Social Indigenous Enterprise We Are Warriors (WAW), supported by creative innovation studio R/GA Australia, has been selected to produce the City of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve Calling Country live performance as part of the 9pm firework show.
Lead image L-R: WAW co-founders Ben Miles & Nooky.
The performance will feature a special Welcome to Country projection, and a nine-minute original score accompanying the 9pm fireworks show. Pylon projections, a collaboration between WAW, R/GA, illustrator Janelle Burger, Vandal and 3D artist Jock Holyman, will depict how stories passed down through generations keep Indigenous culture and identity alive.
WAW’s Calling Country concept, ‘Buried Country,’ reinforces the message that we are always on country, even in the urban landscapes of big cities. Using the story of Pemulwuy, a Bidjigal man and a renowned resistance fighter, the projections celebrate his spirit of resistance and resilience, along with Indigenous icons past, present, and future, with a focus on the next generation.
Janelle Burger, a Noongar artist, has crafted bespoke illustrations of iconic Indigenous figures, including Cathy Freeman, Anita Heiss, Adam Goodes, Patty Mills, Barkaa and others, which will be integrated WAW’s and R/GA’s creative. Janelle brings elements of pop culture, fashion, and video games into her designs. Yuin artist, rapper, and Triple J Radio host Nooky, the founder and creative director of WAW, is a vital voice in the Australian music landscape, known for his no-holds-barred, hyperactive brand of rap.
Nooky said, “At the end of the year we’ve had, we want to let our people know they’re loved, they’re seen, and they’re heard. That they are Warriors. It’s time to reflect on and awaken the stories of this country that have been buried by the history we didn’t write. We’re going to share stories of great warriors like Pemulwuy and Warriors of the past, present, and today. We are going all out projecting images onto the Harbour Bridge putting Blak excellence on full display for the world to see. From the visuals to the music we pursued, to reflect what a calling to country is. We are calling to our old people for strength in this moment and to also celebrate their achievements and the knowledge they have passed down. I hope to create a memorable event for everyone to take part in. This platform allows us to share our truth, our stories, our voice with the world.”
Ben Miles, co-founder of WAW added, “There’s never been an activation of this magnitude designed for the Indigenous population. We pitched fiercely, and we went brave with staunch and powerful messaging. After the Referendum, its significance has heightened. We want First Nations people to hear empowering words from Pelmowoy that affirm their greatness. We’ve been intentional, we want these words to uplift, energise, and resonate across the nation, fostering unity, love, and empowerment.”
The 9pm soundtrack, set to the pyrotechnics display, is an original production by Nooky and Aria Award winner and Grammy nominee Vincent Goodyear (18YOMAN). The track blends an anthemic hip-hop sound with traditional First Nations audio. For the Calling Country live performance on the ABC stage, Nooky will be joined by fellow members of hip hop supergroup 3%, Noongar rapper Dallas Woods, Gumbaynggirr singer Angus Field, as well as Woorabinda artist Jada Weazel. The performance of the track ‘Buried Country’ will feature Muggera dancers.
Michael Titshall, CEO of R/GA Australia, said, “The City of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour is a massive spectacle. The nature of the program means that over 400 million people will witness the show. What We Are Warriors, in partnership with R/GA, will do is elevate Warrior stories both on site and through a digital experience. They will show Australia their importance, and allow the audience to have a deeper connection with such an important message.”
Sydney’s New Year’s Eve, produced by the City of Sydney and on Sydney Harbour is one of the first major cities to celebrate the New Year, drawing a massive crowd and reaching a global audience of over 425 million through TV broadcast. The City of Sydney event has a strong focus on recognising First Nations culture and includes projections of Aboriginal imagery with Indigenous artists Re-Right Collective the architects of the 2022, 9pm show. The Calling Country 9pm fireworks are a celebration of First Nations stories, culture and people.