Ngan Aak Kunch Aboriginal Corporation

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The Ngan Aak Kunch Aboriginal Corporation administers land on behalf of the Wik people. The Wik peoples’ native title rights and interests were recognised in five determinations, made in 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2012.

The applicant first sought a declaration of native title in 1993 over an area of 28,000 square kilometres of land, which included a range of tenures and other interests. In Wik Peoples and Thayorre People v Queensland (1996) 187 CLR 1, a majority of the High Court held that the granting of pastoral leases under Queensland legislation did not necessarily extinguish all native title rights and interests in the claim area.

The parties agreed to divide this claim in two, to allow areas of different difficulty to be heard independently. Part A consisted of 12,530 square kilometres of unallocated Crown lands or lands that had only ever been subject to forms of title granted for the benefit of Aboriginal People. Unlike Part B, it did not include any land subject to pastoral or mining title. The claim over Part A lands was negotiated over 6 years and finally recognised by the Federal Court in a consent determination in 2000. The agreement recognised the Wik people’s exclusive right to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the area. In making his decision, Drummond J questioned why such a relatively uncomplicated claim had taken so long to reach agreement.

The remaining areas of the claim (Part B) included lands held under seven pastoral and four mining titles, covering 6,136 square kilometres. In 2004, two consent determinations were made by Cooper J over approximately 12,530 square kilometres of the claim area. In 2009, the Court made a positive determination in relation to other areas of land and waters within the claim area. A final consent determination covering the remaining 4,500 square kilometres of inland land and waters was concluded in October 2012.

In addition to the consent determinations, the Ngan Aak Kunch Aboriginal Corporation also administers a number of Indigenous Land use Agreements in relation to parts of the determination areas.

Managed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
AIATSIS acknowledges the funding support of the Native Title Branch of
the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).