This song comes from Murray Island, which is called Mer in the Meriam language.

This is danced to while sitting down cross-legged. It's called a "sit-down" dance. You can learn how to dance to "Taba Naba" below.

Taba Naba - Torres Strait Islands Children's Songs - Torres Strait Islands - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

Some add to the end: "Style!"

Then move in a way to show your style!

It seems possible that the Wiggles version with Christine Anu (her mother is a native of Torres Strait Islands, from the island of Saibai) added "Style!" to the end of the song.

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This song was also called "Naba Naba". According to the book, "Landscapes of Indigenous Performance: Music, Song and Dance of the Torres Strait Islands and Arnhem Land" (2005) by Fiona Magowan and Karl Neuenfeldt, this song may have its origins in an American song from 1903 called, "Navajo" by Egbert Van Alstyne and Harry B. Williams. It's possible that military personal from the Torres Straits Islands picked up the song during WW2 when they spent time with westerners.

The first line of the refrain of "Navajo" is, "Nava, Nava my Navajo". The Meriam Mir language doesn't have a "v" sound so it changed to "b" as in "naba". Verbs beginning with "naba" mean "we" (all). "Taba" means "come". Thus, taba naba can mean, "let's come".

Two well-known recordings of this song are by The Mills Sisters and the Wiggles with Christine Anu. The Mills sisters said the song is traditional.

Game Instructions

Sit-Down Dance Directions:

Sit on the floor crossed legged throughout the song.

Line 1: Swish your hands back and forth against each other parallel to the floor.
Line 2: Right hand touches the floor in front of you and then your left shoulder.
Line 3: Left hand touches the floor in front of you and then the right shoulder.
Line 4: Right hand touches the floor in front of you and then your left shoulder.
Line 5: Left hand touches the floor in front of you and then the right shoulder.
Line 6: Both hands up in the air, then touch shoulders, then on the waist and sway back and forth.

Taba Naba - Torres Strait Islands Children's Songs - Torres Strait Islands - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Comment After Song Image
Watch
This is Anthony Field from the Wiggles singing the song with Christine Anu. They add the line, "Style!" to the end of the lyrics above. Then they show their style!

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"Tana Naba" is the first song in the video below.

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Image #1: Mer Island, UNSW, Australia.

Image #2: Leo and George on Mer (Murray Island), Torres Strait in 1907, taken by Alan McCulloch.

Au Esoau!

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