tapau were crowned as the winners of this year's Naidoc week pageant on Wednesday evening at North Mackay Bowls Club .

Competing against seven pageant entrants and in front of a crowd of more than 100 people, Kai said there was only one person attending that mattered.

"I joined to show my pride in my culture - and to make my nan proud,” Kai said.

The young Yuibera man said he was inspired by the strength of his grandmother and role model, Eunice Armstrong

"She grew up in a really white and male supremacist society,” he said

"She fought her way to the bargaining table. She fought for her place in society”.

South Mackay resident Kai Armstrong, 17, has  been selected as this year's Mr Naidoc.
South Mackay resident Kai Armstrong, 17, has been selected as this year's Mr Naidoc. Zizi Averill

When he was announced as this year's Mr Naidoc, he said his grandmother was "ecstatic”.

For this year's Miss Naidoc, Brayden-May said family was also central to her entering the pageant.

For her, family extends beyond her parents, grandparents and siblings.

"Family to me is the whole Sarina and Mackay district,” Brayden-May said.

"They're a supportive community from where I've come from”.

Naidoc is a celebration for the whole community

She said family history and culture was spread across three tribes - from the Murray Island and Badu Island in the Torres Strait, to the Lockhart River.

The Miss Naidoc winner said she would use her new role to fight to "keep the traditions alive” using song and dance.

Brayden-May said she had performed at many traditional ceremonies including tombstone openings. She said she would continue to perform the dances as part of her new role.

Sarina resident Brayden-May Tapau, 17, has been selected as this year's Miss Naidoc.
Sarina resident Brayden-May Tapau, 17, has been selected as this year's Miss Naidoc. Zizi Averill

The two 17 year olds both said they had great respect for their new roles and promised to use them to inspire fellow young people.

Inspired by this year's Naidoc theme - Voice, Treaty, Truth - the teenagers said they would try to inspire more young people to become involved in the push for recondition of indigenous Australia.

"Indigenous Australian have had a voice for 65,000 years,” Kai said, "we can promote our culture in society”.

Brayden-May said political reforms, such as a treaty and the adoption of the Uluru Statement From The Heart, were important steps to recognise her community's voice in Australia.

Pageant organiser Aunty Veronica Ah-Wang said this year's crowned Mr and Miss Naidoc were fantastic examples of passionate young people within the Mackay community.

Inspired by their poise and maturity, Aunty Ah-Wang said they had "old heads on young shoulders”.



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