Watson, Lepani Kaiuwekalu (1926–1993)

Andrew Connelly, Arthur Smedley

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


    Lepani Kaiuwekalu Watson (1926–1993), politician, lay preacher, community leader, and welfare officer, was born in 1926 at Vakuta village on the island of the same name in the Trobriand group, Territory of Papua, elder son of Watisoni Upawapa, chief of the top-ranking Tabalu dala (matriline), and his wife Iribouma of the second-ranked Toliwaga dala. In his early teens Lepani passed the examination to enter the Oyabia Methodist mission school at Losuia station, Kiriwina Island, where he worked between lessons as a gardener and fisherman to earn his keep. The closure of the school during the Pacific War in 1942 brought an end to his formal education. He worked in the kitchen for an Australian army survey team at Oyabia, as an interpreter for a United States Army officer, and then as a foreman for the American quartermaster. Another American officer tutored him in English and taught him to type. In 1944 he was sent to the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit’s school for native medical orderlies on Gemo Island, Port Moresby, for six months’ training, returning to work at Losuia as a clerk at the native hospital. He married Sarah Charles, daughter of a Trobriand Methodist minister, in 1945.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAustralian Dictionary of Biography
    Editors Tiping Su
    Place of PublicationXian, Shaanxi
    PublisherShaanxi People's Publishing House and the Australian Studies Centre at the Xi'an International Studies University
    ISBN (Print)9787224135534
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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