In Meuram culture when a young woman is married, she will leave her family to join her husband’s. Upon giving birth, if a boy is born there are protocols to ensure the connection to his mother’s side is not forgotten also preventing close bloodline marriages. Young teenage boys are taught some cultural values from their Aua (mother’s older brother). One example is the boy’s first successful turtle catch (only the Aua can take the boy out for his first turtle). The connection they can have is less sensitive than the relationship between the young boy and his parents and communication can be less emotional, for example; the difference in the tone of the parents voice or a facial expression when upset can come across as disappointed and judgmental but the uncle can sound and more encouraging and less judgmental. This ensures a strong bond between the two families.
Living in Cairns I often spent my school holidays with my aunty and uncle in Northern Peninsula Area of Queensland and the Torres Strait. Reminiscing on fond memories growing up with my cousins and young uncles we practiced traditional hunting and fishing together. When I was a young teenager my uncle his friend would take me diving around Prince of Wales (the biggest island located near Thursday Island) for erar – one of the delicacies of the Torres Strait. I was always eager to go diving because there weren’t many opportunities for me in Cairns. As we drove the dingy in closer towards the mangroves, I was anxious to get in the water. My uncle told me to throw the anchor whilst he and his friend could prepare to get in the water.
Because I was young and inexperienced, he told me to follow behind him once we were in the water with a bag for the fish and a spare spear to swap over when he would spear one. As he put his goggles on, I eagerly jumped into the water, while my uncle’s friend swam to the other side of the mangrove so we could surround the school of erar. My uncle then jumped in behind me and told me to swim towards the root of the mangrove and hold on to it. As I began to swim, my uncle noticed a Kodal (crocodile) resting at the bottom of the mangrove roots. As I became unwarily closer to the tail of the Kodal, my uncle grabbed my leg and pulled me back, throwing me upon a nearby mangrove tree. He then spoke to me in a firm voice, “you look the croc front you?” I replied with a surprised, “nah”. He then told me to quickly swim back to the dingy while he warned his friend. I pulled up the anchor and we picked him up. I knew better than to rush into those mangroves without checking what was around me, but my uncle luckily saved me. From that point, I’ve never rushed into the water and always check my surroundings first.