Brisbane, October 1986. The first plaintiff sat in the Supreme Court of Queensland, hands clasped. He was explaining to the court in very good English how he came to know that part of Malo's law which says, 'Keep off other people's land, Teter mauki mauki...Malo keeps his hands to himself, Tag mauki mauki , He does not touch the property of others.' He believed himself to be a descendant of the Zogo le, the sacred people of Malo. His name was Edward Koiki Mabo. He had lived away from the Murray Islands since he was a young adult, at first voluntarily and later as an exile, being prevented from visiting Mer until 1977.
Eddie Mabo explained how his grandfather (Mabo) had told him that after the missionaries arrived, the men continued to participate in Malo initiation ceremonies in secret because the missionaries threatened to kill them if they caught them doing this. The last such ceremony, which his grandfather had attended, took place about 1922.
Eddie searched for knowledge about his own culture. He treasured that knowledge as a man who believed himself to be a carrier and a custodian of Meriam cultural tradition.
Keywords: Brisbane, evidence, exile, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Mabo v Queensland No.1, Malo's laws, No Ordinary Judgement, plaintiffs, Supreme Court of Queensland, 1986
Nonie Sharp (on Eddie Mabo) in 'No Ordinary Judgement', 1996, Aboriginal Studies Press.