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Nations of Northern NSW celebrated in new Indigenous Round Jersey

The thirteen First Nations of north and north-western New South Wales will take pride of place on the nib Newcastle Knights new Indigenous Round Jersey, to be worn for the first time against the New Zealand Warriors in Indigenous Round 2022 on 28 May.

The jersey features the artwork of proud Worimi man, Gerard Black who has showcased the totems of the people and lands stretching from the Hawkesbury River to the Queensland border and into western NSW.

Kurt Mann, Dane Gagai and Kalyn Ponga in the jersey.
Kurt Mann, Dane Gagai and Kalyn Ponga in the jersey.

Knights Chief Executive Officer Philip Gardner said it was vitally important that the new jersey was something the entire region could feel a connection to.

“We want our players to run on for Indigenous Round in a jersey that celebrates all the Nations and First Nations people of our region,” Mr Gardner said.

“We thank Gerard for his considered design, which is a genuine tribute to his country and family, as well as the many other Nations of our region and we hope it in some small way helps to ensure the continuation of Aboriginal culture and tradition.”

In October 2021 the Knights called for Expressions of Interest from artists of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island backgrounds to design the 2022 jersey, with the 45 submissions received being reviewed by an independent panel who collectively selected Black’s artwork, Birriwal Guwiyn, as the most suitable.

Birriwal Guwiyn means Strong Spirit in Gathang language, the traditional language of the Worimi people.

Mr Black said his design was a heartfelt acknowledgement of the deep connection and commitment Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to their history, culture and heritage.

“I wanted people from each Nation to feel pride and connection when they saw their totem on the jersey, just as I feel when I see the Worimi dolphin tail,” Black said.

“The whole artwork is presented through the eyes of our Creator Spirit, Baiyami and I have dedicated the design to my Pop, Worimi Elder John Ridgeway OAM - you’ll notice him sitting in the middle of the tail.

“It is my hope that when the players pull on the jersey, they will feel like they’re putting on a spiritual shield of pride, honour, respect and connection, and each player will feel this power and walk together knowing they are connected to the spirits of the land, sky and sea and the Creator Spirit Baiyami.”

The man behind our 2022 Indigenous Jersey. Proud Worimi man Gerard Black.
The man behind our 2022 Indigenous Jersey. Proud Worimi man Gerard Black.

Nations and their totems represented on the front and rear of the jersey include the Awabakal eagle, Worimi dolphin, Wonnarura eagle, Darkinjung whale, Geawegal dolphin, Biripi shark, Dunghutti mantis, Wiradjuri goanna, Kamilaroi eagle, Anaiwan echidna, Gumbaynggirr ocean, Ngarabal koala and Bundjalung goanna.

The Knights will once again work with the University of Newcastle as part of Indigenous round, something University of Newcastle’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky says is a source of pride for both organisations.

“The University of Newcastle is proud to partner with the Newcastle Knights for Indigenous round for the third consecutive year. It represents our commitment to serving our community and continuing to foster pathways to university for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.”

This year’s partnership between the Knights and the University of Newcastle will again extend to the full match day program and beyond, with the University’s Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Leadership Nathan Towney confirming both organisations are working on a range of initiatives that celebrate Indigenous Round and First Nations people.

“This partnership signifies the important role both organisations play in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement. The University is excited to deliver a series of events, including the Aboriginal Numeracy Gala Day, bringing together Aboriginal high school students from across the Hunter and Central Coast to participate in a series of fun and engaging numeracy activities at McDonald Jones Stadium,” Mr. Towney said.

For more information on the artist, click here.

To purchase the jersey, visit the Knights shop here.