People - Phebe Clothilde Parkinson

Plantation Owner

Born: 1864  Samoa.  Died: 28 May 1944  Bo Internment Camp near Namatanai, New Ireland.

Daughter of the American Consul at Apia and grand-daughter of a Samoan chief, Phebe was married to the German scientist Richard Parkinson at age 16. In the 1880s, Richard and Phebe came to New Britain and settled on the Gazelle Peninsula to help her sister, 'Queen' Emma, establish coconut plantations.

See: Phebe Clothilde Parkinson's online memoir.

Lilian Overell in a A Woman's Impressions of German New Guinea describes her stay with Phebe Parkinson at Kuradui in 1920. A marvellous host, 'Miti' entertained her guest royally and arranged numerous excursions to show her visitor plantation life. However anxiety over what was to happen to the family under the terms of the Mandate were foremost in Miti's mind at that time. She wrote to Lilian on the 1st November 1920:-

My children have all come up from their plantations so that we may be together when we learn our fate. All firms and companies are liquidated, but the private people not yet. We wait patiently, but the time is long. I never leave Kuradui now, preferring to stay always at home with my dear children, for who knows what the future will bring? If my children are deported, what shall I do? And if I am deported, what will become of my poor blacks? You know, some of the Bukas have been in my service for three generations. I send you photos of Kakun and Bomate. Poor old Bomate is dying, so she is safe.

In 1922, the Australian Government decided that the Samoan women and their families, including their German husbands, were all allowed to remain and keep their plantations. However Kuradui was expropriated as it was listed as an asset of the German company, HASAG. As an elderly woman Mrs Parkinson then spent years recruiting labour and in 1942 was living with her grandson Rudolf Diercke who managed Komalu plantation on the west coast of New Ireland.

Related Entries



  • Lillian Overell, A Woman's Impressions of German New Guinea, Second edn, The Bodley Head Ltd, London, 1929, 224 pp.
  • Robson R.W., Queen Emma, Third edn, Pacific Publications, Sydney, 1973, 239 pp. Chapter XXX The Tragedy of Phoebe Coe Parkinson tells the story of Queen Emma's sister.

Book Sections

  • Margaret Mead, 'Weaver of the Border', in Joseph B. Casagrande (ed.), In the Company of Man. Twenty Portraits by Anthropologists, Harper & Bros, New York, 1960, pp. 175-210.


See also

Mrs Parkinson

Mrs Parkinson

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