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 Post subject: Herbert William Champion
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:09 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:35 am
Posts: 211
DOSS: 29 Jun 1971
From today's Post Courier 1/6/11
A ‘Champion’ of Papua

He secured a job with the firm and found himself accommodated with other single male employees in a corrugated-iron cottage on the site of the main store which later was the Tribal Den and KMC before it got burned down last year.


Herbert William Champion, a former Government Secretary and acting Lieutenant – Governor in Port Moresby died in Sydney on Thursday May 18 1972. He was 92.
Mr Champion was born at Kaiapoi in New Zealand on August 8, 1880. He arrived in Port Moresby in 1898 on a Burns Philp steamship.
He secured a job with the firm and found himself accommodated with other single male employees in a corrugated-iron cottage on the site of the main store which later was the Tribal Den and KMC before it got burned down last year.
One of young Champion’s first tasks was to supervise the unloading of the company’s vessels. The jetty was on the harbor immediately below the store and the two were connected by a railway over which trucks containing the cargo were pushed by hand.
The stevedores at the time were the women of Hanuabada. When a ship left Sydney bound for Port Moresby, the expected date of its arrival was telegraphed to Thursday Island. A schooner then brought the message across to the town and on the appointed day, Champion sent word to the village for the workers.
Invariably, many more came than were needed and the young man had the unenviable task of choosing those who were to be employed. The rejected ladies returned home, hurling abuse at the overseer as they went.
The workers received a shilling a day and a midday meal for their labours. It was not until more European women came to live in the town that the Hanuabadans began to suspect that wharf-laboring was not usually considered to be women’s work and the practice came to an end.
Champion’s character and ability were soon noticed by Governor George Le Hunte who offered the young man a position with the Administration at Daru. However, the salary offered was less than the he was receiving from Burns Philip and he declined.
Later, the Governor approached him again with a better offer and this time he accepted and began work at the Government Store. His boss was Henry Chester, the son of the Thursday Island magistrate who had, in 1883, tried to annexe New Guinea on behalf to the Queensland Government.
Soon after Champion began work with the administration, Chester was killed in an accidental fall. Champion was given Chester’s job and he later also married his widow and took up residence with her and her children in the Old Rectory in May Street which Bishop Stone-Wigg had made available for her use during her lifetime.
It was while working at the Government Store that Champion was reluctantly drawn into the web of intrigue, malice and back-stabbing which was poisoning the life of the small expatriate community.
Champion noticed that Resident Magistrate C. A. W. Monckton at Tufi ordered far more stores than the other district officers and when he drew the government Secretary’s attention to the matter, the Secretary offered that Monckton’s supplies to automatically reduced.
Monckton was furious and the intense dislike and contempt he already felt towards the Secretary, Anthony Musgrave, increased.
Musgrave had been with the Administration since the beginning, and he tended to irritate and exasperate his fellow officers with his pompous and incompetent ways.
The Treasurer, David Ballantine, was an able but arrogant man who had no time for Musgrave. He was impressed with the efficiency of the new storeman and arranged his transfer to the Treasury as his assistant. Any objections Musgrave might have had at this action were easily overcome, as Ballantine was the close personal friend and supporter of the Administrator, Capt Francis Barton.

The Government was divided into two factions. The Administrator had on his side the Treasurer and the Commandant of the Constabulary, W. C. Bruce and field officers like Monckton.
Musgrave had fewer supporters. H.H. Stuart-Russell, the Surveyor General, had clashed with the Administrator and was an ally, along with his brother, who also worked in the Land Office; but events were later prove that he had the most powerful friend of all.
Observing all with a sardonic eye, but at this stage seemingly neutral, was the Chief Judiciary Officer, Hubert Murray.
The situation within the Government became increasingly scandalous and Barton himself prodded the Australian Prime Minister into taking action by requesting Royal Commission to inquire into the working of his Administration.
The Commissioners arrived in Port Moresby in September, 1906, and proceeded to take evidence from the Government officers who all observed a mafia-like silence on the true state of affairs in the Administration. It was not until later, when Murray, who had been away on tour when the Commissioners arrived, gave his carefully prepared testimony, that all was revealed. The judge came down firmly on the side of Musgrave and his evidence damned the Administrator in the eyes of the Commissioners.
On their recommendation Barton, Ballantine and Bruce were dismissed and Murray himself eventually given the Lieutenant-Governorship.
Champion had very unwillingly, and only under pressure from the Commissioners, testified against Musgrave and for Ballantine and he was rebuked for what the Commissioner considered to be his insubordinate attitude towards the Government Secretary.
This could very well have been the end of his career. He had come down in support of the losing side and his prospects for future advancement in the new Murray Administration must have seemed to be very dim.
However, the Commonwealth Auditor, who had been investigating affairs at the Treasury, strongly commended his work and he was eventually appointed by the Australian Government to succeed his condemned boss.
Despite the Commission’s scathing criticism of Ballantine, Champion retained his respect for the former Treasurer’s ability, and when the beaten and humiliated man drank himself to death on his plantation at Sogeri, Champion believed that he had been judicially murdered.
Champion did not allow his personal feelings to influence him in work and he gave, as Sir Hubert’s executive officer, utterly loyal and dedicated service.
Indeed, it was possible that some of the credit which Murray has received of his enlightened regime may rightfully belong to Champion, and the way he implemented the Lieutenant-Governor’s policies, on the tiny budget at his disposal from his office in Hunter Street where ANG House now stands. Murray, on his part, had complete confidence in his Government Secretary and bored with desk work in Port Moresby, left the details of his administration in Champion, while he undertook his long voyages and expeditions of exploration and pacification.
On Murray’s death in 1940, Champion was appointed Acting-Lieutenant-Governor. He was the last man to hold this office and when, after months of deliberation, the Australian Government appointed Leonard Murray to succeed his uncle, the position was down-graded to that of Administrator.
If Champion had hoped to be given the job, he concealed his disappointment and continued to serve the younger Murray as faithfully as he had the elder.
However, the days of both men in Papua were numbered. They were unable to cope with the situation in the country after Japan’s entry into World War 2 and the arrival of thousands of Australian troops sent to meet the threat of imminent invasion.
On the order of the Australian War Cabinet, they published on February 14, 1942, a Government Gazette Extraordinary stating that civil administration would end at noon that day and would be replaced by a military government.Champion’s life’s work was finished and it was a sad ending to a distinguished career of 40 years.
However, there were consolations. He had the CBE which Sir Hubert Murray had secured for him and his three sons, Ivan, Claude and Allan, carried the family name with great distinction through the war years and in the new civil administration which followed.
Herbert Champion lived quietly in retirement in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood with his devoted second wife and he managed almost completely to dismiss his years in Papua from mind.
Later, under prompting from historians, and with the help of Mrs Champion and his sons and step-sons, that he allowed himself to recall again the events of what he confessed that he sometimes thought of as a long nightmare.
However, there was no doubt at all that he had bequeathed the city he helped to establish, if not actually found, a legacy of great worth. It was he who planted and personally cared for, a great number of the trees now growing in the city centre and at Konedobu.
The casuarina avenue on Ela Beach, the mangos in Hunter Street or what’s left there today, the tamarinds in the parade which bears his name (Campion Parade) from the Post office to Steamships head office and many more are his gift to the city which was his home for so long. Musgrace street is the main street through down town Port Moresby from Ela Beach to old Burns Philip which joins onto Champion Parade.Hubert Murray is the road from Koki up two mile hill to Boroko and the 1969 SP Games venue at Konedobu, the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium. Many of the casuarinas, mangos and tamarinds have been lost over the years, most of them wantonly or stupidly destroyed, but a little remains to give the present-day city a small reminder of its charm and distinction and its citizens great pleasure and comfort.
If Herbert William Champion had done nothing else, his trees would have made him worthy of being held in high honor. In fact his whole career of selfless service marked him as being one of the great men of Papuan history.

Bogia, Saidor, Tari, Komo, Tari

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