List of people executed in New Zealand
A total of 85 people were executed under New Zealand's capital punishment system while it was in force. An additional five people were executed under military regulations in World War I.
List of executed persons
|1||Wiremu Kingi Maketu||7 Mar 1842, Auckland||First person to be judicially executed in New Zealand (although not the first person sentenced to death). Convicted of murdering the family for whom he was working as a farm-hand.|
|2||Joseph Burns||17 Jun 1848, Auckland||Convicted of murdering a naval officer Lt Snow and his family at Devonport Naval Base in order to rob them.|
|3||Maroro||19 Apr 1849, Wellington||Convicted of murdering a man and his children in a fit of rage at a previous conviction for theft — he denied having any particular connection to his victims.|
|4||William Good||17 Jun 1850, Wellington||Convicted of murdering a seaman (John Ellis) aboard the General Palmer, a merchant barque moored in Wellington Harbour.|
|5||William Bowden||27 Apr 1852, Auckland||Convicted of murdering a blacksmith, stabbing him with a knife during a fight.|
|6||Charles Marsden||12 Feb 1856, Auckland||Convicted of murdering a Māori woman of the Te Arawa iwi. The incident caused significant tension between Te Arawa and the government, with some members of Te Arawa threatening to storm the prison and kill Marsden should the government not act against him.|
|7||John White||11 Jul 1856, Auckland||Convicted of murdering his partner, Ann Fay, with an axe. It is alleged that he was abusive towards her, and that he killed her when she refused to stay with him and threatened to reveal previous crimes he had committed. White denied the charge, and said that Fay was sought after by one of the witnesses against him, William Harris, and that Harris's mistress, Ann Scott (also a witness), killed Fay out of jealousy.|
|8||John Killey||18 Mar 1858, Auckland||Convicted of murdering a man in Whangarei after a drunken argument.|
|9||James Collins||30 Jan 1862, Wellington||A Colour-Sergeant convicted of murdering an officer who had constantly tried to bully him. The first person to be executed privately, rather than in public.|
|10||Teherei||10 Jul 1863, Picton|
|11||Richard Harper||2 Sep 1863, Auckland|
|12-13||Ruarangi||18 Apr 1864, Auckland||Convicted of murdering a woman and her daughter on a farm at Kaukapakapa. Another daughter, who was present but survived, told the court that Ruarangi stated an intent to kill other pākehā in the area, allegedly with the intent of sparking conflict, although the relationship between the settlers and local Māori was considered relatively good at the time.|
|Nikotema Okeroa||Convicted of murdering Te Waiti, described as a Māori chief, in the Bay of Islands. Okeroa was argued by some to be mentally incapable (Māori witnesses used the term porangi).|
|14||Alexander McLean||21 Oct 1864, Auckland||Convicted of murdering his wife with a gun. McLean argued that the firearm was discharged accidentally.|
|15||William Andrew Jarvey||24 Oct 1865, Dunedin||Convicted of poisoning his wife with strychnine in order to marry his mistress.|
|16||John Jones||6 Apr 1866, Dunedin ||Convicted of murdering a man at Waipori. Jones was had been drinking heavily, and claimed that he had no recollection of the event.|
|17||James Stack||7 Apr 1866, Auckland||Convicted of murdering his mother-inlaw Mary Finniigan aged 55 and her three sons James 17, Benjamin 14 and John 12.
|18-22||Mokomoko||17 May 1866, Auckland||Convicted of killing Karl Völkner, a missionary who was believed by the Te Whakatohea iwi to be a government spy. See Volkner Incident.|
|Hakaraia Te Rahui|
|22-24||Richard Burgess||5 Oct 1866, Nelson||The Maungatapu Murderers; convicted of murdering and robbing four people on the road from Nelson to the West Coast goldfields. A fourth man, Joseph Sullivan, was spared the death penalty for testifying against the others.|
|25||Robert Wilson||20 Dec 1867, Nelson|
|27||John Dinsely Swales||16 Apr 1868, Lyttelton||Murdered his business partner, John Rankin, by setting fire to his premises in Colombo Street, Christchurch, as he lay in bed.|
|28||Whakamau||23 Mar, Wellington|
|29||Hamiora Pere||16 Nov 1869, Wellington||Charged with treason, and the only person to be executed in New Zealand for a crime other than murder. A participant in Te Kooti's War.|
|30||Anthony Noble||16 Feb 1871, Hokitika||Convicted of murdering a girl aged nine or ten in Hokitika. Noble eventually gave a confession in which he admitted to murdering and sexually assaulting the girl, although he denied raping her. Noble was originally from Baltimore (newspapers described him as "coloured" — his father was African American and his mother was Spanish), and he was working in Hokitika as a casual labourer.|
|31||Simon Cedeno||5 Apr 1871, Lyttelton||A butler to William Robinson, a wealthy land-owner and a member of the Legislative Council. Convicted of murdering a maid of the household, apparently after suffering racist insults. Cedeno was from Central America, and was black.|
|32||Kereopa Te Rau||5 Jan 1872, Napier||A leader of the Pai Marire religious movement convicted of involvement in the Volkner Incident (five others already having been executed — see above). Pardoned in 2014.|
|33||Joseph Eppwright||29 Jul 1873, Auckland||An American sailor convicted of murdering a man named Thomas Garrity while in port at Russell. "EPPWRIGHT, a constable, who stabbed another constable, was hanged at Auckland on 29 July. He made a speech exculpating Fisher, stating that he stabbed GARITY in the heat of a quarrel without intent to kill him. He denied that he had ever been in gaol before. After the cap was fitted the drop was knocked off but only 6 inches and efforts to pull it down proved ineffectual. The culprit was then taken off, the drop was readjusted and the second time it fell clear, causing instantaneous death." |
|34||Charles Dyer||30 Oct 1874, Auckland||Convicted of murdering his mistress by dousing her in kerosene and then setting her alight.|
|35||Nutana||19 Feb 1875, Auckland|
|36||John Robinson Mercer||7 May 1875, Lyttelton||A ship's cook convicted of raping and murdering a young girl while in port at Lyttelton.|
|37||William Henry Woodgate||25 Jan 1877, Picton||William Henry Woodgate was born at Beer, Devon, UK, in 1827 and was baptised on 1 January 1828. In the 1841 Census, he was living at Signal House, Beer, with his parents Robert & Elizabeth Woodgate and his younger siblings. Willam who married Margaret (Mary Ann) Heberley in 1863 was accused and found guilty at the Supreme Court sitting of murder of the newborn baby of his Niece Susan Woodgate who was the daughter of his brother Robert. He was thought to be the father of the child.|
|38||Martin Curtain||6 Feb 1877, Auckland|
|39||Te Mohi||23 May 1877, Auckland|
|40||James Welsh||19 Feb 1879, Invercargill ||Convicted of murdering his wife, Louisa Welsh, at Waikawa Station in 1878 |
|41||Ah Lee||5 Nov 1880, Dunedin||Convicted of murdering Mary Young at the Kyeburn gold diggings near Naseby in order to rob her home. Although he is alleged to have confessed the crime to police, he denied it in court and at the gallows, and his conviction was the subject of considerable public debate.|
|42||Tuhiata||29 Dec 1880, Wellington||Convicted of murdering Mary Dobie on the road to Te Namu Bay, near Opunake.|
|43||Wiremu Hiroki||8 Jun 1882, New Plymouth||Convicted of murdering John McLean, a member of a government surveying party operating in the area east of Waverley. He is alleged to have acted out of belief that McLean had been killing his pigs.|
|44||Taurangaka Winiata||4 Aug 1882, Auckland|
|45||John Donohue||11 June 1884, Hokitika|
|46||Rowland Herbert Edwards||15 Jul 1884, Napier|
|47-48||John Caffrey||21 Feb 1887, Auckland||Convicted of murdering Robert Taylor of Great Barrier Island, father of Caffrey's one-time fiancée, Elizabeth Anne Taylor. The intent was to abduct Elizabeth, but they came to believe that they had been detected, and decided to flee to Valparaíso in a vessel stolen from Caffrey's employers. They were forced to turn back by a storm, and managed to hide for a time in Australia before being returned to New Zealand. A third person Grace Cleary, accompanied the two, and was charged as an accessory.|
|49||Haira Te Piri||13 May 1889, Napier|
|50||Makoare Wata||28 Sep 1889, Napier|
|51||Alexander James Scott||22 May 1892, Auckland||A resident of Waikumete (then spelled Waikomiti, and usually considered part of Glen Eden today) who was convicted of poisoning his neighbour, allegedly in order to more easily continue a claimed relationship with the victim's wife. Scott claimed that the deceased had committed suicide, and that he had previously spoken of doing so.|
|52||Minnie Dean||12 Aug 1895, Invercargill||The only woman to be executed in New Zealand. A "baby-farmer" convicted of killing children in her care.|
|53||Etienne Brocher (aka Stephen Bosher)||21 Apr 1897, Wellington||Convicted of the double murder of his neighbours. Brocher entered into their house and stabbed them to death during a robbery in Petone, Lower Hutt.|
|54||William Sheehan||21 Jul 1897, Lyttelton||Convicted of the murder in April 1897 of one Agnes Lawcock at Amberley.|
|55||Frank Philpott||23 Mar 1898, Wellington||Convicted of murdering a rival for the affection of a woman.|
|56||Charles Clements||12 Apr 1898, Dunedin|
|57||Enoka||2 May 1898, New Plymouth||Convicted of murdering his wife.|
|58||Alexander McLean||31 Aug 1901, Lyttelton||Convicted of murdering a woman and her two children in Eyreton. McLean was the family's manservant, and is alleged to have killed them in order to rob the house.|
|59||James Ellis||28 Feb 1905, Wellington||Convicted of murdering Len Collinson, who worked clearing bush at Te Awaite, in southern Wairarapa. Ellis had been accused of minor criminal acts in the area, and Collinson had attempted to drive Ellis away from the work camp — it was reported that Collinson was aware of Ellis's previous conviction for rape.|
|60||Tahi Kaka||21 Jun 1911, Auckland||Convicted of murdering John Freeman, a gum-digger in Northland, while robbing him. Kaka's execution gave rise to controversy because of his youth.|
|61||Alfred Mortram Biddle||13 Dec 1913, Lyttelton||A blacksmith from Mayfield who was convicted of murdering the wife of a man who had hired him. Biddle stated that he did not know why he committed the crime, and denied suggestions that he had sexual motivations. He apparently attempted to commit suicide by poison while hiding from police.|
|62||Arthur Rottman||18 Mar 1915, Wellington||Convicted of murdering Joseph and Mary McCann, who employed him on their farm, with an axe.|
|63||Frank Edward Bennier||19 Jan 1918, Wellington||Convicted of murdering his wife, Ethel Emma Bennier, when she decided to leave him.|
|64||Frederick William Eggers||5 Mar 1918, Lyttelton||Convicted of murdering John Coulthard (and attempting to murder two others) in the course of holding up a vehicle transporting miners' wages in Runanga.|
|65||Dennis Gunn||22 Jun 1920, Auckland||Convicted of shooting Augustus Edward Braithwaite, the postmaster of Ponsonby, to obtain the keys to the local post office which he later robbed. Believed to be world-wide the first person convicted of a capital crime based entirely on fingerprint evidence.|
|66||Samuel John Thorne||20 Dec 1920, Auckland||Convicted of shooting Sydney Seymour Eyre, near Pukekohe. He was alleged to be in some form of relationship with Eyre's wife (who was said by prosecutors to be unwilling).|
|67||Hakaraia Te Kahu||10 Oct 1921, Auckland||Hakaraia te Kahu aged 27 was charged with wilfully murdering Patrick Richard Elliot at Mokai on Easter Sunday, 27 March 1921 so that he could steal money from him.|
|68||John Tuhi||19 Apr 1923, Wellington|
|69||Daniel Cooper||16 Jun 1923, Wellington||A "baby-farmer"at Newlands near Wellington, convicted of killing children in his care (his wife Martha was found "not guilty").|
|70||Robert Herbert Scott||17 Apr 1924, Auckland||Convicted of murdering Gwendoline Kathleen Murray (12 yrs old) in Makaraka Gisborne|
|71||Arthur Thomas Munn||29 Jul 1930, Auckland||A Northcote man convicted of poisoning his wife Lillie in order to inherit her property and marry his mistress.|
|72||George Coats||17 Dec 1931, Wellington||A worker on the Mount Victoria Tunnel excavations, convicted of murdering his pregnant girlfriend and hiding her body on the site.|
|73||Edward Tarrant||6 Mar 1933, Wellington||A woodcutter aged 58 from Australia, convicted of killing an elderly farmer named James FLOOD at Picton in November 1931 with an axe to steal a considerable sum of money.|
|74||John Hubert Edwards||11 Dec 1933, Auckland|
|75||George Edward James||15 Dec 1933, Wellington||Killed his live-in partner Cecilia Smith in their flat in Ohiro Rd, Brooklyn. He was later seen merrily cycling with her 4-year-old son Noel across the city. Hours later Noel’s body was found wedged in between some rocks at Shelly Bay. His head had been bashed. James then went to a Lambton Quay pub before throwing himself into the harbour. By the time police discovered the body of Ms Smith – lying on the bed, her throat slit – James had been rescued. He had left a suicide note on the wharf, blaming his daughter for his decision to kill those he loved.|
|76||Bill Bayly||20 Jul 1934, Auckland||A farmer convicted of murdering his neighbours, and suspected of earlier murdering his cousin.|
|77||Charles William Price||27 Jun 1935, Wellington||Allegedly an alcoholic, convicted of murdering his mistress in a field near Napier. Allegedly for a small sum of money, after an all day drinking session.|
|Capital punishment abolished for ordinary crimes from 1935 to 1950|
|78||William Geovanni Silveo Fiori||13 Mar 1952, Auckland||Murdered Jack Gabolinsky in his bed, along with his wife and infant son. Fiori reportedly was after the 1,163 pound payroll cheque Gabolinsky had withdrawn from the bank in order to pay his workers at the Minginui mill in the Ureweras the following day.|
|79||Eruera Te Rongapatahi||14 Sep 1953, Auckland||Convicted of murdering James Henderson, a taxi driver, at Mt. Somers Township on June 1953.|
|80||Harry Whiteland||21 Dec 1953, Auckland||Convicted of murdering 19-year-old Dorothy Rose Haldane, a Railways booking clerk at Reefton Railway Station on 27 August 1953.|
|81||Frederick Foster||7 Jul 1955, Auckland||Convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend at a milk bar on Queen Street.|
|82||Edward Te Whiu||18 Aug 1955, Auckland||Convicted of murdering an elderly woman who discovered him during a burglary.|
|83||Harvey Allwood||13 Oct 1955, Auckland||Convicted of murdering John Hughes of Makarewa.|
|84||Albert Laurence Black||5 Dec 1955, Auckland||Convicted of murdering Alan Keith Jacques at a cafe on Queen St. Auckland on 26 July 1955.|
|85||Walter James Bolton||18 Feb 1957, Auckland||Last person judicially executed before the abolition of capital punishment in New Zealand. Found guilty of poisoning his wife.|
|Capital punishment abolished for ordinary crimes in 1961, abolished for all crimes in 1989|
In addition to those executed under New Zealand's regular criminal justice system, five New Zealand soldiers fighting as part of the Allied war effort in World War I were court martialed and executed.
|1||Frank Hughes||25 Aug 1916||Convicted of desertion.|
|2||John Sweeney||2 Oct 1916||Convicted of desertion.|
|3||John Braithwaite||29 Oct 1916||Convicted of mutiny. After first being incarcerated for repeatedly being away without leave, he was accused of instigating a prison riot, although he claimed that he only involved himself in an attempt to calm it.|
|4||John King||19 Aug 1917||Convicted of desertion.|
|5||Victor Spencer||24 Feb 1918||Convicted of desertion.|
The executions, carried out by firing squad, were not made public at the time. All five were pardoned in 2000 when Parliament concluded that their conviction had been unjust, and that today, all would be regarded as mentally unfit to serve. Two (King and Sweeney) were born in Australia.
Number of executions by location
Initially, executions were carried out in public, and could be conducted at any suitable location — in at least one case (Joseph Burns, 1848) the prisoner was taken to the scene of the crime for execution. Executions from 1862 were carried out in private. Later, the number of locations was reduced to only two — Auckland (generally Mount Eden Prison) and Wellington (generally Mount Crawford Prison). In total, ten cities were the sites of executions.
|Location||Number of executions|
|Europe (in World War I)||5|
- Stone, Andrew (21 June 2014). "Pardoned at last: Chief cleared of 1865 murder". The New Zealand Herald.
- Daily Southern Cross of 2 September 1873, page 2; from the Sydney Mail of 23 August
- "The Woodgate Murder". The Marlborough Express. XI (873). 6 December 1876. p. 5. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Supreme Court Sittings". The Marlborough Express. XI (874). 9 December 1876. p. 6. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Extraordinary Failure of Justice in the Woodgate Case". The Marlborough Express. XII (887). 24 January 1877. p. 5. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Execution of Woodgate". The Marlborough Express. XII (888). 27 January 1877. p. 6. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Execution of Welsh". The Southland Times (3329). 20 February 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
- "The Waikawa Murder". Otago Witness (4000). 28 September 1878. p. 9. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
- Hunt, Tom (28 May 2016). "CSI Ponsonby, 1920". The Press. p. A14.
- Clio Francis. "Old prison reaches its use-by date". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- "Jack Arthur Charles Gabolinsky - Online Cenotaph - Auckland War Memorial Museum". Muse.aucklandmuseum.com. Retrieved 2015-08-25.