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Maida Coaldrake

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Maida Coaldrake

Awarded for service to Education and Training

Born: 1919

Died: 31 January 2010

Entered on roll: 2006

Maida Coaldrake was born in Queenstown in 1919 and moved to Launceston with her family when she was in primary school. She received a scholarship to attend the Methodist Ladies’ College in Launceston in 1930 and graduated as dux in 1936. She was Vice-Captain of the school and was awarded many prizes during her school years. In 1935, she gained the University Prize for English and in 1936 was awarded two literacy scholarships by the University of Tasmania and the University Prize for physiology and hygiene.

Maida undertook tertiary study in Tasmania at a time when it was unusual for women to pursue an academic career. She was one of only five full-time female students at the University of Tasmania in 1937 and was editor of the University of Tasmania’s Togatus. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, she moved to Melbourne to research her masters thesis on Tasmania’s role in the constitutional movement.

After her marriage in 1949, Maida lived in Japan for seven years where her husband was working as an Anglican missionary priest in Yokohama. Since returning to Australia in 1956, she played a leading role in Japanese studies. She took up a position as senior tutor in history at Sydney University and at the same time established the University’s first Japanese language and history course.

Maida returned to Tasmania in 1974 as senior lecturer of history at the University of Tasmania and was responsible for the establishment of courses in Japanese language and history. She continued to hold senior positions at the University of Tasmania until her retirement in 1984.

In her retirement, she completed her doctoral thesis on intellectual revolutionary movements and personalities in pre-modern Japan. She was Visiting Professor to Sophia University in Japan, an institution she was associated with since 1974. In 1997, Maida was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, from the University of Tasmania.

Maida was awarded one of the highest honours conferred by Japan. On 5 December 1997, she received the Order of the Precious Crown (Wistaria level) by His Majesty Emperor Akihito for her contribution to the promotion of the studies of Japanese history and language. The order of the Precious Crown is the equivalent of a British knighthood and it is rare for a foreigner to be honoured in this way. Maida Coaldrake died on 31 January 2010.

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