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Mike Butcher
Research materials on Donald Gilbert Kennedy c1929-2010

MSS 0203

Biographical Notes

Mike Butcher

Mike Butcher was awarded a MA degree from Latrobe University for his thesis on Donald Gilbert Kennedy in 2010, completing research which had begun 20 years previously.

“Butcher's interest in Kennedy arose through knowing one of his sons, Tonileti (Don) Lipine Keniti (Kennedy), whose mother was an Ellice Islander, and who had been raised on Vaitupu, the island where Kennedy developed his school that was to transform education in the pre-war Ellice Islands. In 1988, Butcher and Keniti interviewed Harry Maude and his wife Honor in Canberra because Tonileti wished to know more about his father, whom he did not meet until he was 16 years old. This was the beginning of Butcher's research on Kennedy, which intensified in 2006 when he was approached by Tonileti to republish his father's Field Notes on the Culture of Vaitupu, Ellice Islands (1931). Butcher then wrote his biography of Kennedy as a master's thesis at La Trobe University.”(From review by Richard Bedford in The Journal of Pacific History Vol. 47, Issue 3, 2012)

His MA thesis was subsequently published as '... when the long trick's over': Donald Kennedy in the Pacific (Holland House, 2012. (Available in the Pacific Collection 325.3410996 B9835w)

Donald Gilbert Kennedy

Of Scottish descent, Kennedy was born in 1898 in New Zealand and attended the local public schools in Oamaru. He started a teaching probation and an Arts degree before enlisting in the Army in 1918, and at the end of WWI taught at the Otaki Native College where he learnt Maori. Upon his marriage in 1920, he joined the colonial service as an assistant master at the Boys Grammar School in Suva, Fiji. The following year he was appointed as headmaster to the Banaban School on Ocean Island in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. In 1923 went to the Ellice Islands to found and direct a new school where, as the only European official in the island group, he acted as administrative officer and was made Native Lands Commissioner in 1934.

As headmaster, Kennedy instituted tough discipline and a competitive environment, controlled by often physical punishment. An inventive and practical technician, he set up a radio transmitter and established regular radio contact with the outside world, and also built a schooner, the Namolimi. He was also committed to extensive ethnographic study, his Field Notes on the Culture of Vaitupu, Ellice Islands, being published first in The Journal of the Polynesian Society and as a book in 1931.

In 1938 Kennedy left Tuvalu on a Carnegie Travelling Scholarship for Oxford University and completed a Diploma in Anthropology, and was then appointed to Ocean Island and then to the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. During WWII he evacuated Europeans and Chinese, set up radio transmitters and became a Coastwatcher, reporting on Japanese movements from behind enemy lines, and with his guerrilla unit of Solomon Islanders he ambushed Japanese patrols and rescued downed American airmen. Kennedy was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the USA Navy Cross.

After the war he returned to New Zealand and published Te Ngangana a te Tuvalu: a handbook on the language of Tuvalu, spent a brief time as administrator in Fiji before being assigned to resettle the Banaban people of Ocean Island, who had been deported by the Japanese, on Rabi in Fiji. Kennedy’s relations with the Banabans however deteriorated and he was removed from his position and soon retired from the Service, taking up cattle breeding in New Zealand before spending some time as advisor to Vaitupu people who had resettled on Kioa Island in Fiji. After being expelled by the islanders he lived on his private island of Waya until 1973 when ill health forced his return to New Zealand, dying in 1976 at the age of 77. He had fathered eight children by five different women and was survived by his three wives.

A loner, an aggressive heavy drinker, a philanderer and at times a bully, Kennedy was a difficult personality. He could also be charming and erudite, had a great sense of humour and demonstrated good leadership.

“… who was remarkable in terms accomplishments as educationalist, colonial administrator and amateur ethnographer, not to mention his wartime record. Kennedy was also, in equal measure, a distressing individual, and his name has become a byword for drinking, violence and womanising on the fringes of empire.” ‘ …when the long trick’s over’: Donald Kennedy in the Pacific by Mike Butcher (Holland House, 2012), p. iv

Maude
He felt, with good reason, that he was the most capable man in the government service and yet had to watch others, lackadaisical juniors like myself, arriving late on the scene and yet moving up the rungs of promotion to the top when he had the utmost difficulty in obtaining a transfer from the Education Department to the bottom of the administrative ladder.

Contents Listing

Series 1. Thesis

‘Not an ordinary man’: Donald Gilbert Kennedy in the Pacific / Mike Butcher. (MA thesis. La Trobe University, December 2010) PDF file (225 p.) (1 CD)

 

Series 2. Interviews

Interview between Canadian historian Dr Jim Boutilier and Major Donald Gilbert Kennedy on Waya Island, Kadavu, September 1969. Transcript only. 46 p. (print copy plus Word & PDF on 1 CD)

Mike Butcher interviewing Dr James Boutilier at the Canberra Hyatt Hotel, 12 October 2007. Transcript only. 15 p. (print copy plus Word & PDF on 1 CD)

Interview with Dr Harry Maude and Mrs Honor Maude with Donald Lipine Kennedy (Kennedy’s son) and Mike Butcher at the Maude’s home, Namatjira Drive, Weston, ACT, 24 September 1988. Transcript, 29 p. (print copy plus Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD)

Interview of Donald Lupine [ie Lipine] Kennedy with Mike Butcher on 16 October 1988 at Don’s home in Huntly, Victoria. Recording and transcript, 12 p. (print copy plus Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD)

Interview between Mike Butcher and Margaret Bishop [Kennedy’s daughter] at her home at 501 Fordyce Road, Parakai, near Helensville, New Zealand 13 December 2006. Recording and transcript, 17 p. (print copy plus Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD)

Interview between Mike Butcher and Ailsa Murray [Kennedy’s daughter] at Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 29 September 2007. Recording and transcript, 14 p. (print copy plus Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD)

Interview between Mike Butcher and Anne Anderson [Kennedy’s daughter] 5/10/2007. Recording and transcript, 12 p. (Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD) RESTRICTED - ACCESS ONLY WITH PERMISSION FROM ANNE ANDERSON

Interview between Archie Kennedy (Kennedy’s son) and Mike Butcher at Feltex Carpets, Tottenham, Victoria on 27 September 2006. Recording and transcript, 16 p. (Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD)

Interview between Mike Butcher and Ray Kennedy (Kennedy’s nephew) at his home in Invercargill on 20 November 1988. Recording and transcript, 13 p. (print copy plus Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD)

Interview with Captain Stan Brown by Doug Munro on 1 August 1997. Recording and transcript, 8 p. (print copy plus Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD)

Interview between Mike Butcher and Professor Hugh Laracy in his office at the University of Auckland 12 December 2006. Recording and transcript, 13 p. (print copy plus Wave sound file & Word file on 1 CD)

Note: Not all interviews and transcripts were received, although the preface to ‘ … and when the long trick’s over’ states that all interview recordings were lodged with the Barr Smith Library. All digital files have been copied to shared drive.

 

Series 3. Source materials collected for thesis

(WPHC = Western Pacific High Commission)

Western Pacific Archives. WPHC, Secretariat, Suva. Inventories / list of correspondence 1925-1941 etc. 1 CD.

Western Pacific Archives. WPHC, Secretariat, Suva. Index and registers general correspondence 1954-59. 1 CD.

Registers and Indexes of general correspondence files, 1–100 series. 1942 – 1954; General correspondence files, 1–100 series. 1942–1954 (c. 1929– 1955) / Secret correspondence files, 1–100 series. 1942 – 1954 (1936 – 1964); Secret correspondence files, 100–200 series. 1954 – 1959 (1956 – 1960) / Correspondence Files. 100–200 Series. 1954–1959 (c. 1940–1965) / General correspondence 200 – 300 series 1960 1966 / General correspondence 200 – 300 series 1960–1966 / Confidential correspondence files, 200–300 series. 1960–1966. (1955–1967) etc

WPHC. Great Britain. High Commission for the Western Pacific Islands. Selected correspondence and map of Vaitupu. 2 CDs (1 labelled MSS & Archives 2003/1) Copied from files held by Auckland University Special Collections.

WPHC. Register of service: British Solomon Islands Protectorate, New Hebrides, Gilbert and Ellis Islands. Expatriate staff A-Y 1931-1956 (WPHC 15/1/1) 1 CD (labelled Establishment records. Registers of Service 1910-56 …) Copied from files held by Auckland University Special Collections.

WPHC. Great Britain. High Commission for the Western Pacific Islands. Staff service records A-Z, and Cartland, B. Other WPHC correspondence files 1925-41. Kennedy correspondence register/log ca 1930 (part only) 1 CD (labelled Scanned images. Great Britain. High Commission for the Western Pacific Islands. MSS & Archives 2003/1) Copied from files held by Auckland University Special Collections.

WPHR records relating to George Hard in the Gilbert & Ellice Islands colony. 1 CD. Copied from files held by Auckland University Special Collections.

 

Cheryl Hoskin
January 2017

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