The Torres Strait Islander flag was raised above Newcastle City Hall on Wednesday for the first time in the iconic civic building's 92-year history.
The occasion, on National Sorry Day, also coincided with the launch of an exhibition celebrating Torres Strait people and their culture at Newcastle Art Gallery.
City Hall became the first civic building in Australia to have the Aboriginal flag flown above it in 1977, an initiative of the late former lord mayor Joy Cummings.
The current council committed to flying the Torres Strait flag in recent years, but waited until the building's refurbishment works had concluded to do so.
At a ceremony on Wednesday, the flag was raised as a cultural performance took place in Civic Park.
Newcastle-based artist Toby Cedar, who performed with his two sons Brayden and Elijah, said it was a proud day for his family to see the flag raised for the first time and know that it would be flown in perpetuity.
"It makes me feel proud my people are being included and acknowledged," he said.
The WARWAR exhibition opening at Newcastle Art Gallery on Saturday will showcase Torres Strait traditions and customs.
"It is through visual art, dance, and song that ancestral stories and legends are maintained and passed on to the younger generation, and it is important that exhibitions such as this are supported to assist in this preservation," exhibition curator Brian Robinson said.
"For the local Torres Strait Island communities, the exhibition is a way of reconnecting back to the islands; back to family and friends; back to a rich and vibrant history defined by amazing customs imbued with ceremonies and rituals that have endured for thousands of years."
The free exhibition will run May 29 to August 22 and has been timed to coincide with significant dates including Mabo Day, Reconciliation Week, 'Coming of the Light' and NAIDOC Week.
Newcastle Art Gallery director Lauretta Morton said the gallery had been acquiring works of art from Torres Strait Islander artists since 2017.
Many of those pieces, along with artworks on loan, would be on display for the first time, she said.
"WARWAR features a diverse range of works of art that showcase the evolution and strength of Torres Strait Islander tradition and society through arts practitioners from the 19th century and the emergence of the contemporary art traditions of today," Ms Morton said.
"It explores issues of cultural maintenance, Christianity, language and the impact of globalisation on the physical environment of the Torres Strait Islands, which are located in the narrow stretch of water between the land masses of Zai Dagam Daudai (Australia) in the south and Naigai Dagam Daudai (Papua New Guinea) in the north."
Exhibiting artists include Joseph Au, Grace Lilian Lee, Glen Mackie, Billy Missi, Laurie Nona, Brian Robinson, Dr Ken Thaiday and Alick Tipoti.
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