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Aboriginal remains set to be exhumed from Riverlea development site, reburied nearby 

Callan Morse -

Aboriginal remains found at a housing development in north Adelaide are set to be exhumed and reburied nearby.

The remains, which total at least 27 people, are believed to be Kaurna ancestors who were traditionally buried at the site prior to colonisation.

The remains were found alongside artefacts at the Riverlea housing development, 30km north of Adelaide in July, which prompted Walker Corporation to halt development in two areas.

Initial cultural heritage surveys undertaken with Kaurna participants suggest the remains and artefacts pre-date colonisation, with further archaeological investigations indicating the area was not a massacre site, with the placement of individual remains being consistent with traditional Kaurna burial practices.

Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson and Elder, Tim Agius said a compromise had been made to ensure the protection of the remains.

"The community's preferred position was that the ancestors remain in their burial ground and not be removed from Riverlea," Mr Agius said.

"However, under the circumstances and with the support of Kaurna Elders, we have made the difficult decision to respectfully exhume the remains to ensure their protection."

Mr Agius said work was being done at Rivelea to identify an area to rebury the Karuna ancestors as close as practical to where they had been discovered.

"We are listening to our Elders and we are practising what our Elders have supported," he said.

"We are following a process that has been endorsed by our Elders for 30 years. When ancestors are found, they are relocated to a safe location near the development.

"We will make sure that our site is selected where they are as close as possible to that site. But they certainly will not be removed and relocated to a site off Riverlea Estate."

The native title body is seeking to fulfil the wishes of Kaurna community members who have called for a memorial garden and reflection centre at Riverlea to honour and respect Kaurna ancestors, with KYAC and Walker Corporation working together to ensure that ancestral remains are treated and handled with respect.

Walker Corporation is now seeking authorisation from the state government to continue developing the site under Sections 21, 23, and 29(1)(b) of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1998 (SA).

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