eJournal of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies
Issues 1.2 and 2.1, April 2010


Jim Griffin, born 1929, died in Canberra on Sunday 9 May 2010. A graduate of Melbourne University, Jim was a senior history teacher at Xavier College, Melbourne, before going to Port Moresby. From 1968 he served terms as Senior Lecturer and Professor in the History Department and Professor of Extension Studies in the University of Papua New Guinea. In 1991 he was granted the distinction of Professor Emeritus. Between appointments at UPNG, he was Head of Department at the Townsville College of Education (subsequently amalgamated with James Cook University) and in 1980-81 and 1984-86 he was Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Pacific and Asian History at the Australian National University. He was a contributor to, and a member of the Editorial Board of, The Journal of Pacific History. Later, in Canberra he was a Pacific Islands specialist with the Office of National Assessment.

A gifted teacher and with an exceptional command of language, he used his voice superbly as singer, raconteur and debater. That same facility with words was apparent in his writing. His main publications included: Papua New Guinea: A Political History (with Hank Nelson and Stewart Firth) 1979; translated into Japanese 1994; editor and contributor to several volumes including: A Foreign Policy for an Independent Papua New Guinea, 1974; Papua New Guinea Portraits, 1978; and Tourism and the Future, 1977. He was the author of the fine biography: John Wren: A Life Reconsidered, 2004. In addition, he was a frequent contributor to other edited volumes, scholarly journals and the media. His articles on Bougainville and the Torres Strait pioneered new understanding. He wrote several authoritative entries for the Australian Dictionary of Biography and recorded interviews for the Australian National Library oral history project.

Jim is survived by his wife, Helga, three sons, three daughters and grandchildren. Helga recorded her early life in her autobiography: Sing Me That Lovely Song Again, 2006.


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