Photo: Ivaritji wearing a wallaby-skin cloak, photographed by Norman Tindale in 1928.


This article is about the person. For the park named after her, see Whitmore Square ~ Iparrityi.

Ivaritji (c. 1849 – 25 December 1929), also known as Amelia Taylor and Amelia Savage, was an elder of the Kaurna tribe of Aboriginal Australians from the Adelaide Plains in South Australia.
She was “almost certainly the last person of full Kaurna ancestry” and the last known speaker of the Kaurna language before its revival in the 1990s.

c. 1849
Port Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
25 December 1929
Point Pearce, South Australia, Australia
Other names
Amelia Taylor, Amelia Savage
Weaver, cook
Known for
Kaurna elder; last native speaker of the Kaurna language

Ivaritji, variously spelt Iparrityi, Iveritji, Ivarityi, Ivarity, Everity and Everety, means “a gentle, misty rain” in the Kaurna language.

Ivaritji was born in Port Adelaide, South Australia, in the late 1840s to Ityamai-Alpina, a leader of the Kaurna people, and his wife Tankaira of Clare, South Australia.
Her childhood name was “Itja Mau”.
She had a younger brother, Wima; an older brother, James Phillips; and several other siblings who died young.

Locations in Ivaritji’s life.
1 Port Adelaide
2 Clarendon
3 Point McLeay Mission
4 Point Pearce Mission
5 Moonta
The Kaurna, who may have numbered several thousand before European contact in the 1790s, was devastated by the introduced diseases and disruption to their way of life it brought, and few were left in the Adelaide area by the 1850s.
When Adelaide became more populated during its early colonisation by European settlers, the tribe moved south to the Clarendon district, where its members led semi-nomadic lives in and around the southern Adelaide Hills, travelling between ration depots.
Ivaritji’s family became well-known in the region, with her parents referred to as “King Rodney” and “Queen Charlotte” and Ivaritji “Princess Amelia” by the local white settlers.
When both her parents died in the early 1860s, Ivaritji was adopted by Thomas Daily, Clarendon schoolmaster and distributor of rations to Aboriginal people, and his wife.
She stayed with them for several years, learning to read and write in English, before rejoining other Aboriginal people.
By the late 19th century, Ivaritji and several remaining Kaurna members had moved to the Point McLeay Mission.
There, Ivaritji worked as a cook for reverend George Taplin and married George Taylor (c. 1859 – 1915), an Aboriginal man from Kingston. After briefly working as a domestic servant in Norwood, she moved to the Point Pearce Mission Station, where she lived for many years.
On 20 December 1920, she married Charles John Savage (1853 – 1932), a man of African American descent, at the Holy Trinity Church in Adelaide.
Charles was not permitted to live at the Point Pearce Mission with Ivaritji as he was not Aboriginal, so the couple moved to Moonta, where they lived in a small cottage on a section of an Aboriginal Reserve called ‘the Crossroads’.
The Chief Protector of Aborigines, William Garnet South, denied the couple the licence to the 18-acre reserve surrounding the cottage, instead allowing them only 1 acre and licensing the rest to a white farmer.
Later, Ivaritji received £1 monthly rent from a farmer who cropped the land.
She supplemented Charles’ pension and her rations by selling mats and baskets woven from discarded baling twine collected from neighbouring fields. She was a common sight in the Moonta township, where she spruiked her handicrafts to residents and tourists.
In 1929, she moved to a shared cottage on the Point Pearce reserve, as she had been struggling to support herself and was ineligible to receive an age pension due to being a “full-blooded” Aboriginal and thus considered a ward of the state under the laws of the time.
She succumbed to pneumonia on Christmas Day 1929 at the Point Pearce hospital, leaving no direct descendants.
At her death, she was referred to as the “last of her tribe”; however, numerous descendants, although not of entire Kaurna heritage, of her paternal aunt and other Kaurna people were still alive and have descendants of their own lives today.

During the later years of her life, Ivaritji was interviewed and photographed by multiple people, including Daisy Bates, John McConnell Black, Herbert Basedow and Norman Tindale.
She shared many Kaurna words and place names with them, as well as insights into aspects of Kaurna culture and the early colonial history of Adelaide.
She was considered such an essential source that the Anthropological Society of South Australia paid her expenses to travel from Moonta to Adelaide to be interviewed in 1928.
Her knowledge was later used to revive the Kaurna language in the 1990s.
Whitmore Square in the Adelaide city centre, a popular gathering place for Aboriginal people, particularly in the 1930s and 1940s, was dual named in her honour in 2003.
Development plans were approved in 2014 for a “Hotel Ivaritji” bordering the square, but the project was abandoned in 2021.
A display is dedicated to her in the South Australian Museum’s Australian Aboriginal Cultures gallery.

By Peace Truth

Life is like a bunch of roses. Some sparkle like raindrops. Some fade when there's no sun. Some just fade away in time. Some dance in many colors. Some drop with hanging wings. Some make you fall in love. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Life you can be sure of, you will not get out ALIVE.(sorry about that)