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Place Names Register Extract

Pye Street

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Name Pye
Type Designation Street
Place Id 23738
Place Type Road
Status Registered
Date Registered 4 December 2009
Locality / Suburb  
Local Government Area  
  Palmerston City Council
History/Origin Named after Brother John Pye (1906-2009) Born in the NSW Riverina in 1906, the son of a policeman, Brother John Pye, grew up reading stories of missionaries. He chose to enter the order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and trained in Sydney, followed by 10 years as a teacher and athletics coach at Downlands College, Toowoomba before being appointed to the Northern Territory Missions in 1941, arriving on a troop ship.

His qualifications as a diesel engineer and background as an outstanding athlete were practical skills that were put to good used in all his postings. Brother John served a few introductory weeks on Bathurst Island before moving to Port Keats for three years.

Appointed to the Bathurst Island Mission in 1944, he helped rebuild the mission and later fought for recognition of Tiwi Islanders such as Matthias Ulungura for their efforts during the war.

When he arrived on Bathurst Island, people were already playing a simple game with a ball, or sometimes just a bundle of rags, the only rule was to carry the ball across the ground and over the line. Brother Pye put up some goal posts on an old military airstrip, organised teams and taught them how to play Australian Rules.

In 1950, he had a break from Bathurst Island moving to Channel Island where he was supervisor of the leper station for a year.

In 1954 when he was transferred to Garden Point (Pirlangimpi) on Melville Island, he continued to use football to create better relations between people in the mission which was home to many children of mixed race.

He then spent 10 years at the Daly River Mission as a mechanic, supply truck driver, and football coach and returned to Port Keats in 1970.
At the age of 70, Brother Pye returned to the Tiwi Islands, where he was given the name ?Punderdelime?, meaning crocodile tail, connoting strength and maturity. In 1972, Brother Pye produced his first book, The Port Keats Story. He was awarded and Order of Australia Medal in 1986 in recognition of his service to Aboriginal people.

He had devoted his retirement to gathering oral histories and writing about the communities to which he had devoted 60 years of his life: Daly River, Port Keats (Wadeye) and the Tiwi Islands.

Brother John died on 28 May 2009.

Adapted from an article appearing in the Sunday Territorian 31 May 2009.

The theme, Top End Catholic Priests and Religious, was selected through consultation with Larrakia Development Corporation.

Register & Gazettal information

Date Gazettal Comment
04/12/2009 Date added to the Register
09/12/2009 NTG49
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