Edward Mark Best

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Edward Mark Best
Edward-best nzpolice.jpg
Died(1941-10-11)11 October 1941
Other namesTed
Relatives1 Wife
2 Daughters
Police career
DepartmentNew Zealand Police
Badge number2364
Country New Zealand

Edward "Ted" Mark Best (1899 – 11 October 1941) was a New Zealand police officer killed in the line of duty by farmer Stanley Graham.

Early life and career[edit]

Best was born the son of a farmer in Annandale, near the North Island town of Morrinsville, New Zealand in 1899. He joined the police at age 21.[1]

In the mid-1920s, he was transferred to the West Coast, where he married a woman from Hokitika in 1928, and had two daughters, aged nine and four at the time of his death.

His apparent ability to handle most community problems at a personal level made him a popular and effective policeman.[1]


On 4 October 1941, a neighbor of local farmer Stanley Graham (who had previously been in dispute with the police), Anker Madsen, complained to Constable Best, stationed in nearby Kaniere, that Graham was accusing him of poisoning his cattle. Best decided not to arrive in order to give Graham time to calm himself.[2]

Memorial for the incident, Kowhitirangi
Detail of the memorial

On 8 October, Graham confronted Madsen with a rifle. Later that morning, Best attempted to discuss the matter with Graham but backed off with Graham pointing two rifles out the window at him. Best retreated to Hokitika for back-up and returned to the farm with Sergeant William Cooper, 43, and Constables Frederick Jordan, 26, and Percy Tulloch, 35.

After a short conversation inside his house, Graham shot and wounded Sergeant Cooper and Constable Best after Sergeant Cooper apparently reached to disarm Graham.[3] He then fired at Constables Jordan and Tulloch as they ran into the house, killing them both instantly with the one bullet. When the badly wounded Cooper attempted to leave to obtain help, Graham shot him dead on the path in front of the house. Best was shot once more after allegedly attempting to plead with him, and died three days later. Graham also fatally wounded a field instructor for the Canterbury education board named George Ridley, who had entered Graham's property to assist any wounded along with an armed local, whom Graham threatened and disarmed.[3][4] Graham then fled his house, but returned the next evening, when he killed home guardsmen Richard "Maxie" Coulson and Gregory Hutchison in a firefight.[5] During that engagement he was wounded in the right shoulder.[6]


The ensuing manhunt was the biggest in New Zealand history. It was overseen by the Commissioner of Police, Denis Cummings. More than 100 New Zealand Police and several hundred New Zealand Army and Home Guard personnel searched the area for Graham for 12 days, with orders to shoot on sight if they found him still armed.

On 20 October, after being spotted by two police constables and a local civilian carrying his rifle and ammunition belts,[2][3] an injured Graham was shot by Auckland Constable James D'Arcy Quirke (one of the officers who spotted him) with a .303 rifle, from a distance of 25 meters,[2] as Graham crawled through a patch of scrub. After being shot, he was surrounded by almost a hundred police and army, to one of whom he reportedly told that he "could have shot some more". He died the following morning at approximately 5:25 AM at Westland Hospital, Hokitika[7][8] and was buried at Hokitika Cemetery.[9] Constable Quirke reported Graham told him he was intending to give up that night.[5]


  1. ^ a b Manhunt: The Story of Stanley Graham at Google Books
  2. ^ a b c http://ketewestcoast.peoplesnetworknz.info/image_files/0000/0000/1932/img-the_killing.jpg
  3. ^ a b c http://ketewestcoast.peoplesnetworknz.info/image_files/0000/0000/1922/img-home_guardsmen.jpg
  4. ^ Willis, Howard Alan (1979), Manhunt : the story of Stanley Graham, Whitcoulls, pp. 86–7, ISBN 9780723306290
  5. ^ a b Carson, Christopher. Graham, Eric Stanley George 1900 - 1941. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington. Updated 22 June 2007.
  6. ^ Willis, Howard Alan (1979), Manhunt : the story of Stanley Graham, Whitcoulls, p. 131, ISBN 9780723306290
  7. ^ http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/murderer-stan-graham-is-shot-by-a-police-officer
  8. ^ Willis, Howard Alan (1979), Manhunt : the story of Stanley Graham, Whitcoulls, p. 205, ISBN 9780723306290
  9. ^ "Cemetery enquiry". Westland District Council. Retrieved 11 October 2014.

External links[edit]