WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following may contain images, story and voices of deceased, by and about persons. Discretion advised.

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23 July 2021 // Daphne Puntjina

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Daphne Puntjina (1944 - ) was born in the bush at Tent Hill on her traditional in Pitjantjatjara Homelands of Areyonga Creek also known as Utju, located in Central Australia. 

She met her husband when she was a student at Utja school in the James Range, 240 kilometres south west of Alice Springs.

Performing with the Areyonga choir since 1962, the group travelled to Darwin for a singing contest. After their performance she entered the solo singing category and was the only Aboriginal performer and won.

 

As a member of the school council Daphne records Pitjantjatjara stories and teaches culture to the children at the school. Around her community, Daphne is a leader in many areas and has worked in the church and council.

In the 1990s Daphne published Kupi-kupi and the Girl (Tjukurpa Kungka Manu Kupi-Kupitjara) through Magabala Books.  A traditional bilingual tale it is a whimsical account of a young girl who spends her time chasing willy-willies. One day, the Kupi-Kupi spirits her away to a waterhole, where she is guarded by a giant watersnake. Her bold rescue by a medicine man restores her to her family.

 

Daphne also sings in the Utju Ladies Choir. She gained international fame as a participant in the Central Australian Women’s Choir, travelling to overseas to perform and star in a documentary. The Song Keepers, which premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2017, is a documentary about the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir as it embarks on a historic journey to Germany and the United States. 

The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir was formed in 2010 and comprises constituent choirs from six remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory — the Hermannsburg Ladies Choir (Ntaria) the Areyonga Ladies Choir (Utju), the Titjikala Choir, the Mutitjulu Choir, the Docker River Choir (Kaltukatjara) and the Mission Block Choir of Alice Springs.

The choir is the custodian of a continuous choral tradition stretching back almost 120 years to the time when German mission pioneers first contacted the Western Arrarnta speaking community of Ntaria.

As well as performing sacred music in the Western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara languages, the choir has introduced new music through collaborations with other Centralian and International choirs.

She is oldest member of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir.

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