TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER
SACRED MUSIC
Protection, cultivation and revitalisation
Torres Strait Islander Sacred Music Strategic Network

People

Network leader

Dr Philip Matthias

Dr Philip Matthias
Senior Lecturer
School of Creative Arts 

E: Philip.Matthias@newcastle.edu.au

Members

Dr Catherine Grant

Dr Catherine Grant
Research Academic
School of Creative Arts

E: Catherine.Grant@newcastle.edu.au
Dr Jocelyn Mckinnon

Dr Jocelyn McKinnon
Lecturer
School of Creative Arts 

E: Jocelyn.McKinnon@newcastle.edu.au
Mr Toby Whaleboat

Toby Whaleboat
TSI community member
Dr Karl Neuenfeldt

Dr Karl Neuenfeldt
Researcher
Central Queensland University

Dr Helen Fairweather

Helen Fairweather
Honorary Research Fellow
Independent scholar

Helen Fairweather (formerly Reeves Lawrence) has an interdisciplinary background in ethnomusicology and material anthropology. Currently an independent scholar, she has held teaching and research positions at a number of Australian universities and overseas institutions. Her research work has focused mainly on music, dance and material culture in the Pacific region, including eastern Torres Strait where she investigated the influence of Christianity on Islander music cultures. Helen has published widely, in journals, books and encyclopaedia. She is the editor of Traditionalism and Modernity in the Music and Dance of Oceania and a contributor to Woven Histories Dancing Lives: Torres Strait
Islander Identity, Culture and History
.

No image availabel

Nick Piper
Doctoral candidate
Language and Culture Research Centre
James Cook University 

Nick Piper has been involved with the Meriam people since 1987, when she first went to Mer (Murray Island to study) their language. She completed a sketch grammar for her Masters at the Australian National University, which was published in 2013. She is currently producing a comprehensive grammar as part of her doctorate at the Language and Culture Research Centre at James Cook University. She is being supervised by Distinguished Professor Alexandra Aikhenvald and Professor Robert Dixon.
Today, the language is at risk of dying out as young people are learning the Torres Strait creole rather than Meriam. Most of the Meriam speakers are now aged in their 60s or 70s and when they pass away, so will their knowledge. It is difficult to estimate the number of speakers as many Torres Strait Islanders have settled on the Australian mainland in cities and towns such as Cairns, Townsville, Innisfail, Mackay and Mareeba. A conservative estimate would be less than 50 speakers. Nick is working with speakers in Cairns and on Mer.


 

Associate members

James Maher
Honours student
School of Creative Arts 
Beimop Tapim
TSI community member
Murray Island 
Elimo Tapim
TSI community member 
Townsville