Honouring Eddie Koiki Mabo


Throughout the 30 years since Eddie Koiki Mabo’s death, he has been acknowledged and honoured in many ways. He has been a source of inspiration for lectures and speeches, was the subject of coins and stamps, had a star named in his honour and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the University (and, of course, he had a university library named in his honour). This chapter captures some of the honours recognising Koiki and his achievements.



Koiki was awarded the Human Rights Medal along with his fellow plaintiffs in the Mabo case.


The Mabo Memorial sculpture (Matthew Harding), commissioned by the Townsville City Council, was installed in Pioneers Walk.

The Mabo Sculpture located on the Pioneers Walk in Townsville, showing Ross Creek in the background.
The Mabo Memorial Sculpture (by Matthew Harding [1964-2018]) located in Central Park on banks of Ross Creek – part of the Pioneers Walk. Photograph by Bernadette Boscacci.

The Mabo memorial cenotaph was installed on James Cook University’s Townsville campus.


The university library at James Cook University was named the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library in Mabo’s honour.


A waxwork figure of Eddie Koiki Mabo was launched in the Madame Tussauds attraction in Sydney, in a dedicated space.


An Eddie Koiki Mabo stamp was included in the “Indigenous Leaders” collection issued by Australia Post.


The Eddie Mabo Award for Social Justice was established as part of the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards

Gail Mabo delivered a speech called “My father Eddie Mabo” at the Happiness & Its Causes Conference in which she shared intimate stories and insights about her father, Eddie Koiki Mabo, to draw attention to his passion and humanity.


On June 3, 2015 (Mabo Day), the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences dedicated and named a star after Eddie Koiki Mabo in the Sydney Southern Star Catalogue. ​

The naming ceremony took place at Sydney Observatory in New South Wales. The star sits in both the Southern Cross and in the large constellation Tagai, a massive southern-sky constellation which is of great importance to Torres Strait Islander culture where it is used for nautical navigation. ​

Black background with white spots in the form of the tagai constellation
Image of Tagai constellation painting in JCU Library with the Koiki Star coordinates. Artwork by Bernadette Boscacci.

“The stars have great significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Rose Hiscock, Director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, told NITV. “It is fitting that we honour Uncle Eddie through the dedication of a star in our most iconic constellation, the Southern Cross.”


The National Mint released a commemorative coin to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision. The coin was designed by Boneta-Marie Mabo, Koiki’s granddaughter.


Legacy: Reflections on Mabo

Gail Mabo shares stories and visits sites of importance to her father, Eddie Koiki Mabo. Sites include her father’s memorial on Mer (Murray) Island and James Cook University, Douglas campus.

The video is part of a national touring art exhibition Legacy: Reflections on Mabo, presented by and premiered at Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts, 5 July to 11 August 2019. Visit the gallery’s website to find out about the evolution of the exhibition, and hear from contributing artists about their response to an aspect of Eddie Koiki Mabo’s life.


Eddie Koiki Mabo Awarded Honorary Doctorate

In recognition of this legacy, as well as his campaign to improve the rights and wellbeing of his people, Eddie Koiki Mabo was posthumously awarded an Honorary Doctorate from JCU.

JCU Chancellor Bill Tweddell and Gail Mabo pose with the Doctorate awarded to Eddie Koiki Mabo at the Mabo memorial cenotaph. The tam he would have worn to receive the award is on top of the cenotaph.


Eddie Koiki Mabo: History in the Making Copyright © by James Cook University Library. All Rights Reserved.