Hank Nelson

Hank Nelson graduated from the University of Melbourne. He taught in government schools and at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology before being appointed to the Administrative College in Port Moresby in 1966. In 1968 he joined the History Department of the University of Papua New Guinea, where he taught until he moved to The Australian National University in 1973. After initially joining the Research School of Social Sciences, he was appointed in 1975 to the Department of Pacific and Southeast Asian History, where he held various positions before becoming a Professor in 1993. After he retired in 2002 he continued his association with ANU as Visiting Fellow, Division of Pacific and Asian History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, and as Chair of the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program. His books include Papua New Guinea: Black Unity or Black Chaos and Taim Bilong Masta: The Australian Involvement in Papua New Guinea. Hank wrote on a wide variety of topics and he and his work are remembered by students and colleagues in The Boy from Boort, published by ANU Press (2014).

Black, White and Gold »

Goldmining in Papua New Guinea 1878–1930

Authored by: Hank Nelson
Publication date: July 2016
Australian goldminers were among the first white men to have sustained contact with Papua New Guineans. Some Papua New Guineans welcomed them, worked for them, traded with them and learnt their skills and soon were mining on their own account. Others met them with hostility, either by direct confrontation or by stealthy ambush. Many of the indigenous people and some miners were killed.  The miners were dependent on the local people for labourers, guides, producers of food and women. Some women lived willingly in the miners’ camps, a few were legally married, and some were raped. Working conditions for Papua New Guineans on the claims were mixed; some being well treated by the miners, others being poorly housed and fed, ill-treated, and subject to devastating epidemics. Conditions were rough, not only for them but for the diggers too. This book, republished in its original format, shows the differences in the experience of various Papua New Guinean communities which encountered the miners and tries to explain these differences. It is a graphic description of what happens when people from vastly different cultures meet. The author has drawn on documentary sources and interviews with the local people to produce, for the first time, a lively history.