Kantesha Takai


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Kantesha Takai welcome to NITV radio.

Thank you.

I saw a campaign that you are championing, COVID-19, specifically addressing this issue and raising awareness within the Torres Strait Islander community. How did you get involved in this campaign?

A friend of mine runs the Instagram page 'Faces of the Straits', she messaged me to see if I would be interested in doing a little video and, I didn't really think it would go so far. And yea I just did a video and sent it through to her and she published it on the Instagram page as a story and the next thing I knew the agency was in touch to see if they could redistribute the video across the nation and you know if that gets the message out there, for all of the Torres Strait families, I was more than happy to help.

I saw the video myself, it's a very good video. Short and sharp. I don't understand the language, but a few words in English that we speak in mainland Australia, and I could pick up the advice that you are giving. Tell us, about this particular language that you're speaking in because it's very important for the community to understand exactly the message that you're conveying to them.

Oh yes, I was just speaking Kriol, or broken English, or Yumpla Tok as it's comonly known. It's spoken by everyone up here in the Torres Strait with Torres Strait herritage, spoken on the mainland as well amongst Torres Strait families. So a lot of people down south would be able to understand. I mixed in a bit of English just because sometimes it's hard to find a way to convey a message with especially those key points that are hit better in English. So yeah it was just good to break it down a little bit so our families up here on the other island (because I'm on TI) on the other island and then down south so that they all can sort of, understand.

Now this COVID-19 is affecting the whole world, all of us are concerned, all of us are affected, no one can say that it hasn't reached them in one way or another, at least you've heard about it. In the Torres Strait Islands, how is the situation there?

Um, well we're pretty blessed actually that we're very isolated being islands, and as well our local councils, both the Torres Strait Islander Council and the Torres Strait Islander Regional Council, they immediately worked together, they had a disaster management group that came together, and they made the decisions that were best for our region. You know, we've got preliminary closes on our airports, on travel, every organisation on the island is pushing social distancing, and sort of reiterating all of the different things that we need to be aware of. Because you know, a lot of us (myself included) we have never lived through anything like this before, and nothing that's as global impacting as this so, it was very good how our councils handled it. And our leaders, so very well done to them from a top down sort of level. I know that they brought a lot of children home from school as well down south so they you know, transported them up back home and they all took those safety measures of self isolating and where possible, a lot of the councils helped as well. So I think we did very well as a community to sort of prepare for this. And you know, we didn't have what mainland Australia were seeing with the panic buying and things like that - a lot of families up here we sort of, respect one another and know not to do that to ourselves. So it's such a good community feel that we're having up here and it's just reassuring to see too.

Just imagine if there was this panic buying because in terms of the islands they have to be actually replenished by boat?

Exactly so, it's very hard as it is to try and get fresh fruit and vegetables and to get necessities and essentials up this way because everything comes by frieght by boat once a week. So I think everyone has just sort of banded together , knowingly that this is a global issue and there's nothing we can really do. And I think we're lucky too because we have the sea right there and we are sea ferrying people, you know our men can hunt for us so we are self sustaining as well and I think that makes us very lucky.

And a very resilient community. 

Yes, definitely.

But before I let you go, any message to the community out there?

I guess for families up here in the Torres Strait and across mainland Australia, just to keep safe and ring for elders and make sure the [in language] are alright, ring families [in language] and remember [in language] you can always come home after all this [in language] and be safe and practise them social distancing rules and practise good hygiene and [in language], God bless.

Kantesha, thank you so much for having the time to talk to us today.

Thank you so much.

General public

In collaboration with NITV radio, Kantesha Takai shares some tips to help keep our Torres Strait pamle (family) safe during coronavirus.