Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi
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Kaurna Language in Public Art and Commemorative Plaques within the city precincts

(Phrases still displayed in the original spellings have revised spellings [RS] listed here for reference pending updates)

Piltawodli (North side of Torrens Lake, near weir) [RS Pirltawardli]

The main plaque installed at Piltawodli in May 2000 features a songline sung by Ngurpo Williamsie in 1844 in protest at the invasion of his country:

Wanti nindo ai kabba kabba? Ningkoandi kuma yerta.  [RS Wanti nintu'ai kapa kapa? Ninku'anti kuma yarta.]

(There is a slight error in the plaque itself. The second kabba was inadvertently deleted, but it really should be there).

The names of several Kaurna purka (Elders) also appear in the text. They are:

Mullawirraburka (King John or Onkaparinga Jack) [RS Murlawirrapurka]

Kadlitpinna (Captain Jack) [RS Kadlitpina]

Ityamaiitpinna (King Rodney) [RS Ityamai-itpina]

A smaller plaque at Piltawodli features a letter written in Kaurna by Pitpauwe, who was then a 12 year old boy who attended the Piltawodli school run by Samuel Klose. This letter was sent by Klose to Germany in 1843. The original was kept with other Kaurna children's letters in the Lutheran Archives in Leipzig. They were returned to Adelaide in 2014 and are now in the Barr Smith Library Special Collection at the University of Adelaide.

The text of the letter is as follows:

Letter sent to Germany by Pitpauwe, 12 year old boy requesting more toys

Ngaityo tarruanna. Mudliworlinna na parni kaityatti. Narta ngadlo naalitya paper kaityandi. Paper kaityaninga parni ngadlikorna. Ngunyawaietinna parni kaityaninga yerntayintya.
Pitpauwidlo naako paper pinggatti.

[RS Ngaityu taru-ana. Mudliwarlirna naa parni kaityathi. Nata ngadlu naalitya paper kaityanthi. Paper kaityaninga parni ngadlikurna. Ngunyawayitirna parni  kaityaninga yarntayintya.  Pitpauwidlu naku paper pingkanthi.]

"To my brother in law. You sent some toys. Now we are sending a letter to you (plural). [Please] you (plural) send a letter for us two. [Please] send toys here. 
Pitpauwe (honey suckle) has written you (plural) this letter."

The portrait of the Kaurna purka (Elder) Kadlitpina (Captain Jack) also appears on a small plaque at this site.

Another plaque features George French Angas' painting of the Kaurna Kurdi and Palti ceremonies. Kuri 'a dance amongst the northern tribes, at which the men, ornamented with white stripes or dots on the face and chest, and green leaves round their knees, first form a circle, then stamp with their feet alternately on the ground, while the women sit down and sing' (Teichelmann & Schürmann, 1840: 14); palti 'song; play' (Teichelmann & Schürmann, 1840: 36).

George French Angas? painting of the Kaurna Kuri and Palti ceremonies.

Images from the installation at Pirltawardli:

The Yerrakartarta installation

Possum sculpture featured in the Yerrakartarta installation


Yerrakartarta [RS Yarakartarta]

(Hyatt Hotel, North Terrace, Adelaide City)

The Yerrakartarta installation was created in 1995. The name derives from yirrakartarta 'scattered; disorderly; without design; at random'.

The installation features the following text taken from Teichelmann & Schürmann (1840: 67) with the words Kaurna yerta added:

Natta atto nanga; yakko atto bukki nakki, Kaurna yerta. [RS Nata 'athu nanga; yaku 'athu puki naki, Kaurna yarta]

'I know it now. Before I didn't. This is Kaurna country.'

Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri words appearing on panels:

Panel 1. (Kaurna)

Tjirbruki - name of ancestral being

Kulultuwi - name of ancestral being; Tjilbruke's nephew

Tetjawi - name of ancestral being

Jurawi - name of ancestral being

Winda [RS Wirnta] - 'a large spear thrown without a woomera'

Tarnda [RS Tarnta]- 'male red kangaroo'

Kari [RS Kardi] - 'emu'

Parndo [RS Parntu] - 'Murray Cod'

Warriparri [RS Warripari] - 'windy river' (name of the Sturt River)

Pudna - 'waterhole; native well'

Panel 2. (Kaurna)

Tjirbruki - name of ancestral being

Pudna - 'waterhole; native well'

Winda [RS Wirnta] - 'a large spear thrown without a woomera'

Kari Tainga [RS Kardi Taingi] - 'emu track'

Worti [RS Warti] - 'tail'

Parndo [RS Parntu] - 'Murray Cod'

Pundonya [RS Puntunya] - 'goanna'

Tudno [RS Tudnu] - 'a species of snake'

Panel 3. (Kaurna)

Tjirbruki - name of ancestral being

Winda [RS Wirnta] - 'a large spear thrown without a woomera'

Kari [RS Kardi] - 'emu'

Pudna - 'waterhole; native well'

Worti [RS Warti] - 'tail'

Panel 4. (Ngarrindjeri)

The Ngarrindjeri words Ngurunderi, mimini, ponde, Murrunde, mingkule and pulgi appear on the fourth panel. These are not included in this resource.


Kaurna Meyunna, Kaurna Yerta Tampendi – Festival Theatre

[RS Kaurna Miyurna, Kaurna Yarta Tampinthi]

Kaurna Meyunna, Kaurna Yerta Tampendi ? Festival Theatre

The artwork features the words kawanda [RS kawanta] 'north', patpa 'south' and the words yertarra padnima taingiwiltanendadlu [RS yartarra padnima taingiwiltarninth'adlu] 'if we travel the land then we become strong.'

kawanda meaning north

patpa meaning south

The words of the 1841 letter, scribed by Ityamaii and signed by eight Kaurna children

The words of the 1841 letter, scribed by Ityamaii and signed by eight other Kaurna children, also appear within the installation. They are as follows:

Murkandi ngadlu parnu kurlangga, padlo ngadlu numa nakketti. Ngadluko yerlitta ba tikketti maiingga parnungga mutyertilla. Mai mutyerta padlo ngadlu yungketti. Maiiyerta ngadluko padlonungko kudlaityappi.

[RS Murrkanthi ngadlu parnu kurlangka, padlu ngadlu numa nakunthi. Ngadluku yarlita pa tikanthi mai-ingka parnungka mutyartila. Mai mutyarta padlu ngadlu yungkunthi. Mai yarta nadluku padlu nungku kudla-ityapi.]

These words were translated literally by Teichelmann as follows:

'Lament we at his absence, he at us well did look, our father he did sit regarding food, meat, clothing, food clothing he us did give, land for food he us back gave'

A plaque on the wall explains the Kaurna Warra, Kaurna Yerta Tampendi project and includes the names Tarnda Kanya (Red Kangaroo Rock), Tjilbruke, Ngangkiparringga (Women's River) and Yurridla (Dreaming Story of the Mt Lofty Ranges).


State Library

Following the redevelopment of the State Library in 2003, a Kaurna statement of welcome was engraved in the pavement immediately in front of the main entrance:

Munara ngai wanggandi “Marni naa Kaurna yertaanna budni. Wortangga marni naa State Library of South Australilla budni. Ngaityo yungandalya, ngaityo yakkanandalya padniadlu wadu.”

[RS Munara ngai wangkanthi "Marni naa Kaurna yarta-ana pudni. Wartangka marni naa State Library of South Australilla pudni. Ngaityu yungatalya, ngaityu yakanatalya padni-adlu waatu"]

First I say “Welcome to Kaurna land. Welcome to the State Library of South Australia. My dear brothers and sisters, let's walk together.”

These words also appear on a metal panel inside the foyer.


Migration Museum

Mullawirraburka is named on a brick in the pavement.


North Terrace

Charles Witto-Witto Cawthorne
One of the sesquicentenary plaques is dedicated to Charles Witto-Witto Cawthorne, son of William Cawthorne who had a close friendship with Kadlitpina in the 1840s. Witu-Witu refers to the cockatoo feather headdress worn by Kaurna men.


Peace Pole (University of Adelaide)

Peace Pole, The University of Adelaide Peace Pole, The University of Adelaide

A Peace Pole has been erected in the courtyard between the Wills Building and Elder Hall inscribed with words in English, French, Japanese and Kaurna respectively on each of its four faces. The Kaurna words are as follows:

Bilyonirna Yertangga. 'Let peace (prevail) on earth.' [RS Pilyurnirna Yartangga]


Adelaide Railway Station

Two of the pillars are inscribed with Kaurna words as follows:

Marni naa budni Kaurna yertaanna.  'Welcome to Kaurna land'  [RS Marni naa pudni Kaurna yarta-ana]

Wanti ninna?  'Where are you going?' [Wanti niina?]