Our People

Akeyulerre recognises our elders past and present – they are our visionaries, our mentors, our guides.

Akeyulerre recognises the next generations – they are our future, our inspiration and our love.

Akeyulerre recognises our responsibility to the land – which is our health, life blood, spirit and meaning, and without which we do not have our people.

There are many more people actively involved in Akeyulerre, both past and present who are too many to mention, but they know who they are!

Myra Hayes

Arrernte Elder, Senior Knowledge Holder

Skin name: Ampetyane, Language: Central Arrernte, Current home: Alice Springs

Myra Hayes, is the traditional custodian of Mparntwe (Alice springs). She is a founder of Akeyulerre and provided the cultural leadership and direction for the early conversations and gatherings of local Arrernte elders and families.

Myra is a champion of the rights of Aboriginal people, and despite leading the Native Title fight for her people, is yet to secure equity and support to create a home on her traditional lands for her families. The Myra Hayes native title application was lodged with the National Native Title Tribunal in August 1994 on behalf of Arrernte native title holders. In May 2000 Justice Olney found that native title continued to exist on 118 of the lots of land claimed, and that it was held by Arrernte people who are descended from the original inhabitants of the Mparntwe, Antulye and Irlpme estates.

Agnes Abbott

Arrernte Elder, Senior Knowledge Holder

Skin name: Angale, Language: Eastern Arrernte, Current home: Alice Springs

Aggie was born and grew up at Loves Creek Station, now known as Ross River. She learned her culture from her mother and now she is always passing on knowledge to young people. She is happy to share her knowledge and is actively involved in teaching at Akeyulerre.

“This place is so important for healing our people, not only physically but mentally and spiritually, through passing down our knowledge of traditional healing with bush medicines, songs, dances, stories and keeping our culture and traditions alive and strong.”

Peter (Coco) Wallace

Arrernte Elder, Senior Knowledge Holder

Skin name: Peltharre, Language: Central Arrernte, Current home: Alice Springs

Coco was born at Arltunga, east of Alice Springs and has worked all over Australia, fruit picking and labouring. He taught himself to speak English when working with many different people. He teaches young people as well as educates others about Arrernte culture and has authority over sacred sites.

“You don’t teach an organisation your culture, you teach your family your culture”

Mervyn Rubuntja

Cultural and Community Leader

Skin name: Japanangka, Language: Western Arrernte, Current home: Alice Springs

Mervyn was born at the Telegraph Station in Alice Springs. His mother, was a Western Arrernte woman. His father was a senior Lawman and the first Aboriginal person in the Northern Territory to receive a state funeral. He fought for Aboriginal rights and protection of the land, led the establishment of key Aboriginal organisations and assisted in the Mabo agreement. (See his biography The Town grew up Dancing, IAD Press). Mervyn is following in his father’s footsteps as a cultural and political leader as well as a celebrated artist.

“So we can take some of our mob to country, show them, talk to them, show the right way… keep them on the right track”

Amunda Gorey

Akeyulerre Board Member, celebrated artist

Skin name: Kngwarraye, Language: Eastern Arrernte, Current home: Lytyentye Apurte

Amunda Gorey has been involved with Akeyulerre as a staff member and board member over the past 7 years. She is one of the younger generations committed to the passing on of knowledge, identity and practice. She is an emerging leading artist, a young mother and a future leader.

“They [the elders] want the young generation to step up and we want them to help us step up as well We’re coming here to learn and make a difference”

Amelia Turner

Skin name: Kngwarraye, Language: Arrernte, Current home: Alice Springs

Amelia was born and grew up at Lytyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa). She went to school at Santa Teresa and in Melbourne. She lived in Maningrida for about 10 years. Amelia’s parents were and are both senior cultural leaders. Amelia is following in their footsteps, as a cultural leader, traditional healer (Ngangkere) and leading artist. She sits on a number of boards.


Penny Drysdale: Akeyulerre Manager

Amelia Turner:  Strong Culture

Patricia Drover/Helen Kelly: Interrentye Bush Products (Social enterprise)

Dan Murphy: Ingkenteme (Bush schools)

Tyrone Lynch:  Artwekenhe-Warrke (Men’s program)

Jane Vadiveloo: Organisational Development

Jane Ulrik: Finance Support

Emma Pearce Dynamic Financial Management