First Nations history recognised with dual name for Tasmanian air pollution station

BOM

Issued: Friday 27 May

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution station in north-west Tasmania will now incorporate the area’s First Nations name of Kennaook.

Kennaook (pronounced Ken-nah-ook) is understood to be the traditional name in the Aboriginal language once spoken in the north and north-west Tasmania. First Nations people referred to the area as Kennaook for thousands of years, although its precise meaning and origin remains unknown.

Bureau of Meteorology’s Sam Cleland, who manages the Baseline Air Pollution station, said there is a rich history in the station’s vicinity, evidenced by hut depressions and nearby middens.

“The Bureau sees enormous value in acknowledging the First Nations heritage in this area as a mark of respect,” Mr Cleland said.

“The Bureau is committed to being a Bureau for all Australians and incorporating the original spoken language of the north and north-west Aboriginal nations from Circular Head is one way the organisation is delivering on that commitment.

“This is just one step on the bigger journey towards reconciliation, in line with the Bureau’s Reconciliation Action Plan to build respectful relationships and opportunities with First Nations peoples.”

Its use as part of the station’s official name was endorsed by the Circular Head Aboriginal community to honour their ancestors and serves as a reminder of the area’s rich First Nations history.

Acting General Manager of the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation Dianne Baldock said renaming the Kennaook / Cape Grim Air Pollution station provides a stronger connection with her ancestors’ land.

“I get a lot of people coming up to me to ask what Kennaook means, and it makes me proud to reply that it’s from a language that has lived here for a very long time,” she said.

“When I take people out to Kennaook, I always ask them to meditate on how they feel about walking in the steps of the ancestors there, and now we’ve got recognition of these ancestors in the place’s name.”

The station analyses air samples to record the composition of the pristine air from the Southern Ocean, unaffected by local pollution sources, to chronicle the driving forces behind climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion. It also records valuable weather and climate information such as temperature, rainfall, wind, humidity and solar radiation. Measurements taken at Cape Grim are particularly valuable as they define how the composition of the global atmosphere has changed, and how it continues to change.

The Bureau also maintains an online Indigenous Weather Knowledge platform providing education about, and preservation of, Indigenous peoples’ relationships with the weather, water, oceans and climate.

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