Cairns deaths: Families hold memorial for eight children killed at Manoora home one year on


By: Kirsty Nancarrow

About 200 people have turned out at a community event in memory of eight children who were killed in a Cairns home in far north Queensland a year ago.

The bodies of the four girls and four boys, aged between two and 14, were discovered in a house on Murray Street at Manoora, less than a week before Christmas last year.

The mother of seven of the children and aunt to the eighth, Raina Thaiday, was charged with their murders.

The matter is due to return to court mid next year.

Cairns pastor James Gela from the Keriba Yadyl Torres Strait Islander Corporation has been helping the families through their ordeal.

He said while it was not in keeping with traditional custom, they decided to put on a public event on Saturday as a one-off remembrance day.

children killed in cairns
Tributes remain at a fig tree near the Manoora home where the eight children were found stabbed to death. Image via ABC News.

The day is titled Serer Ge Buai Giz – Au Esoau Kemer Kemer Uteb Narid which, translated is “Celebrating Family — Thanking The Wider Community”.

“Twelve months on, it’s a positive gesture and part of that healing process,” he said.

“The families can’t really thank the community enough for the support they’ve been giving.

“Following that incident and right up until now the support has been overwhelming.”

Two public events will be held over the weekend.

A special one-off remembrance day began at 1:00pm, which included a community barbecue and concert.

The event ran until 5:30pm in the Stan Williams Park at Brothers Leagues Football Club in Behan Street at Manunda, with a barbecue and activities for children in the park.

A public concert was held from 6:00pm until 8:00pm in the park.

On Sunday, a pastoral service and tree-planting ceremony will take place from 11:00am to 1:00pm at Green Park in Murray Street at Manoora.

Children performing songs of Murray St at Xmas street party on Tuesday.

The home in which the children died has since been demolished and is now an extension of the neighbouring park where friends, family and strangers have continued to lay tributes.


Eight fruit trees remain, and the family will plant eight frangipani trees of different colours during Sunday’s ceremony, the first stage of a permanent memorial.

“The idea behind that was that… at the anniversary of the incident… these trees will blossom so it’ll be a sign of new life,” Mr Gela said.

The event on Saturday included activities and a concert in which local children will perform the “Songs of Murray Street”, a collaboration with local musicians.

“One of the things that came out of the grief, loss and trauma was looking at ways or methods that could actually engage people and help them without being a too hard approach to it,” project co-ordinator Michael White said.

“One of the things about expressive therapies, it’s using the mediums of music, culture, arts, those different forms and bringing people together.

Eleven-year-old Ellie K Kata sang on the album and said the last week had been rough.

“I think most people know them, most of the people in the street know them, so it’ll be a pretty hard time but I think everyone in our street will get through it,” she said.

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This post originally appeared on ABC News.