Vale Jack Ah Kit – the NLC mourns the passing of a great leader

Date: Jul 13, 2020

Publication Type: Newsroom

The Northern Land Council mourns the passing of John Ah Kit – known better to many as Jack Ah Kit or just Jack – who passed away on Sunday 12 July at the Royal Darwin Hospital.

Jack was a much loved member of the NLC family and his loss will be deeply felt by NLC Full Council members, traditional owners, native title holders, community members and staff.

Jack’s memory will live on in us all. His words, his actions, his love for country and for his country men and women. By all of these things we will remember him.

Jack first came to the NLC as an elected council member in 1983 for the Katherine township and the following year was appointed as Director of the NLC, a position he held until 1990.

During that time the NLC was engaged in its most active period of land claims under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 as well as resisting major attacks on the Land Rights Act federally and locally.

Always a staunch defender of the interests of Aboriginal people in the NT and of the Jawoyn people around Katherine in particular, during this time Jack and the NLC played a central role in defending Jawoyn interests against mining proposals over Guratba (Coronation Hill) and oversaw the handback of Nitmiluk National Park east of Katherine in 1989.

In 1991 Jack was appointed Executive Director of the Katherine-based Jawoyn Association, holding that position until he resigned in August 1995 to successfully contest the October by-election for the seat of Arnhem in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly for the Labor Party.

After 6 years in opposition in 2001 Jack served as a minister in the Martin Labor government – the first Aboriginal person appointed as a minister in the NT.

Before retiring from elected politics in 2005 he had held a number of portfolios, including as Minister for Community Development, Housing, Local Government, Sport and Recreation, Regional Development and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Indigenous Affairs.