Norah Bagiriy

Norah Bagiri’s home community is St. Paul Village on Moa Island in the Torres Strait region. Her totems are Keigas (shovel-nosed ray) and Dhangal (dugong).

Her varied career includes performances as an actor, singer-songwriter, live performer, playwright and comedian. As a singer-songwriter, she has recorded her songs for community projects; dueted with Henry ‘Seaman’ Dan; and sang for television soundtracks.

As a television actor, she has appeared in the mini-series ‘Remote Area Nurse’ (SBS) and ‘The Straits’ (ABC).

As a live performer, she has played with various bands and hosted cultural festivals in Cairns, Brisbane and for communities throughout Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait region.

In 2016 she appeared in the theatrical production of the Indigenous comedy ‘Proper Solid’ on an extensive tour of Queensland Indigenous communities. For Norah Bagiri, music is but one of several art forms at which she excels and enjoys as a versatile and experienced entertainer.

St Paul’s Scenic Lookout

St. Paul

St. Paul’s community is on the southeast coast Moa Island in the Near Western Islands of the Torres Strait region. It is a small community of approximately three hundred people and is serviced by a health clinic, a primary school, government agencies and a store. It has a well-earned reputation for the high quality of its artists, who specialise in music, dance and art works such as ghost-net weaving.

In the early years of the twentieth century most of the South Sea Islander men who had come to Australia in the nineteenth century to work, mainly in the sugar industry, were deported. This was due to the enforcement of the White Australia Policy when in its first year the new Australian Parliament passed the Pacific Islander Labourers Act of 1901. However, in the Torres Strait region some of the South Sea Islander immigrants who had worked in maritime industries and had established families with Indigenous women were exempt from deportation.

In 1904 St. Paul was established as a community for those families, in particular from Mabuyag Island, on the traditional lands of Moa Island’s traditional owners the Mualgal (Italgal) people who now live in the nearby community of Kubin. In 1908 the Queensland government officially gazetted land for the community and also in 1908 the Anglican Church established a mission and a Native Training College and Seminary for clergy. In 1939 a community council was established and in 1985 ownership of the land was finally obtained though a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT).

Over the last century, St. Paul’s community has contributed many well-regarded workers to the maritime industries of Queensland and Western Australia and also to Australian education, commerce and the arts.