Alf Conlon
ASOPA: THE FUTURE

Camilla Wedgwood

Wedgwood Camilla Hildegarde Wedgwood [1901-55], anthropologist and educationist, was born in England, a descendant of Josiah Wedgwood, the master potter. In 1920 she went to Cambridge to study anthropology. She passed with first-class honours in 1924 but the university did not award degrees to women until 1948.

In 1928 she was appointed lecturer in anthropology at Sydney University from where, in 1932-34, she undertook fieldwork on Manam, a volcanic island of 4000 inhabitants off the north coast of New Guinea. She then spent 1935 in Nauru.

It was clear from her research on Manam and Nauru that, in spite of her own unmarried independence, she saw a subordinate role for women in marriage and the wider society as part of the natural order.

In 1935 Wedgwood was appointed principal of Women's College at the University of Sydney. As principal and daughter of a well-known British Labour politician, Lord Wedgwood, she was a public figure in Sydney, prominent in charitable causes as well as a member of the strongly pacifist Quakers.

In 1944 Wedgwood was commissioned lieutenant colonel in the Australian Army and served as a research officer in Alf Conlon's Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs. Here she developed policies for postwar educational reconstruction in Papua New Guinea, where she served intermittently in 1944-45. On an army bivouac, when offered a cigarette by her young cadets, she replied: “No thanks, I roll my own”.

Following demobilisation in 1946, she became a popular figure at ASOPA, where she was senior lecturer in native administration.

Camilla Wedgwood died of cancer on 17 May 1955 at Royal North Shore Hospital. A girls' secondary school at Goroka in the New Guinea Highlands and a memorial lecture in Port Moresby were named after her and her friend James McAuley dedicated his poem Winter Nightfall to her.

Author: David Wetherell

Photo: Australian War Memorial

Read more in The Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Comments

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Colin Hayward

Ray Batt knew he was seriously ill back in about 1978 and told me, 'I tink I die, Col'. About a year later I heard that he went to Sydney, bought a lifeboat and decked it and was found dead later adrift off the Queensland coast.

He was a good mechanic and could fix just about anything. He fixed VW's that broke down on the Safari run that the Moresby VW team could not patch up. And he got Ross Maunsell's (Kwikila headmaster's) Cherokee I think it was, working again after Ross arranged to get the students to slash the old strip then couldn't get off again.

I missed you - I think you were at Rigo before me. Gus Henry had left the school the year before I was appointed as an English EO2. I became secretary of Rigo Country Club for a couple of years, then I moved to Kila Kila until the end.

It was a good school - probably one of the best in PNG, and Kwikila wasn't a bad posting (in comparison with some). Utz Wellner was a friend of mine. I never knew his wife who was killed in Moresby.

I married Helen Butler who used to be married to Rex, and we stayed on in PNG until the end finally came with the extinction of ASAG.

I am not in touch with any of the other B4s now. Best wishes.

John Wedgwood Pound

Good article about Camilla Wedgwood, however I must correct one detail. The Wedgwood family were not historically Quakers.

Josiah Wedgwood 1 was a Unitarian, his mother was the daughter of a Unitarian Minister. Before and after that most were probably nominally Church of England. No Quakers to my knowledge.

Basil Potts

I would like to get in touch with teachers and students who were at Kwikila High School in the years from 1966 to 1968.

Utz Wellner

John Leah - I have been trying to find David Caddies for years. Can you let me have his contact details?
utz@wellner.com.au

Mari Ellingson

My gosh what a wonderful, interesting story. She passed away exactly 2 months after I was born.

Denis Murrell

I've searched this website and I've googled until well-past midnight and there's not one mention of the ASOPA anthropology lecturer, Mrs Wylie. I'm afraid I can't remember her first name [it may have been Marie] and I may have the spelling of her surname wrong as well. Does anyone know what became of her after she ceased lecturing at ASOPA?

 Carolyne Agnew

I stumbled onto your website. As coincidence would have it, I met Roger Wellner a long time ago. I met him through an acquaintance of mine first on a very sad occasion. He had come round to a house I was sharing with three other people in 1971. He was with his brother Utz and only stayed for a short time. I later learned that his brother's wife had just been killed in a road accident.

I later came to know Roger quite well and when we were living together for a while in Sydney his brother Utz came to visit.

We went our separate ways. Recently I decided to try and get into contact with Roger again and could only find a contact address over the internet for Utz. He is living in Brisbane. I wrote him an email
to ask how he and his brother have been keeping. Unfortunately Roger had an accident in 2004 and died after a fall. Utz still lives and works in Brisbane.

All the very best to you.

Tommy Rosser (jnr)

Re John Leah. I remember him well: a schoolie, lovely wife Angie and kids and drove Peugeot vehicles. Liked a few drinks at the Rigo Country Club and laughed a lot! Not bad at darts either. Kokebagu manager at that time was Ted Lazaron. Ern Sharp is still alive in Sydney. Get in touch John, I can fill in a few blanks for you. Tom

John Leah

Cripes! I posted that on the Camilla Wedgewood entry! No idea how I did that! Meant it to be a general posting. I did look at the Wedgewood page so I suppose that's how I did it.

I was curious because I won some little Camilla Wedgewood prize for writing a half reasonable paper in Anthropology at ASOPA, but nobody ever told me anything about the person in whose memory the prize was given. But I never forgot the name! And now I know! She sounded like a great woman! Gutsy!

John Leah

Greetings to any former ASOPA friends out there. I think there was some notice from me on this site years ago along with my contact email, but my email addy (that's what the kids say) has changed. It is now: smpa@aapt.net.au

I'm still in touch with David Caddies but most ASOPA people I knew have vanished and many PNG friends have died, alas. I think of Mairi Mahutu, Jonbili Tokome and Sevese Morea, all former colleagues at 9PA. Wonderful guys, all of them.

Still in touch with Brian Halesworth who was the Director of Education at the ABC Port Moresby, but I don't think he was an ASOPA chap. Keith Jackson and Lester Goodman would know him. Does anyone know the fate of wonderful Douggie Fyfe? Probably left us now and is reciting baudy Rabbie Burns poems in heaven?

Pleased to see Hal Holman is mentioned here. Is he around? Hi Hal! Whatever happened to that HUGE catamaran you had almost finished in Moresby?

Anyone from the Rigo Country Club? Dick Roberts? Who was that ADC out there at Kwikila? Great guy but the memory is unreliable these days. Ern Sharp (Sharpe?). Wasn't he the ADC who witnessed a murder, arrested the perpetrator as Kiap, brought him to trial as prosecutor, tried him as judge, gave evidence against him as witness, then dismissed the case on the grounds that the trial was unfair and a verdict would be unsafe because the judge was related to the principal witness and the prosecutor? Something like that. So the murderer walked free but as Ern was walking down the Court steps he saw a relative of the victim neatly slice off the murderer's head with a machete. Payback! It was a great yarn and earned Ern lots of drinks of whisky and rum and coke at the Rigo Country Club whenever he recounted it and went white and shaky in the process. But I'm still not sure if it really happened.

Anyone who was ever at the Rigo Country Club might have met one of the greatest 'characters' I ever met - Ray Batt, a mariner in the great grain races under sail. Imagine that! A sailor such as that, still alive during my lifetime. He was a Newfoundlander with a funny accent and the roughest, toughest ways of anyone I ever met. But we all had affection for the rogue.

Gus Henry was another character i recall from Kwikila (and Sogeri) days. Big, tall, merry Scot. He divorced up there and married Puke Rova of Hula. How about those Moddra (Modra?) sisters at one of the plantations and running the Kwikila store? And who was the guy who was running Kokebagu plantation?

Vlad Cizauskas (ex ASOPA) is still in Brisbane I think, but have lost touch. Of my other old ASOPA classmates and PNG colleagues I know little. Oh, Basil Potts is in WA and I have his email address.

Wayne Gurba of Kila Kila finished his steel yacht, 'Ion', and sailed it home to Florida, but his wife Katherine didn't trust his sailing so flew back, I understand. I never saw Utz Wellner again after leaving, but I always recall his touchingly beautiful young wife and her tragic death on the Ela Beach road.

How did any of us survive the grog? Ah! I can smell the rum and coke and the dank odour of rotting vegetation even now. Anyway, always pleased to receive a blast from the past if anyone is around?

Cheers, John Leah

PS: Does anyone know in which year the National Broadcasting Corporation finally pulled 'Doctor Kanini' - a school health adventure drama I produced - off the air? It went for ages, apparently. No money to modernise it, I suppose!

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