Big Mal's Big History
On the “eve” of the first State of Origin, we travelled to Palmer Coolum Resort to interview a Queensland footy legend and generally all around fabulous guy, Mal Meninga.
But we weren't there to talk footy, well not necessarily. For those who know of Mal’s heritage, it would not surprise you to learn that we were there to capture Mal’s ancestral story – the story of his family and his Australian South Sea Islander heritage (they trace their heritage to Tanna, an island off Vanuatu).
Mal, together with his brother Geoffrey, spoke to us about their family history, growing up, where they come from, and what identity means to them. For Mal being an Australian South Sea Islander goes right to his core. He holds a great sense of pride for that inheritance and, ultimately, it is family that is utmost in the heart of Mal.
Some other things to discover is that big Mal read Nancy Drew. It’s a good thing Geoffrey was there for that nugget! It was wonderful to see the two brothers interacting; their closeness and respect for one another was plainly evident. Another note of interest is that “Meninga” means chief warriors. Thank goodness Mal is in charge of the Queensland squad!
So on the “eve” of the last State of Origin for 2013, we can share with you the story of the Meninga family. We hope their story continues to spread an awareness and understanding of Australian South Sea Islanders’ history and that we all continue to discover and share who we are against the vast and diverse backdrop of this Queensland landscape.
You can also view the digital story and the full length interview (oral history) through our online catalogue. The interview is a cracker!
Zenovia Pappas - Contemporary Collecting Coordinator, State Library of Queensland