Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner says Australia Day is a “date of mourning” and has called for changes to the January 26 celebrations to acknowledge “Aboriginal contribution” to the national identity.

Gunner also said his government would move to increase the usage of Indigenous place names and official recognition of frontier atrocities committed against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

While avoiding any mention of a date change – which has raised tensions between Melbourne councils and the Federal Government – Gunner said he would urge the Northern Territory Australia Day council to “explore new ways forward.”

Speaking in Jabiru over the weekend to mark his Labor government’s one-year anniversary, Gunner said more than “acknowledgement of country and a smoking ceremony” was needed for a genuine celebration.