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Inspiration

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Here we present some of our people who have been trailblazers in their lifetimes. This section contains images of deceased people; the use of these images has been approved by the artist's families and trustees.

1939 - 2000

Nation: Torres Strait Islander

Bob Maza


Born on Palm Island, Bob Maza was instrumental in the development of Indigenous film and theatre in Australia.

‘You're a Blackfella in this country you're political from the word go. As a young married man I was given a book, called 'Malcolm X Speaks'. And that changed my perspective about who I was, who Blackfellas were, ... And what that Malcolm X said to me, you know, in that book made me realise. At that time I worked in a quarry smashing rocks. I thought that was my lot. I thought that's what Blackfellas can expect in this life, you know...’ Bob Maza, (ABC)

In the early sixties Bob Maza moved from QLD to Melbourne and was swept up in the Australian Black Power Movement, becoming the President of the Aboriginal Advancement League and participating in the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972. He continued his involvement in the Indigenous rights movement throughout his life.

He was pivotal in the establishment of the Black Theatre in Redfern and the evolution of contemporary Indigenous theatre. He went on to feature in television, film and theatre for the rest of his life. He was also a playwrite, his plays included; 'The Keepers', 'Mereki' and 'Tiddalik', and was a contributor to 'Jack Charles is Up and Fighting' and 'Basically Black'. He served as a Commissioner on the Australian Film Commission and during his term, was instrumental in establishing the Indigenous Unit. He was awarded the prestigious Red Ochre Award for his outstanding contribution to the arts.

'He loved working with Indigenous actors, directors, writers. He was so proud that he was part of something that was Indigenous. That's what he always said - "Let the black man tell the black man's story. We can do it. We just need to be given the chance." He used to love it. It wouldn't matter if they paid nothing, he'd still do it because he wanted to be involved.’
Kerry Maza, Message Stick, ABC

Just some of his film and television credits include:

Harry’s War, A Difficult Women, Back of Beyond, Lillian’s Story, Heartland Nostradamus Kid, Reckless Kelly, Ground Zero, BabaKuieria Fringe Dwellers, Women of the Sun, Homicide and Bellbird.

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