New Zealand is often seen as a relatively safe country, but as this selection of notable crimes shows, we have had our fair share of homicides, violent acts and other criminal behaviour. The timeline of more than 75 events can also be viewed as a map.
Perhaps the greatest political hoaxer in New Zealand’s history
Sydney Gordon Ross was released from prison on a Saturday, with nothing but an old briefcase, clothes and a train ticket. By the following afternoon, he had secured an audience with the Prime Minister at his parliamentary office in Wellington. A day later, he had a car, money, accommodation – and the undivided attention of the country’s security establishment.
Born on 26 May 1938, Pauline Parker was the second daughter of Christchurch couple Herbert and Honora Reiper. At the age of five, she was hospitalised with osteomyelitis, a crippling bone marrow infection. Though she survived the painful treatments, she suffered chronic leg pain throughout her youth, which excused her from physical activities at school. She had an interest in art and writing, and showed talent sculpting with clay.
Edward Te Whiu was one of the last four people executed in New Zealand. He admitted to killing 75-year-old widow Florence Smith, but his underprivileged background and childlike mental state led some to question the appropriateness of the death penalty.
In the Auckland Supreme Court, Dennis Gunn was convicted of the murder of a postmaster and sentenced to death. In what was claimed to be a world first for a capital crime, Gunn's conviction was based almost entirely on fingerprint evidence.