Winston Francis MONK



Winston working the sheep on the family’s farm up the Puhi river near Kaikoura


parents Elsie HAMILTON & Frank MONK      mother Elsie HAMILTON as a girl


Winston’s grandparents:

Elsie’s Port Glasgow father Robert HAMILTON lost at sea in 1882

Elsie’s East End mother Annie Hope BLAKE (1842-1938)

Frank’s Cotswold tearaway father Richard James MONK (1829-1916)

Frank’s Irish-Indian mother Margaret Letitia THOMSON (1838-1930)

(Some say these were not Frank’s parents but his grandparents, and that Frank’s true

parents were Andrew RUTHERFORD and their eldest daughter Emily Jane MONK)



Grandpa Hamilton grew up in this Port Glasgow close.      Winston an NZ toddler with his Hamilton cousins




with his cousin Gwen and older brother Owen

Winston F Monk 
Ludley, Kaikoura

and with his horse Toi at home in Ludley, Kaikoura


Winston Francis MONK 1912-1954

-born in maternal aunt Charlotte's house at Torquay Street, Kaikoura. His father Frank was on the Kaikoura Council.

-from 1918 Winston’s parents moved to Auckland 1918. Frank was a trotting racer and owner and they appear to have lived in the Mangere area -Winston attended Mangere school.  In Mangere Frank may have been associated with horsebreeder Hugh Ross Mackenzie, the notable sportsman and civic leader. On the proceedings of his time in Auckland, Frank returned to Kaikoura in 1922. Winston was educated Kaikoura Town School, -rode his pony along the Puhi Valley to and from school from the family farm at Woodburn.

Frank purchased the Ludley estate next to Kaikoura racecourse.

Governor General Lord Bledisloe views Kaikoura with council leader Frank Monk


-St Andrews School, Christchurch; Canterbury University College, Christchurch.

Became an accomplished gymnast.  Began diary which he continued for many years.

-1935 awarded Rhodes Scholarship to Oriel College Oxford.

Rhodes scholarship celebration dinner at Kaikoura before leaving New Zealand


Winston jotted details of family history from Grannie Annie Blake before leaving NZ


He left Wellington for Sydney on the Marama, then prepared for the long sea voyage from Sydney to England on the P&O Maloja.  Travelling with him was 1851 Exhibition scholar Jack Mitchell who was travelling from Canterbury University College to study Chemistry at Oxford


P&O Maloja

Some extracts from Winston MONK's diary entries on the journey to England

Sydney Thursday August 15 1935: Returning we saw on the one hand the little Marama, with Maori footballers on board, and so full with passengers that shakedowns had to be used, going down the harbour; on the other the giant, black dual funnelled, rather high, but stoutly, bulkily built Maloja coming up the Harbour to her berth in Pyrmont. Jack got good photos of her in a splendid setting just resting beneath the great Harbour Bridge. We are well-pleased with her appearance. Back up Macquarie Street from Circular Quay, via the Governor`s residence, the Mitchell gallery and Houses of Parliament (State), Hyde Park and the War memorial to Buckland Chambers. Tea at the Y.M.C.A., a read of the paper, a pineapple (at 4d), writing this up and soon to bed. Out of this germ-laden hole tomorrow sometime, probably in the afternoon, and on to the Maloja.

16th  Up late, took photos of Harbour bridge from a point round from Circular Quay, up to Bridge and up a pylon. For organized robbery it took the bun. Dozens of girls waiting at every turn, with something interesting to sell you. A fair view, but hazy.  We got our tickets etc. from the P and O (MacDonald, Hamilton and Co.), a body of Englishmen in a foreign city it almost appeared to me. We then went aboard the Maloja, a magnificent black ship, with splendid room and deck space. I have a good cabin that compares favourably with Jack`s Ist Saloon, though the appointments are rather less in quality and quantity. Still, water, drawers, cabin heater etc, reading lamp and an obsequious Ay-ah steward are not to be sneezed at.

 Aug 17 1935 Saturday -not a bad breakfast and lunch on ship. Jack and I down to see B. and H. off on the Oronsay. The Oronsay is most luxuriously appointed for the 1st  class, having 2 or 3 decks of sheer superstructure dedicated almost entirely to lounges, restaurants and the like. Nothing short of palatial.

August 18 1935 Sunday  An interesting day with the A.s. Jack and I joined them at St. Stephen`s Church in Macquarie Street, newest great church in the Empire, about £100 000 worth; light, modern, capacious, dignified, and lined with the beautiful Queensland maple.

August 19 1935 Monday  Again an interesting day, beginning with Jack`s experience with his steward. Finding Clare engaged on telephone Jack went back to ship and left his coat on bed. Returning a few minutes later he found the steward going through his pockets. He called for the Chief Officer, and they found the steward with a pound note, of which Jack had the number. - caught that is red-handed. In evening, having thought over the matter and on the steward approaching him with the story of a wife and family, clean record and all that, Jack relented, I think wrongly, but at least generously.  Bought 2 prs of pyjamas 7/6 and 4/6 and 3 sox at 13/- in town, and panama hat at 7/6, leaving me stony.


The Maloja sailed from Sydney (Aug 23rd) via Melbourne (25th), Adelaide (28th), Fremantle (Sep 2nd). Then across the Indian Ocean to Colombo (September 12th), Bombay (14th), Aden,


Photo sent to Winston by Nelly Steckler, a Swiss fellow passenger on the Maloja, inscribed Stürmische See zwischen Adelaide u. Fremantle 31. Aug. 1935


September 22 1935 Sunday In the morning early we were within sight of land on either side of the Gulf of Sinai. On both sides high cliffs of sandstone, and showing geological formation in their layers, rose abrupt and bare. Not a blade of grass or a tree anywhere; now and then a light house. The temperature was not so bad as a cool breeze was blowing.  About 11.30 a.m. we anchored in Suez, about 2 m. W. of the Canal which commences at Port Tewfik. Suez with its white flatroofed houses, and its roads studded now and then with date palms looked just as one would expect it to, from looking at photographs of the Egyptian East. There was some picturesque shipping about, the most remarkable of all being an Italian vessel laden to well below its Plimsoll line with nitric acid to use with Abyssinian cotton to make explosives for the projected Italo-Abyssinian War. The acid was in casks like beer kegs, and according to International regulation was stowed, not below, but on every available inch of deck space. Even the life-boats were packed with these casks. Just at lunch time, after we had answered our names before the Post medical officer, the Maloja moved towards the entrance of the canal at Port Tewfik, a place of a few buildings surrounded with beautiful green foliage of date and other palms.  We moved very slowly up the canal in stifling, but fortunately dry heat. On the Egyptian side there were occasional clusters of buildings and green trees, and a road and railway ran alongside. We were not permitted to travel at greater speed than 6 m. p. hour except on the Little and Great Bitter Lakes where you could scarcely see the land on either side of the canal. But for the main of its course there`s not room for two great ships to pass, if both are under weigh. One has always to tie up to the bank. We saw only a few odd camels and donkeys, for unfortunately the greater and most interesting part of the canal we passed during the night. The heat was intense but on the Sinai and desert side of the Canal we saw Arabs and donkeys working away affecting repairs, apparently oblivious to the boiling sun.

September 23 1935 Monday  Woke up at 5 a.m. to find the ship berthed at Port Said, and to find a number of Egyptian and French passengers (92 all told) clambering about on board looking for their berths.  Port Said, especially looking from the harbour, was very picturesque; like Suez it gave the appearance, with its fine white, two and three storied flat topped buildings, the silvery shimmering harbour, encased with artifical bars, and its varied shipping, from great steamers, to battle cruisers, airoplane carriers and little Arab yachts and dhows, of being straight out of a postcard picture.  As usual in the East we were beseiged with touts, selling here Turkish Delight (which is full of ants and must not be brought on board ship); cigarettes of all kinds, bracelets, cloves, beads and precious stones; and French pictures of the crudest kind. Both French and English seem to be spoken commonly. There is still that smell of the East that we`ve noticed so much, though here not so heightened.  A great many French got aboard too, bound for Marseilles. The ship is absolutely thronged.  This afternoon, leaving the greenish waters of the Nile mouth, we are sailing luxuriously across the smooth blue waters of the Mediterranean, full of sacred memories of the birth and nurture of civilization. It is a good deal cooler now, but still warm enough to be more than pleasant. 

September 27 1935 Friday We arrived at Marseilles about 10 a.m. Early in the morning steep whitish cliffs of the French coast were visible. We entered the harbour of M. from the seaward right, passing towered islands on the left. The Chateau D`If. looked formidable enough though not as big, tall and with only eyes for windows and situated on the barrenest of rocks. M. was shrouded in mist, but we saw on the right the turrets of the church of Notre Dame de la Garde commanding the city and the ocean approach. We anchored at the P.+O. dock. The outward-bound Mosltan was also in port. It was strange being in this great city where everyone spoke French. The wharf labourers came on board and did all the same jobs that in other ports had been done by Englishmen or natives, but here they did it in French. 

September 30 1935 Monday Tangier and Gibraltar  Up before 6 a.m. to see the sun rise of Africa. We passed Gibraltar rock on our right and went across to the bay of Tangier shaped like a pair of tongs built up with moles. Little shipping in the harbour. The town was like Port Said, of white treble storied flat topped buildings, but rather more picturesquely situated on higher but typically N. African barren hills. As usual the purveyors of wares came out in the small boats to sell them to the passengers. Most of our was not awake so I doubt if they did much trade. They send the stuff up on to the deck with a piece of weighted string which they use with fine accuracy. - a basket is attached then and drawn up by the passenger (a la Colombo - Bombay - Suez - Aden - Port Said).  Having disgorged our French passengers we left for Gibraltar about 8 a.m.; and steamed very slowly to reach there just before 11 a.m. It is indeed a great barren rock completely commanding the entrance to the Mediterranean. The other and African side is no distance opposite. Gib juts well out and with its visible (not to speak of packed invisible) fortifications, and its great buildings that themselves look like fortifications, looked formidable in the hazy morning air.  The harbour is on the Atlantic side, fairly dep in and sheltered, running in practically to the neck of low-lying land separating it from Spanish territory. The Gibraltar fleet, with the Hood, Q. Elizabeth and Repulse (I think) lay berthed within against the naval mole, at the Africa end of the harbour. The naval area seems to be pretty severely cut off from the rest, and to occupy the commanding position. The ships did not appear very big alongside our own, which, comparatively speaking, stands so high out of the water. We went as one in hundreds about 11.30, the distance of 200 yards costing us ridiculously high 2/- return in the tender. and saw as much as could well be seen in the  2 hours at our disposal. The Municipal area is really large, and with some fair buildings, but of course there are no suburbs, so Gib. cannot be compared with a town elsewhere. The streets are, as might be expected, very narrow, barely providing room for 2 cars to pass; they are heavily walled and there are practically no footpaths. some are cobbled, especially in the town, which is old; some bitumen as on the hills and military positions. The population one would think was principally Spanish, though among the shopkeepers in the main street, one caught glimpses of English faces.  Donkey-drawn vehicles (from Spain probably) carry their burden of grapes and bananas and apples. The trees we saw there, though the main of the vegetation was dried up, were very beautiful, some reminding me of the Australian wattle, even fine leaved gum, and jasaranda trees. Jack tells me they were Canadian ash, a species of pine, with beautiful light green feathery leaves, and hedges of Spanish cactus.    Africa we saw best after wending our way up hill and down to Europa Point, facing on the Mediterranean, and looking across. Then back and up to the Moorish castle as far up the rock as we are allowed without a permit.  Earlier by the way, we went across to the Spanish town of Algeceras, being permitted across the border without passports! And only for a wine. You leave the moles on the harbour side, and keep to the bay side, past a great silhouettic face of rock, that is the steep part of Gib. and we`re told rabbit-warrened with guns, across a small no  -man`s land, past untidy Spanish offices, to this small town.  The main street and central square were not prepossessing, being narrow, cobbled, crowded in with walls, unpathed or badly pathed. The shops were little different from the residences. The restaurants open on the street in the Marseilles manner, looked dusty and unclean. We went in a cleaner-looking bar room and had some reasonably good cheap Spanish wine at 3d a glass - a little bitter, but insipid. Returning we had bad Danish beer, ham sandwich and prawns in the main,, narrow street of Gib., and wine at 6d in the Quay-place`s restaurant  Back then, and by 2.15 p.m. away again. As I write this about 5 p.m. we are traversing the last of the great open stretch of Trafalgar Bay, skirted with barren Spanish hills. Opposite is Tangier and the last of Africa. Draughts and chess in the evening.

October 3 1935 Thursday England The Eddystone lighthouse must have come into sight about 8.30 a.m. though I, lying in, didn`t see it - and then from behind till 9.30 a.m.  Cool and boisterous weather about us, but on our left was England, green fields, red cliffs, a rock bound coast, with white breakers dashing on the jutting rocks, pleasant rounded undulations behind cliffs decked with groves of beautiful greenish brown trees, close packed together and in little coves townlets firm ensconsed. No sign of overpopulation in the country facing seawards from Plymouth. In the part green above the cliffs and sometimes on the cliffsides themselves a stone building placed, as if in jeopardy from the winds of the storm. Everything landward, green fields, hedgerows, trees, wonderfully placid, contented, serene while the storm raged without.  A poor harbour at Plymouth one would imagine, though we`re only anchored within the first breakwater. There looks to be little real shelter or scope further in. But there you are a glorious vista of Old England.  Busy getting prepared to leave the ship, packing and making necessary arrangements prior to landing. Nothing much of interest happening. We had quite a rocky trip up the Channel though in easy sight of the English coast possibly all the way from Plymouth to Gravesend.

October 4 1935 Friday London The Maloja arrived at Gravesend about 6 a.m. and not long afterwards berthed at Tilbury just opposite the hotel of that name. Struggled to get gear packed, breakfast, and passports fixed. I lost 10/- in final tips to the stewards, which really was not a bad escape; but they`d cost me 30/- already.  Quite an interesting train journey of an hour. My word it was good to see the green fields of England. The day was wet when we arrived, and although it persisted fairly warm, was a trifle wretched. Everything appeared dour, and smoky sooty London has just been drenched with heavy rains; perhaps that accounts for the excessive greenness of everything. If England and London are crowded, they make the very most of their open spaces. We passed a few backdoor backdoors in the train today, but mostly it was pleasant green fields with down sheep and well conditioned cattle grazing; beautiful green wild herbage in many a spot, and even where factories were thick, green plots were scattered about. Along the edge of the railway itself were gardens actually on the edge of the area, and many a private garden off it. We passed innumerable lengths of appartment houses, long lines of building all of a pattern, with doors and back gardens opening out also of a pattern. Still every one almost had the garden filled with bright autumn flowers and greenery. Yes, the bright flowers were indeed striking everywhere today.


Oriel College Oxford 1935-39

At Oriel College Winston shared accommodation with German Rhodes Scholar Gunther Motz

Spain: March-April 1936

Belgium: June 1936

 Germany and Olympic Games Koln Essen Berlin Munchen July-August 1936

Cycling tour of Austria and Italy: August 1936

memories of Munchen –card from Josef Maier, November 1936


Study in Oxford & London

Memories of home: postcard of the Puhi Puhi taken form Cholmodleys (Kaikoura pharmacy W. McD. Baker M.P.S)


In October 1937 Winston travelled to London with an old New Zealand friend, Lilian Jeffreys. She shared a flat with an American, Betsy Anderson, and an Irish-Burmese girl Kay Bruen, studying geography at University College.  Winston was instantly smitten with Kay and would visit the flat regularly while studying at the Public Record Office.

 Kay  -Kathleen Elizabeth Bruen)

Kay in Cornwall with Joyce Berryman and Joyce’s parents, July 1938.

Winston was waiting for her at the station when Kay got back to Paddington

Kay and Winston got on well from the start, they shared many friends and academic interests. Encouraged by Winston’s experience in travelling widely across Europe by rail and bicycle, they crossed to Paris for the royal visit in July 1938.

Essen September-October 1938 with Gunther Motz

Christmas box from pre-war Germany


Chamonix with Kay Bruen Spring 1939


In January 1939 Wiston Monk and Kay Bruen travelled to ski at Chamonix in the French Alps with Winston’s NZ airman friend Minden Blake and Kay’s Rangoon friends Tiger and Peter Ady.  They enjoyed the home comforts of the Hotel de l’Arve where Tiger made a hit with little Lisette, the innkeepers daughter.  At the Caveau nightclub the New Zealand men displayed their gymnastics on the dancefloor and the Ady siblings their dancing. 


That summer, after obtaining a Geography MA at London University, with her special study of rice in Burma, Kay returned to Rangoon in 1939 expecting to find work in Asia.

Letter to the Times appeared 31 August 1939


On the outbreak of war, Winston enlisted in the Army (New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Anti-Tank Battery). He cabled Kay in Rangoon to come back to London to marry him immediately. It was an offer she could not refuse.


Winston and Kay’s marriage at a London registry office on 27 November 1939 was witnessed by their Chamonix companions, Kay’s friend from Burma, Peter Ady and Winston’s New Zealand airman friend Minden Blake.  Winston’s parents were horrified at long distance by this sudden turn of events.  They thought their promising son’s head had been turned by a temptress.  Kay had instantly ceased to follow Catholicism long before when she’d been told by the nuns that her Burmese friends could never go to heaven.  But Winston’s rigid mother back in Kaikoura did not see a Rangoon convent girl as any kind of suitable mate. She wrote that Winston was ”breaking his father’s heart” and warned: “once a catholic, always a catholic”. The rift was not healed for many years.


Resigned from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force

1940-1950 Senior History Master, at Westminster School, London England

(evacuated to Shoreham-on-Sea, and Bromyard, Herefordshire)

-except during a year’s absence in 1943 as a British Council lecturer at Bogota, Colombia,

travelling on Atlantic convoy

At Westminster Winston Monk made a memorable impact on a generation of boys, and they on him: Richard Wollheim,  Anthony Bridbury, Tony Benn, Stephen Barratt, Oleg Kerensky, Crispin Tickell, and Roger Young.  At first, for pupils and teacher, the experience of wartime news and upheval, unusual accommodation, and the powerful effect of the Herefordshire landscape, challenged all sorts of certainties.


Richard Wollheim                  

Winston Monk’s alternately stern and apologetic letters to Kay, separately evacuated to Dorset with her St Felix Girls School pupils, capture the disjointedness of his life, the inner values which made him feel apart from the world of Christian soldiering broadcast all around him.  Going to and fro on a bike lent him by young Wollheim, sometimes covering 20 miles between classes, he could reflect in May 1941. Still thundery, the weather. But exquisitely lovely when the sun’s out.  I stood 10 minutes on Woodcock hill just now, coming back to lunch: The sweetest landscape I remember, something of mellow Oxfordshire, with a hint of wildness to remind me of Switzerland and elsewhere.  The warm bosom of earth, Alive, and her gently breathing on my face and hair and hands.  Why aren’t you here sharing it with me?  The Hood gone, and now the Bismark.  That’s justice, as Ellis wrote in an essay recently, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!

Staying at Whitbourne Hall with an army-bred Oxford Group family whose unscrupulous goodness was sometimes unbearable, and a victim always of the phobia of social pressure, here he was forced to take it at full blast.  You should have seen us all on Monday night sitting listening to the BBC account of the Bismark sinking. Twelve of us with One feeling of fine elation.  If I’d known it was going to be quite so sickening, I wouldn’t have stayed, tho’ I was anxious to hear what was happening.  When ENSA people on the radio wildly cheered Alexander’s announcement that the Bismark was sunk (and 2000 Germans gone down with her) he felt really physically sick, with absolutely nothing that could be done about it.

Provost Ross of Oriel

 The upper History class –so close in years to himself- he kindly regarded as a poisonous lot of young dissolute unpatriotic atheists but the affected certainty of his elders made him uneasy, even Provost Ross (who had written to say he was now of age to take his MA).  How these people impose upon the world!  Treat human lives –complete universes –like pawns in their pretty game of chess!  Absolute Good, Truth, Beauty, Love … Absolutely theirs, to be imposed on Others at any cost – because it’s God’s very own will and they are his servants, his prophets, his executioners.  He was vaguely interested to read Virginia Woolf in The Waves. Terribly psychological and Freudian, but very Real. No wonder she jumped into a lake. And: Crete seems lost: another Churchill venture.  It will only increase our Faith in his leadership.  What is Führer-worship anyway?  .  A few days later adding: But I suppose the Being is above criticism now, like Shakespeare.  


One of Winston’s pupils later wrote:

"Winston was simply the best teacher I ever had.  I owe him a lot for bringing out from the recesses of my developing mind such analytic and narrative skills that I might have and which certainly proved useful in many ways during my professional life as a diplomat.    When I was 15 or 16 and "mere" knowledge often seemed the easiest route to academic success, I learnt from Winston something of the importance of structure, style, conciseness and argument.    I don't recall him emphasizing these matters as such - rather, they grew naturally out of his comments and criticism of my work and that of others.   At the time the entire History VII at Westminster numbered perhaps six to eight pupils, generally covering three years or so of the 15-18 age bracket, so it was like being exposed to the tutorial or seminar system at an early age.   It suited me very well and I am sure the other form members would agree.

"The technique Winston used was to assign each of us a different topic for the weekly essay, instructing us as to the books to read (either from the school library or sometimes borrowed specially for us from the London Library).   After he had read, assessed and written comments on our essays, each of us in turn read them out to the other pupils and some sort of discussion followed.

"Two or three times during the term he would give us a General paper (four questions on almost any topic that ranging from the political to the cultural) or a single Essay to be written over three hours on a topic he gave us.   I cannot remember any of the Essay titles but when I took my scholarship exam which included, in addition to a General paper, an Essay, I was not remotely upset to be required to write for three hours on the subject of Humbug.   I believe that this sort of training has gone out of fashion and if this is the case, it is a cause for regret.  It encourages a well-stocked mind and the ability to argue a case on a wide range of matters.  Winston certainly developed any innate abilities in this direction that I had and they did help me in later life.

"He was also the master who supervised the school debating society, of which I was secretary for one year.   He pretty well let us get on with things as we saw fit.

"Winston's politics were what we would now call left-of-centre.   This did most of us a lot of good but at no time was there any attempt to indoctrinate us.  It was, if you like, that we were aware that this was his standpoint and it was left to us to challenge or agree with any opinion as we saw fit.  In our last two years he and Kay would once or twice invite a couple of us round in the evening for coffee or sherry.  In the tiny Barton Street flat this was not administratively easy but we were glad to go round for a general chat.   Life was pretty bleak at school and this sort of occasion did help morale!"


Winston Monk on bias in history teaching 1949.


Daily Telegraph Culture clinic: Tony Benn 22/09/2007:

“Tony Benn submits to a little light therapy. Kate Weinberg reports

Patient's notes Name: Tony Benn Age: 82

Tony Benn believes in truth and reconciliation

Patient examination

Who are you most like, your mother or your father?

TB: I've drawn heavily from both –

 my mother's deep understanding of religion and commitment to justice

and my father's passion for peace, internationalism and human rights.

Which teacher do you remember best from school?

TB: Winston Monk, my history teacher, who was killed in a Comet air crash.

I remember him because he encouraged me. Encouragement is the most important

thing in the world for young people, rather than league tables, which demoralise everyone…”





While he was still a teacher at Westminster, Winston’s parents visited London to meet him and his family and see the Olympic Games in 1948

The first contact since his departure as a scholar in 1935.

Winston’s father died soon after returning to New Zealand




Winston Monk became senior lecturer in history, Victoria University College, Wellington, in 1950.

Here he made an impression on a new group of students, including a visiting 1952 Fulbright scholar Robin Winks, later to become Randolph Townsend professor of history at Yale and chair of the history department there.  Writing about his impressions of The Vic in 1952, Winks wrote:  “And so, there was Wellington, in its natural setting surely one of the most striking cities in the world.  There were the New Zealanders, about as provincial as I was, and therefore as comfortable as the proverbial old shoe.  There was Weir House, cold, powerfully dark at night, where I had to stand on a table top in my room to reach an overhead light socket in order to plug in my electric razor, shaving each morning by feel.  There was the history and anthropology faculty of Victoria, brisk, even brusque in the English academic manner, full of wisdom I wanted.  There was a country of incredible beauty, a people—the Maori—of unending fascination, and a task that, though constantly redefined, never failed to attack me, into the field and back to the desk.  I studied with Mary Boyd, who knew everything there was to know, it seemed to me, about the Pacific islands and the interaction between their indigenous peoples and the encroaching Europeans.  There was Peter Muntz, who taught European history and the philosophy of history, and wrote poetry.  There was J.C. Beaglehole, the grand biographer (though not yet) of Captain Cook.   And Winston Monk, whose little book British in the Western Mediterrranean intrigued me, but whose course in American history intrigued me even more.

“In formal educational terms, the most useful experience I had in New Zealand that year was Winston Monk’s course.  I sat in on it out of curiosity and soon discovered that Monk had only been to the United States once, during the war, and then only to Norfolk, Virginia, with a hurried leave to New York (or was it Washington?).  I knew precisely where Billings and Anniston, Providence and Spokane were, and he did not, so I was a little scornful at first, in the way of callow youth.  But slowly I began to realize that I was learning American history as I had never learned it before.  Until then the books of Ralph Henry Gabriel and Henry Steele Commager, and the courses of Colin Goodykoontz and Robert Athearne at the University of Colorado, had meant the most to me, as I had tried to decide what being an American meant in historical terms, but now Monk’s course joined that list.  He came to the American experience from so different a perspective, one I thought wrong then and still think wrong in important particulars as I look back on it, but none the less he came to America without the conventional wisdom, the assumption that America represented the good, the future, the triumphant, in all that it did.  He made me a bit cross at first, and then he made me think, so as to refute him, and finally he gave me a sense of unending excitement with how we may learn about America by studying other cultures.  I learned then that he who knew only his own country knew not his country, and that whatever label my scholarship might bear at some future time—the history of the British Empire, the comparative history of race relations, ethnic history, imperial history—it would, in some way, be about the notion of American exceptionalism, about how other societies perceived the United States, about the exercise of American power.  I would, I thought, go into American diplomatic history and just possibly enter the American diplomatic service.”

Just weeks after the birth of his third child, a son, Winston Monk died with all other passengers in the 1954 crash of a BOAC Constellation landing at Kalang Airport Singapore.  He was on his way to a Commonwealth Relations conference.


[The Dominion, Wellington, Monday March 15, 1954]



Mr Monk



Victoria College Spike 1954:

Winston Monk

     Winston Monk served this College for a bare four years, yet I doubt whether any of us who have known him closely--whether staff or students--will ever quite lose the results of the impact he made on us.

     This is a bold claim, and I make it only to a small extent on strictly academic grounds.  It is true, of course, that he made himself responsible for energetic teaching at a high level on two of the subjects most important for the modern world, namely the history of the United States and the emergence from tutelage of subject peoples in Africa and South East Asia.  His students, I suspect, will remember a little ruefully his high standards of accuracy, his unbounded energy in pursuit of material, and his expectation that those who worked with him should to some extent keep pace with his own efforts.  He has also left some fragments of published work which are pointers to what he would have done.  There is, for example, a tightly packed little work, Britain in the Mediterranean, and a series of articles in serious journals.  The first was a characteristic sally into a little explored field where many peoples met in conflict as well as friendship and where national prejudice obscured accurate thinking.  This little book brought to light new facts but inadequately represented the research that had been done and the clear thinking about tangled problems that was in prospect.  His published articles bore mainly on the relations between New Zealand and less favoured countries.  They strove not only to record new facts, but to arouse in his fellow New Zealanders a sense of their duty towards world problems and suffering humanity.  It was this sense of mission which gave fire to his teaching and which stimulated all those with whom he came into contact.

     Yet one can read his book and his articles without understanding why his influence will live so long.  When it came to print, the very exactness of his standards prevented him from setting forth the full impulse of his thinking.  None but experts--or those who worked through the proofs with him--can assess the depth of scholarship in his book, the human sympathy and the infinite care which lay behind each complex phrase.  Sentences wherein each word, each delicate nuance, must do justice to every aspect of a complex situation are apt to read stodgily, and to prolong themselves with adjectives and qualifications.  Moreover, in Monk's mind it was not merely the demands of factual research that must be met.  The range of his sympathy was universal, and it embraced more particularly the views of those whom the world, and even he himself, were inclined to condemn.  Seeing so clearly and sympathetically the merits of any argument which could find a human being to defend it, his own writing tended to one extreme or the other.  When scientific history, it was austere and tough, an irrepressible humanity lurking in the corner, but severely disciplined; when polemics, it was as slashing and provocative as his talk.  He was a passionate believer yet withal humble, always open to argument and ready when cornered to admit to mistakes with a charm that silenced complaint.

     The man's personality, in short, bursts through any attempt to discuss him calmly and rationally.  He lives in one's mind not because of what he wrote, but because of what he was: tough, courageous with unbounded human sympathy.  I doubt that his standards met any particular religious formula, but they were as high and uncompromising as any that I know.  One could disagree violently with his view on any particular issue, and become involved in arguments which exercised to the full one's knowledge and mental agility.  Yet one did not question his standards or ideals.  He was a passionate seeker after truth, but of a truth which is as complex and elusive as humanity itself.   -F.L. Wood


Winston Monk’s three children: Jane, Francis & Sarah, Wellington summer 1954-55

Pictures of the graves as laid out in 1954 sent to the family by Quantas/BOAC –labelled Changi Military Cemetery


At Bidadari Cemetery, Singapore, a row of white flat graves, their uniformity reminiscent of war graves, was placed to commemorate the victims by the British Overseas Airways Corporation. Grave Number 129 was In memory of WINSTON FRANCIS MONK      Born June 7th 1912 at Kaikoura, New Zealand      Died March 13th 1954       Beloved husband of Kay and father of Sarah, Jane and Winston

Winston’s widow travelled to Singapore to visit the grave in the 1950s, returning to Britain to raise their family there.

In the year 2000 the grave was revisited in Singapore and photographed on behalf of the family as an act of kindness by Colin & Win Carruthers of Western Australia.  A year later, John Deverill, a friend of the BOAC air stewardess victim Jo Butler, traced each victim's family and organised for them to travel to Bidadari when he heard that the cemetery was to be redeveloped for housing.  John's efforts were supported by British Airways to tie in with the exhumations which had been arranged for the vast numbers of Bidadari graves by the authorities in Singapore.   Winston MONK's grave was exhumed  on Friday 16 November 2001. His children Sarah, Jane and Francis (Winston) were at the graveside. The few remains were cremated and the ashes brought to Scotland by Jane with the help of undertaker Loy Fatt Yong of "Charming Asia".  Later, Winston Monk's headstone was also transferred to Scotland with help from BA and Nick McGlynn, airport manager for Qantas/BA at Changi, Singapore. The family was directed to the original air accident inquiry report by Adrian Peeris, Singapore civil servant and accident investigator.


Winston’s wife KAY MONK (Kathleen Elizabeth BRUEN 1915-2008)

Winston’s friend JACK MITCHELL (John Wesley MITCHELL 1913-2007)




 Extracts from The NZIIA: Origins and Development by Bryce Harland, former Director of the NZIIA, 18/10/2000

The NZIIA was established at a meeting in Wellington on 7 July 1934. On the motion of Mr W Nash, the Hon Mr Downie Stewart was unanimously appointed Chairman. Downie Stewart had resigned as Minister of Finance in the Liberal-Reform Coalition Government, in protest against the devaluation of the New Zealand pound. Walter Nash was to become Minister of Finance when the first Labour Government was elected in 1935. A D McIntosh was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the new Institute: he was to become Secretary of External Affairs from 1943 to 1966. Membership of the NZIIA overlapped with that of two existing bodies-- the Institute of Pacific Relations, whose New Zealand branch had been set up in 1927, and the Round Table, whose Wellington branch had been founded in 1910. All three bodies had parents overseas--the Round Table and the IIA in London, the IPR in Honolulu. The memberships of the three New Zealand branches were not large, but included a number of people who were, or became later, directly involved in running New Zealand's external relations.

In the early 30's most New Zealanders were preoccupied with the effects of the severe economic depression colloquially known as the Slump. Many saw only the local effects, but members of the Institute tried to see it in an international context. Their concerns were reflected in the first book put out by the Institute, which was entitled Contemporary New Zealand. Published in 1938, it was edited, and largely written, by three members--A D McIntosh, G R Powles and W B Sutch. A more historical approach was taken by F L W Wood, in his contribution to the series of books published to mark New Zealand's Centennial in 1940. Wood's first book was called New Zealand in the World. Later he wrote, for the War Histories series, a book which was called The New Zealand People at War: Political and External Affairs. Though not published by the NZIIA itself, these books owed much to discussions at its meetings, and they quickly became foundations for the study of New Zealand's external relations.

After the War ended in 1945, the NZIIA took on new life. Wood was joined by his colleagues J C Beaglehole, Winston Monk, Ken Scott and King Braybrooke, who all took part in study groups on international affairs. Among the papers published by the Institute in the period was one written by G R Powles entitled Must We Trust Japan? Another was New Zealand's Interests and Policies in the Far East by R G Latham. When a Commonwealth Relations Conference was to be held in Karachi in 1953, the NZIIA sent a delegation of three--R O McGechan, Winston Monk and Frank Holmes.  McGechan and Monk were killed in an air crash in Singapore on their way to Karachi. Holmes alone got there. Perhaps as a tribute to the dead, the NZIIA agreed to hold another Commonwealth Relations Conference in New Zealand.  It took place at Palmerston North in 1959. Among the overseas participants were James Callaghan from the UK, Garfield Todd from South Rhodesia, and Gough Whitlam from Australia

Winston’s wife KAY MONK (Kathleen Elizabeth BRUEN 1915-2008)


Richard MONK (1829-1916) & Margaret THOMSON (1838-1930) New Zealand Pioneers

Annie Hope BLAKE (1842-1938) The East End and Norfolk families

 More LIVES & fragments



Winston Monk’s grandson Tom Kelly emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand in 2007, flying in from Singapore.

Tom Kelly film work

NUMBER 51 of the 2

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