Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Curtis Pitt today joined community leaders in paying tribute to Pormpuraaw Elder Mr E Holroyd, who passed away on Thursday 16 June 2011 at the age of 63.
“Everyone who knew Mr Holroyd will remember him as a strong leader and mentor whose values of respect, integrity and loyalty impacted on others,” Mr Pitt said.
“Eddie’s achievements as a long term Traditional Owner and advocate for the Wik people included being a respondent in the successful determination for Native Title recognition over the lands in Cape York on behalf of the Wik and Wik Way peoples,” he said.
“Throughout his life, Mr Holroyd continually strived to make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal people, their families and their communities.
He was a trailblazing Indigenous pastoralist fighting for years to get his own cattle station. At the time, he said: “I worked on most of the white cattle properties, and if white people have a cattle property why not black people have one?” He put this argument with authority and he won.
In 1986, he was granted a commercial 30-year lease. “I just wanted to be a grazier,” he said.
Mr Holroyd called upon his years of commercial experience as a pastoralist to guide ventures as diverse as growing sandalwood and noni fruit, to professional Barramundi fishing.
He was chair of both the Aboriginal Corporation of West Coast Cape York Peninsula Traditional Land Owners (WCCYPTLO) and the Christmas Creek Aboriginal Corporation. Born and raised on country in a very traditional way and based on hard work and forward thinking, Mr Holroyd always looked for ways to balance his beloved culture with the commercial future he envisioned for future generations
Mr Holroyd will also be remembered for his leadership as a shire Councillor, ATSIC Councillor, founding member of Pormpur Paanth Aboriginal Corporation, Munkan -Thaayore Community Justice Group, Child Protection Committee and Pormpuraaw Healing Centre and Director of Ngokal Weendi Aboriginal Corporation.
Mr Pitt acknowledged that many of these organisations would not be in existence today if it wasn’t for the commitment of Mr Holroyd.
“Mr Holroyd never backed down from a fight for what was right for his people, no matter what people thought of him – he actively participated in mediation sessions on community issues and wasn’t afraid to tackle the hard issues,” Mr Pitt said.
“Mr Holroyd will be sadly missed by the many people who knew him, and on whose behalf he advocated, and our condolences go out to his wife Mary and children Bessie, Susie, Katie and Frederick, and extended family and friends.”
Mr Holroyd passed away after a short illness and his funeral will be held this Thursday (30 June) in Pormpuraaw.