Land of the Morning Star, a documentary by Mark Worth

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The West Papua FRWP Womens Office in Docklands is hosting an HISTORIC FILM SERIES, and the first film, on 27 June 2021, is Mark Worth’s powerful 2003 documentary Land of the Morning Star. Published by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, this is a sweeping saga of colonial ambition, Cold War sellouts, and indigenous nationalism. Eye witness accounts and rare archival film paint a picture that is intimate in detail but epic in scope, revealing West Papuans’ turbulent history as victims of a vicious land grab by foreign powers. Historical film clips highlight the Dutch-colonial story; contemporary clips the role of the United States, Australia, Indonesia and the United Nations in the radical switch to Indonesian colonialism in 1963. Register for the Seminar at

Before the screening there will be a remembrance ceremony for Mark, and also for Damianus Wairib Koerni (Kurni) who died in the Netherlands on 20 June 2021 (see below)

About Mark Worth
Director Mark Worth, an Australian born in Papua New Guinea, spent his professional life producing radio programs, writing articles and producing documentary films about the West Papuan people and their quest for freedom from the Indonesian government. He was found dead in a hotel room in Sentani (West Papua) on 15 January 2004, just a few days after the ABC advertised ‘Land of the Morning Star’ would be screened across Australia on 2 February. Mark studied at the Victoria College of the Arts where he pioneered the art of ‘guerilla journalism’ and inspired many of the other students, including composer-musician David Bridie. He spent the best part of ten years researching, collecting footage, and interviewing West Papuans for Land of the Morning Star which he described as his “life-time project”.

Remembering Mark Worth (5-min video) by Janet Bel (Producer, Land of the Morning Star)

The Silencing of Mark Worth (500 words) by Sydney-based Fijian activist Adi Holmes

Sampari, Manarmakeri, and West Papua’s Morning Star flag (1200 words) by Louise Byrne
Sampari, Manarmakeri, and the West Papuans Morning Star flag

The Morning Star in Papua Barat by Nonie Sharpe, in association with Markus Wonggor Kaisiëpo (123 pages + bibliography, Arena Publications, 1994)
The Morning Star in Papua Barat, Nonie Sharp, 1991

Image: a popular depiction of Manarmakeri, the mytho-historical old man from Biak

About Damianus Wairib Koerni (Kurni)
Damianus Wairib Koerni was an original member of Mambesak, the extraordinary group of West Papuan musicians who believed their role was to uncover, cultivate and develop Papuan songs, language, and stories that were threatened by the government policy of ‘Indonesianisation’. Mambesak was formed in 1978 and travelled all over West Papua recording the songs and dances of different tribes and encouraging performances of them despite the objections of the government and its military. Concerned to represent West Papuan culture as being Melanesian as distinct from Indonesian “Mambesak helped transform our consciousness from the tribal to the national” (Ferry Marisan, Spirit of Mambesak, a band formed by human rights activists in 2000 to regenerate the spirit and music made famous by Mambesak).

Two Mambesak founding members, Arnold Ap and Edi Mofu, were shot by the Indonesian military in 1984. Another, Sam Kapissa, died in Jakarta in 2000, apparently of a heart attack, on his way home from visiting family in the Netherlands (Danilyn Rutherford Remembering Sam Kapissa, at Two other founders, Isias Rumbiak and Jacob Rumajaw, have also passed on. Damianus died in Holland on 20 June 2021. Just two of the original group, William Rumbiak and Danny Mandowen, remain alive.

Demianus Wairib Koerni (Kurni) at a cultural performance in The Netherlands.

Living in exile in The Netherlands Demianus kept up his activism.

Members of the original Mambesak Group with Arnold Ap (second-from-left).

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