by Professor Brij Lal, Acting Head, School of Culture, History and Language in the College of Asia and The Pacific, The Australian National University.
Emeritus Professor Hyland Neil (Hank) Nelson AM
[Learn about the Hank Nelson Memorial Endowment]
The community of Pacific scholars is mourning the death of Professor Hank Nelson. Hank was an institution at the ANU for nearly four decades. He was the world’s premier historian of Papua New Guinea, a gifted teacher of undergraduate and graduate students, a mentor to graduate students and research scholars alike, and a wonderful departmental citizen. At various times, he served as Associate Director of the then Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies and as Convenor of the Division of Pacific and Asian History. He filled all these and other roles with distinction and integrity. But above all, Hank was a scholar, a man with a golden pen. He invariably put aside his own work to read and comment on the work of others, improving them considerably in the process.
On a personal note, Hank was my closest colleague in the Coombs Building for over two decades. He introduced me to the nuances of Australian culture and to the culture of the Australian academy. He read much of what I wrote since the mid-1990s, corrected my prose and alerted me to stylistic infelicities.’Short sentences, mate, short sentences,’ he would say. ‘Write to be read rather than simply get ahead.’ Most important, he constantly urged me to keep at the forefront of my mind the reason why I was in the academy.
Hank will be missed. I know that I will not see the likes of him in my own lifetime. Hank, the boy from Boort, was a legend.
- ‘Sitting on a tractor, reading a book’ (Ken Inglis and Bill Gammage, InsideStory 28 February 2012)
- ‘Professor Hyland (Hank) Nelson AM’, Statement by Member, Parliament of Australia (29 February 2012)
- Tribute to Hank by Dr Peter Stanley, Australian War Memorial (at the Memorial Service to Professor Hank Nelson AM, University House, ANU, 24 February 2012)
- Tribute to Hank by Dr Klaus Neumann, (at the Memorial Service to Professor Hank Nelson AM, University House, ANU, 24 February 2012)
- ‘Award-winning academic dissected PNG’s history’ (Jon Fraenkel, Stewart Firth and Bryant Allen, Canberra Times 2 March 2012)
- ‘Hank’ (Gavan Daws, ANU Pacific Institute blog, 6 March 2012)
- ‘Rural past aided PNG’s finest scholar’ (Fraenkel, Firth and Allen, The Age, 8 March 2012)
- Notes from a speech on behalf of SSGM (Sinclair Dinnen, Memorial Service to Professor Hank Nelson AM, University House, ANU, 24 February 2012)
- Eminent historian Hank Nelson dies in Canberra (Keith Jackson, 18 Feb 2012)
- ‘Hyland Neil ‘Hank’ Nelson AM’ (Ian Howie-Willis, The Journal of Pacific History, June 2012)