Saibai Island

Saibai Island (9°24′S 142°41′ECoordinates9°24′S 142°41′E) is one of the Torres Strait Islands in Australia, between the Australian mainland and the island of New Guinea. Saibai is a fairly large low-lying island only 4 km from the Papua New Guinea mainland. Close north is uninhabited Kauamag Island, separated from Saibai by a channel that is seven kilometers long, between 180 and 650 meters wide, and nearly blocked at its east end.
Saibai Island Torres Straits
The main village of Saibai, in the northwest, has a population of 171. The second village, Churum [SurumWhite Sand], in the southwest, numbers 128.
The language spoken on Saibai is Kalaw Kawaw Ya (KKY). Saibai Islanders have always traded had good relations with neighbouring Papuans, their great enemies being traditionally the Kupamal (alt. the Kiwai) of theFly River Delta area and the Thugeral (lit. 'Warriors') of the Morehead River area (Papuan-West Papuan border area).
The Saibai Islanders accepted Christianity in 1871 with the arrival of the London Missionary Society. The missionaries took the sacred Adhibuya stone from the Aith people of Saibai, which was venerated because it protected locals from the Kiwai, and gave them battle power (kœubu puy battle magic).
During World War 1, the Zaman Wislin cult (from German Wesleyan), a cargo cult, flourished on Saibai, but soon diminished, though it still exists today. After Saibai Island was devastated by abnormally high tides wave after WW2, a group of Saibai Islanders, led by Bamaga Ginau, eventually accepted Government assistance to resettle on Cape York. The reserve that was established was named Bamaga and Seisia (Red Island Point).
The Saibai Islanders were adamant that their islands would remain Australian after Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975, and they succeeded in their desire. There is however, regular trade between Saibai and Papuan villages; the locals, carrying a permit, may cross the border, something outsiders may not do. Strict quarantine regulations are in force. Saibai Islanders have close family, clan, and religious ties with neighbouring Papuans, and their language (Kalau Kawau Ya) was formerly the main lingua franca of the area, and is still spoken by many Papuans.
The Island is flat, predominantly a mangrove island, with the highest point being 1.7 m asl, and prone to flooding during the wet season, which coincides with king tides. A bitumen airstrip allows year-round access. The Island is about 20 km by 15 km, but only a small proportion is inhabited. The population is transient, but is recorded between 350 & 400 people. The population is 70% indigenous, Torres Strait Islander people, with 25% Papuan and 5% White Australian.

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