Home' Greymouth Star : October 30th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, October 30, 2017
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and — except for e-mails — your signature. Noms
de plume are not accepted.
Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
within 300 words. Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly. The Editor
reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are offensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
uLetters to the editor
1922 - Benito Mussolini forms a fascist
government, becomes premier of Italy.
1938 - A radio dramatisation of the H G
Wells novel War of the Worlds causes
mass panic in the United States.
1956 - Britain and France issue an
ultimatum to Egypt and Israel, calling
for a ceasefire.
1974 - Muhammad Ali knocks out
George Foreman in the eighth round
in Kinshasa, Zaire, to regain his world
1989 - Riot police in Moscow repeatedly
charge and club demonstrators after a
candlelight vigil outside KGB headquarters in
memory of Stalin’s victims.
1995 - Q uebec holds a referendum on
independence from Canada, voting against
1996 - An Ethiopian air force plane crashes
in a market east of the capital, Addis Ababa,
killing eight people and setting 50 homes and
shops on fire.
1998 - While cracking down on the militant
Hamas movement, the Palestinian Authority
cabinet ratifies the Wye land-for-peace
1999 - The last Indonesian troopship sails
out of East Timor, ending a bloody 24-year
2001 - The United States releases a new list
of about 200 individuals it suspects of having
links to the September 11 attacks.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Ezra Pound, US poet (1885-1972);
Garry McDonald, Australian actor-
comedian (1948-); Stefan Dennis,
Australian actor (1958-); Diego
Maradona, Argentine footballer
(1960-); Gavin Rossdale, British
musician (1965-); Ivanka Trump, US
business woman (1981-).
“ I’ve got a couple of very interesting projects
. . . but what I don’t have anymore is time.”
— Juan Antonio Bardem, veteran Spanish
film director who wrote and directed Death
of a Cyclist and That Happy Pair. He died on
October 30, 2002.
“ Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his
Holy mountain; for the Lord our God is Holy.”
— (Psalms 99:9).
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
Several houses were
during the early hours
of this morning as a
scrub fire swept down off the Reservoir Hill
toward Reefton. The hill, a large terrace which
encircles the north-eastern end of Reefton,
was an inferno as firemen poured thousands of
gallons of water into its heart.
The Reefton Fire Brigade did not have hoses
long enough to go to the fire and had to wait
near the houses in Bridge Street. When the
flames came within range, the firemen managed
to hold them. The brigade was considerably
aided by heavy rain that started falling about
Residents of the town this morning looked
out on blackened and charred hills, which on
Saturday had been bright yellow from blooming
broom and gorse.
A fully furnished holiday bach was gutted by
fire at Moana on Friday evening. The fire, the
second to destroy a building in the lakeside
township in recent months, has prompted people
of the district to consider seriously the need for
a fire brigade.
Mrs M K Molloy, the wife of the bach’s owner,
described the bach as “not very big” and “fairly
recent ” and said it was let to visitors for holidays.
It was not occupied at the time of the fire.
On Saturday night, residents of Moana
discussed the possibility of establishing a fire
brigade in the district. The proposal will be given
Birth. — Kerridge. — On October 29, at
McBrearty Ward, Grey Hospital, to Gloria (nee
Parkinson) and Peter — a son (Paul Dominic);
f Captain William Jar vey had
looked up, he would have seen a
beautiful, spring afternoon sky.
If he had wanted to turn around,
he would have been able to look
over the prison walls at the lapping
waters of Otago Harbour.
That was the view condemned men
had — standing with the hangman’s
noose around their neck and the trapdoor
beneath their feet — from the gallows of
Dunedin Gaol, more than a century and
It is 152 years, this week, since the first
official colonial execution in Otago.
On October 24, 1865, Jar vey, a convicted
murderer, was “hung by the neck until
It was an historic event in the life of the
young city and province. So, the weather,
the view and the details of the hanging
were all diligently reported in the Otago
Daily Times the next day.
Renowned lawyer Alfred Hanlon
represented murderers Minnie Dean,
of Winton, and Charles Clements, of
Dunedin, who were executed.
“Had the convict looked to the right
from where he stood, he would have seen
the waters of the Bay, blue and bright
under the sunlight; but he looked not,’’ the
news story stated.
“No thought of the years he had passed
on the ocean could have intruded then!
He was ghastly pale as the cap was drawn
over his face.
“The instant before this was done, he
softly called to Reverend Connebee,
who stood at one corner of the scaffold.
The reverend gentleman advanced, and
the convict spoke two or three words.
They were, we believe, his last farewell.
Certainly they were not a confession, nor
an indication of any yielding towards one.’’
Jar vey has the ignominious distinction of
being the first person in Otago to receive
When he had been executed, his body
was buried in the grounds of the gaol
compound on the corner of Stuart and
Castle Streets, D unedin, on what was then
the edge of the harbour.
He was the first, but not the last executed
in D unedin.
In all, there were four: Jar vey, John
Jones a year later, Ah Lee, in 1880 and
Charles Clements in 1898. All found
guilty of murder. All hung in the gaol
But, where did their bodies go? Where
are their bodies now? And what of the
rumour they were dug up and reburied
beneath a large tree in the Northern
Capital punishment was the ultimate
penalty in colonial New Zealand, the
price to be paid by murderers, traitors
and pirates. The method of execution was
The first official hanging was in 1842,
when Wiremu Kingi Maketu was
sentenced to death for exacting utu by
killing five people on Motuarohia Island,
in the Bay of Islands.
Aotearoa has had no pirate executions.
And only one for treason.
Hamiora Pere, a member of Maori
prophet Te Kooti’s armed forces during
the New Zealand land wars, was
controversially executed for treason in
Of the 85 people executed in New
Zealand, all were men except Minnie
Dean, of Winton, who was hung in
Invercargill in 1895 for infanticide.
The last person to be executed was
Walter Bolton, of Auckland, who was
hung in 1957 for murdering his wife.
Otago’s executed men were all convicted
of murder, but each had a unique tale.
Jar vey was almost certainly a psychopath
and sexual predator.
A womaniser who had already allegedly
killed three of his illegitimate children in
Tasmania, Australia, Jar vey poisoned his
pregnant wife Catherine with strychnine,
a colourless pesticide, at their home in
Caversham. This was while he was having
an affair with a younger woman. He was
also accused of sexual assault against two
of his daughters, including one who was
on her death bed.
Jar vey was hung about noon on that fine
A story soon started circulating that he
had foretold how he would die.
Less than a year before, as captain of
the small coastal steamer, Titania, Jar vey
had slipped and fallen into the harbour at
After being rescued, he had reportedly
said, “If a man is born to be hanged, he
will never be drowned.’’
The article about the execution includes
two interesting footnotes.
“After the execution, a person who was
stated to represent the proprietress of a
Melbourne wax-work exhibition, was
allowed to take a cast of the convict ’s
face and head’’ and “a local ‘professor’ of
phrenology was also permitted to make an
John Jones, who also went by the name
John Pool, was the second person to be
executed at Dunedin Gaol.
Two months after Jar vey was hung,
Jones was a guest at the Hiberian
Accommodation House in the then-
bustling goldmining town of Waipori,
40km west of D unedin.
On the evening of December 22,
Jones, apparently unprovoked, stabbed
local farmer Richard Atkinson, who was
lending a hand at his daughter, Margaret
Dickson’s, guesthouse. Jones also stabbed
Dickson, but not fatally.
Mr Atkinson, who was stabbed in the
stomach, died eight days later from a
combination of his injuries and the “help’’
he received from two local doctors whose
treatment included turpentine injections.
Jones was tried and found guilty,
although the jury recommended mercy as
it believed Atkinson might have sur vived
if the doctors had been competent.
A report on the trial was sent to Sir
George Grey, the Governor-General,
who agreed with the judge that the death
penalty was appropriate.
Jones was executed on April 6, 1866, and
also buried in the grounds of the gaol.
Murder was murder, including execution.
So, a short inquest was held after each
hanging to verify that the execution was
indeed “justifiable homicide’’.
If the justification for Jones’ hanging
was a little dubious, then Otago’s third
execution, that of Ah Lee, seems highly
In August 1880, Mary Young was found
bludgeoned, but not yet dead, at her
property in the goldmining settlement of
Kyeburn in the Maniototo.
Young could not identify her attacker but
said he was Chinese.
She died and Lee, a recent immigrant
from Canton, China, was arrested.
The evidence was largely circumstantial,
Lee’s interpreter spoke a different dialect
and Lee maintained his innocence.
But he was found guilty and, just one
month later, on October 10, was hung and
buried in the grounds of D unedin Gaol.
There was one more to come, 18 years
In late 1897, Charles Clements and his
wife, Ruth Ann, of George St, D unedin,
visited a lawyer for advice about getting a
divorce. They left the law office hand-in-
The next time the lawyer heard from
Clements was when he asked the lawyer
to defend him on a charge of murdering
That lawyer was Alfred Hanlon, one of
the most outstanding criminal lawyers in
New Zealand’s history.
Two years previously, Hanlon had
represented Minnie Dean in her murder
Clements had tried to commit suicide
after killing his wife. But, still being alive,
he wanted to dictate to Hanlon how his
defence should be conducted.
In court, Clements represented himself,
with Hanlon watching on and offering
The jury took only 26 minutes to return a
On April 12, 1898, Clements became the
final person to face “the last penalty of the
law ’’ at Dunedin Gaol.
Here’s where mystery enters, slyly, stage
By the time of Clements’ hanging a
new, orange-brick prison had been built
behind the old one, where it still stands on
Castle Street. The old gaol was about to
be demolished to make way for the Law
Courts building, which still occupies the
could not be
buried next to the
others in the old
Where was he
about the others?
Do they still lie
beneath the Law
Could one of the
in the $20 million
upgrade of the
building make an
To the mystery,
add a riddle: Alan
years ago, after an
in the ODT
at the hands
of John Jones,
Riddle contacted the
newspaper to talk
about Jones and the others executed at
Riddle did not know about Clements,
but said he believed he had information
about what happened to the remains of
the other three.
At least middle-aged himself, Riddle
said when he was young his mother had
told him the bodies had been dug up
and reburied in an unmarked grave in
Dunedin’s Northern Cemetery.
“The Northern Cemetery has a loop
road. On a sharp bend, beneath a huge
macrocarpa; that ’s where they were
buried,’’ Riddle, quoting his deceased
During the past month, the Otago Daily
Times has made efforts to find Riddle, but
to no avail.
Searching the pages of the Otago Daily
Times reveals there was indeed a plan to
move the remains.
On May 4, 1899, a report about
construction of the Law Courts states,
“The places where the bodies were interred
have been located, but the remains have
not yet been uncovered’’.
In an effort to find out what happened
next, phone calls are placed to historians,
archaeologists and archivists.
The Dunedin City Council’s
comprehensive cemeteries database starts
to give up its secrets.
Clements was buried in the Southern
Cemetery, on the same day he was
A block and plot number lead to a
remote corner of the cemetery; a tree
root and pine needle-strewn strip of
unmarked land bordered on all sides by
tombs and headstones in various states of
Five other people are also buried there,
the database records. None of the graves
are marked in any way.
It is free ground, says Sandra McCord,
who is the city council cemeteries
“ Which explains why there are multiple
unrelated people buried in that plot,’’
“ Free Ground means that the grave
site was not purchased . . . but a fee was
charged to be buried there.’’
The database also reveals that the
other three, Jarvey, Jones and Lee, were
reburied, together, in the Northern
Richard Hercus, who works out of the
Northern Cemetery sexton’s cottage as
a volunteer for the Southern Heritage
Trust, leads the way down the winding
cemetery road, through seemingly endless
rows of burial sites, to where the executed
Here there are headstones, concrete
edges, wrought iron fences and . . . the
The convicted murderers were reburied
here, somewhere, in unmarked paupers’
graves, Hercus says.
But then, in the first years of last century,
this gullied portion of the cemetery was
reshaped. New graves were added over the
older paupers’ graves.
It is not clear whether the families of
those later arrivals knew their loved ones
were being buried on top of the graves of
Just as Riddle’s mother had said, a large
macrocarpa stands guard over this corner
of the cemetery.
Well, not quite.
An ODT report two days before the
reinternment had some disturbing news.
Jar vey’s skull was stolen before he could be
“The police are investigating a theft of a
most peculiar nature,’’ the May 10, 1899,
“The Department of Justice were
removing the remains of the three
murderers who were buried within the
precincts of the old gaol. After being
uncovered, the remains were left pending
an order for their removal being received
“ In the inter val, however, some person,
presumably a collector, took a fancy to the
skull of the late Captain Andrew Jar vey,
executed for the murder of his wife, and
“The police hope that anyone offering for
sale a skull ‘other than their own’ will be
made to account for it.’’
Jar vey is buried, somewhere in the
Northern Cemetery, without his head.
It certainly is creepy and there are stories
about it, says Andrew Smith, of Hair
People have claimed to see Jarvey ’s
headless ghost in the Northern
Cemetery and around the old gaol site,
“Some of my best stories come from ex-
police,’’ he says.
The former Dunedin Police Station is
behind the Law Courts building.
“They said they took showers after night
shift and they would have to hop across
the area where they believed the bodies
were buried. And that was where all the
weird, creepy stuff happened.’’
The mystery of who stole Jar vey ’s skull
One possible suspect is the un-named
“professor of phrenology ’’ who examined
Jar vey’s head after the execution.
Phrenology is the discredited pseudo-
science of using the bumps on the skull as
a guide to the person’s mental and moral
In the mid-1860s, reports of a Prof
Griffen’s well-attended public lectures
on phrenology were making the local
newspapers in Dunedin and elsewhere in
He disappears from public record after
that. But in recent years, it has been
suggested he might have married a woman
Could the good professor have
developed such a deep interest in the
bumps on the head of Jar vey that 25
years later, when he read the bodies were
lying exposed awaiting reburial, he seized
the opportunity, literally, with both
Any decapitated ghosts sighted this
Halloween should be advised to head to
Where are the bodies of Otago’s four executed murderers? BRUCE MUNRO of the
Otago Daily Times digs up a halloween mystery of gruesome hangings, lost graves and
Where history lies
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
The old Dunedin Jail, on the corner of Stuart and Castle Sts, where three of Otago’s four condemned men were executed.
A set of binding straps used to pinion the arms and legs of the condemned at the time of the execution.
Links Archive October 28th 2017 October 31st 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page