Hyland Neil "Hank" Nelson AM was one of Australia's foremost historians of the Pacific, particularly Papua New Guinea. His interest in the region began in 1966 when he took a teaching position at the University of Papua New Guinea. He lived in Papua New Guinea for seven years and studied the period of Japanese occupation, which led to several publications.
He worked on several displays and archival material at the Australian War Memorial about the war in Papua New Guinea, as well as films and radio documentaries. He was Emeritus Professor and Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University's Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies until his death from cancer in February 2012.