Many Fiji readers will remember Miss Pauline Campbell who spent many years as a missionary in the Indian Division of the Methodist Church and in the establishment of the Deaconess Order. Pauline passed away yesterday in Australia, aged about 85 years.
I knew Pauline Campbell from the beginning of 1962 when she offered to give me accommodation in the flat behind the house in Belo Street Samabula, a suburb of Suva where Pauline as a Mission Sister to the Indian community was establishing a church. Rev Doug Fullerton and Ethel were in Suva at that time at Dudley Methodist Church. We were also associated with Dudley Church in Toorak where the girls from Dudley High School went twice every Sunday. By that time Miss Phyllis Furnivall was principal of Dudley High School and she was a close friend of Pauline. I stayed with Pauline for one year before moving to Davuilevu. Later I did teach at Dudley myself – one year living with the missionaries, another year enjoying the freedom of two small rooms in an Indian household in Amy Street.
Pauline was such a committed missionary, was energetic, hard-working and knew how to speak in Hindi, and she had a real twinkle in her eye. We got along well and she helped me settle into a good routine as a teacher in Fiji. I was 23 and Pauline was a bit older, maybe in her 30s. I wasn’t a missionary though, more an adventurer, but with a passion to change the world! We lived in the midst of the people with Indian neighbours and it was a wonderful time in my life. She had a very ordered life, prayer each morning and she was conscientious with her extensive visiting program to the homes of the Indian people.
Dudley High School had a high standard and Pauline (earlier) and Phyllis really cared about excellence and giving the girls a chance to study well and have careers. It was the colonial days before Fiji was independent and very few Fiji people were training for secondary teaching. The Methodist missionary women stuck together a lot. There were about twelve of them at that time. I think Pauline spent her holidays with Phyllis and also with Marj Hodge who was principal of Jasper Williams School in Lautoka on the western side of Viti Levu.
When Peceli and I got married in Lautoka at the end oif 1966, Pauline was there and she wrote a detailed charming letter to my parents describing the day (as my Mum and Dad in Australia weren’t there.) She was very thoughtful like that.
We lost touch a bit as Peceli and I lived in places like Rakiraki but Pauline moved on to establish the Deaconess House and train young women to be leaders in the church. She wanted both Fijian and Indian young women to be trained together though the Methodist Church at that time did not have a lot of inter-cultural worship and programs.
When Phyllis Furnivall was murdered at Davuilevu at the end of a school year, 1970 perhaps, this was devastating for Pauline and all of us. We had thought we were invulnerable to harm, being committed to working in the Christian church. I’m not sure when Pauline returned to Australia but I think that later on, she did go back to Fiji for a time.
I rang Pauline a few months ago to tell her that Rev Doug Fullerton had died but I don’t think she remembered me.
Pauline was very important in my life for that first year I spent in Fiji, knocking off some of the worldly edges on my life, putting me on track. She was a lovely person and the people of Fiji remember her with affection and gratitude.
In a book by A. Harold Wood on the Overseas Missions (1978) there are some references to Pauline: and other missionaries;
Pauline Campbell 1949-73 and 1975 –
Phyllis Furnivall 1951-70 and Marjorie Hodge 1958 –
And on page 106
Pauline Campbell from Canberra became Headmistress of Dudley House School in 1949 in succession to Miss Griffiths. She wielded a pronounced influence in spiritual terms as well as in teaching progress. So strongly was she connived of the needs of religious and social welfare work among Fijian and Indian women in urban areas that she promoted the foundation of the Deaconess Order in Fiji.From supervisor of deaconess training, and, after retiring, decided to return to Suva to support the Mission’s programme. The Deaconess Order, already proving a boon to the women of both races, is a monument to her wise oversight and her spirit of complete devotion to the Church’s mission in Fiji.