Making history, 19-year-old Yolangu woman Maminydjama ‘Magnolia’ Maymuru has been named as the first Aboriginal women to represent the Northern Territory at Miss World Australia.
Maymuru hails from the remote east Arnhem Land community of Yirrkala and grew up in the bilingual community surrounded by her family of traditional artists. Director of NT Fashion Week Mehali Tsangaris spotted her two years ago in Darwin. Maymuru, focussed on her studies, declined his offer, but when he approached her again after seeing her out shopping a year later, she took him up on it.
Speaking to Buzzfeed about what changed her mind she explained, “The main reason why I agreed to do it is that I don’t want to do it just for myself, I want to do it for young people all over Australia. That means black or white. I grew up both ways, the Yolngu way, and the balanda way, which is the white man’s way, the western way.”
Speaking of the lack of Indigenous models on Australian runways, Tsangaris hopes Maymuru’s example will lead others within the industry to work with local communities.
“I’m quite surprised that nobody’s worked with girls from community and girls as culturally sound as her. I think Australia needs to see girls like Magnolia,” he told the ABC.
While she hopes her story will be an example for others, she’ll be just as happy if the experience only lasts a few years, as she loves her home.
“I’m happy to go back home and get into normal life. I’d trade anything to just have a Saturday and Sunday somewhere fishing and camping,” she said.
“Yirrkala is irreplaceable. It’s home.”