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New Zealand crime reading

April 5, 2013

New Zealand has a long and distinguished history of crime fiction; from Dame Ngaio Marsh through to our current high flyers: Paul Cleave, Neil Cross, Alix Bosco, Vanda Symon, Paddy Richardson, Paul Thomas …

New Zealand crime readingAnd we also have a long not so distinguished history of real life crime! Check out some of our more famous historical mis-deeds:

The MacKenzie Affair / James MacNeish
MacKenzie was one of our earliest criminals of renown – and also one of our earliest folk heroes. He was sentenced to five years’ hard labour for sheep rustling in 1855 – and pardoned the following year – the region he was caught in was subsequently named the Mackenzie Country.

Murders on Maunga-tapu / Frank Clune
In 1866 The Burgess Gang murdered five men on their way to Nelson from the Wakamarina goldfield in order to rob them. One of the gang turned on the others to give evidence, and in doing so escaped the gallows – the other three were hanged – and their heads were severed for plaster casts to be made for phrenological examination.

Minnie Dean her life and crimes / Lynley Hood
Minnie Dean was the only woman ever hanged in New Zealand; she was sentenced to death for murder of an 11 month old child in 1895. Dean was a ‘baby farmer’ (taking in infants for money – usually of unwed mothers) and as well as three bodies that were discovered there were fourteen or so children unaccounted for when she was arrested. Her trial and execution led to the improvement of child protection laws in New Zealand.

The making of a madman Lionel Terry / Frank Tod
Lionel Terry was obsessed with racial purity and lobbied for non-European immigration to be stopped. In 1905 he killed Joe Kum Yung in Haining Street in Wellington to draw attention to his crusade. He was sentenced to death but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on the grounds of insanity.
So brilliantly clever / Peter Graham
Given a new boost of notoriety with the the 1994 movie Heavenly Creatures was the 1954 murder of Honora Parker by her daughter Pauline and Pauline’s friend Juliet Hulme. The girls were found guilty of murder but as Pauline was 16 and Juliet 15 they couldn’t be sentenced to death. Included in the girls’ sentence was the provision that they were never to contact each other again. After her release from prison, Juliet Hulme spent time in the United States and later began a successful career as crime novelist Anne Perry.

Post by Nelson Libraries

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