Parker–Hulme murder case

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Pauline Yvonne Parker
Pauline Yvonne Parker

(1938-05-26) 26 May 1938 (age 85)
Criminal statusReleased
Criminal chargeMurder
Penalty5 years
Anne Perry
Juliet Marion Hulme

(1938-10-28)28 October 1938
Died10 April 2023(2023-04-10) (aged 84)
Criminal statusReleased
Criminal chargeMurder
Penalty5 years

The Parker–Hulme murder case was the murder of Honorah Rieper in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 22 June 1954. The perpetrators were Rieper's teenage daughter Pauline Parker and her friend Juliet Hulme. Parker was 16 at the time, while Hulme was 15.

The murder received wider public attention following the release of Peter Jackson's 1994 film Heavenly Creatures.


Pauline Yvonne Parker (also known as Pauline Rieper) was born on 26 May 1938. She met Juliet Hulme when they were both in their early teens. Parker came from a working-class background. Her parents were part-time house staff and gardeners, employed by the University of Canterbury.[clarification needed] Her father, Herbert Rieper, and her mother, Honorah Parker, were living together but were not actually married (this was not public knowledge and was only revealed at the trial).[citation needed]

Juliet Hulme was born in London in 1938 and emigrated to New Zealand in 1948 with her parents. She was the daughter of Henry Hulme, a physicist who became the rector of University of Canterbury.[1] The university provided their accommodation and the family lived at Ilam Homestead. Both Hulme and Parker attended Christchurch Girls' High School.[1] The girls had both suffered illnesses as children – Parker osteomyelitis and Hulme tuberculosis[2] – which formed the basis of an initial connection. According to Parker's accounts, she and Hulme both romanticized the idea of being sick.

As their friendship developed, Parker and Hulme formed an elaborate fantasy life together. They wrote plays, books, and stories centred in this world. The girls had an intense friendship which caused concern in Parker's parents that they were engaged in a sexual relationship; homosexuality at the time was considered a mental illness. The Hulmes also had concerns, but both families continued to allow the girls to see one another, and Parker was accepted at the Hulme home in Ilam for overnights and vacations.[3] Hulme became withdrawn and ill when Parker would leave her home without her.

During their relationship, the girls invented their own personal religion, with their own ideas on morality. They rejected Christianity and worshipped their own saints, envisioning a parallel dimension called The Fourth World, essentially their version of Heaven. The Fourth World was a place that they felt they were already able to enter occasionally, during moments of spiritual enlightenment. By Parker's account, they had achieved this spiritual enlightenment because of their friendship.

Parker was not invited to go to Ilam over the summer holidays in 1953 as she had been in previous years. In 1954, Hulme's parents separated. Problems with faculty and the board forced Hulme’s father to resign from his position as rector of the university, and her mother was involved in an extramarital affair. Hulme's family planned to return to England, but it was decided that Hulme herself would be sent to live with relatives in South Africa—ostensibly for her health.

Both girls were heartbroken over their upcoming separation and decided that Parker should go to South Africa as well. They thought the Hulmes would agree to this plan. Parker was certain her mother would not allow her to go with Hulme. The girls formed a plan to murder Parker's mother in order to remove their perceived obstacle in them remaining together. Their long term plan was to go to South Africa and then head to Hollywood or New York City, where they believed they would publish their writing and work in film.


On the afternoon of 22 June 1954, Parker and Hulme had afternoon tea with Parker's mother, Honorah Rieper, in a tea kiosk in Victoria Park, Christchurch. Following their meal they walked through a wooded area of the park approximately 130 metres (430 ft) down the path, where Hulme and Parker bludgeoned Rieper to death with half of a brick enclosed in an old stocking.[4] After committing the murder, the two girls ran back to the Tea Kiosk. They were met by Agnes and Kenneth Ritchie, owners of the tea shop, whom they told that Rieper had fallen and hit her head.

Rieper's body was discovered in Victoria Park[4] by Ritchie. Major lacerations were found about her head, neck, and face, with minor injuries to her fingers. Police soon discovered the murder weapon in the nearby woods. The girls' story of Rieper's accidental death quickly fell apart.

Trial and conviction[edit]

Prior to the trial, Parker had been known as Pauline Rieper. Her mother had been living with her father, Herbert Rieper, but the police investigations revealed that they were not, in fact, married. Thus, during the trial, both Honorah and Pauline were referred to with the surname "Parker".[5]

The trial was a sensational affair, with speculation about the girls' possible lesbianism and insanity. Parker and Hulme were convicted on 28 August 1954; and, as they were too young to be considered for the death penalty, each spent five years in prison. Juliet Hulme served her sentence at Mount Eden prison in Auckland.[6] Some sources say they were released on condition that they never contact each other again,[7] but Sam Barnett, then Secretary for Justice, told journalists there was no such condition.[8] Hulme's release was unconditional, and she immediately rejoined her father in Italy, while Parker was placed on six months' parole in New Zealand, after which she left the country.

Less than four months later, the murder was taken as strong evidence of moral decline by the Special Committee on Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents in what became known as the Mazengarb Report, named after its chair, Ossie Mazengarb.[9]


Following her release from prison, Parker was given a new identity as Hilary Nathan,[10] and spent some time in New Zealand under close surveillance before being allowed to leave for England. From at least 1992, she was living in the small village of Hoo, near Strood, Kent, and running a children's riding school.[11] As an adult, she became a devout Roman Catholic. While she has never spoken to the press, in a 1996 statement released through her sister she expressed strong remorse for having killed her mother. Her sister further stated that "[Pauline] committed the most terrible crime and has spent 40 years repaying it by keeping away from people and doing her own little thing ... After it happened, she was very sorry about it. It took her about five years to realise what she had done."[11]

After her release from prison, Hulme spent time in England and the United States, later settling in Scotland and becoming a successful historical detective novelist under her new name, Anne Perry. She had been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since about 1968.[12] Until 1994, it was not well-known that Perry was Hulme. In March 2006, Hulme/Perry stated that, while her relationship with Parker was obsessive, they were not lesbians.[10]

Hulme/Perry died on 10 April, 2023, at the age of 84.

Media portrayals[edit]



  • Beryl Bainbridge's first novel, Harriet Said..., was inspired by newspaper reports of the case.[15]
  • The case also inspired Evie Wyld's novel All The Birds, Singing.[16]
  • Micah Nemerever's debut novel, These Violent Delights, is partially inspired by these events. The two main characters' "emotional dynamic" is based upon the relationship of Parker and Perry. The characters are named "Paul" and "Julian" after Pauline and Juliet respectively. [17]
  • Peter Graham's nonfiction book on the case explores the girls' lives, upbringing, and the social context of contemporary Christchurch. Originally published in 2011 under the name "So Brilliantly Clever," (a reference to a phrase used in Parker's diary to refer to herself and Hulme), [18] the 2013 edition gained the more sensational title of "Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century". While neither woman agreed to an interview, Graham did gain access to trial transcripts and Parker's diaries, and he interviewed people who knew them as teens. [19]


  • Angela Carter wrote an unproduced screenplay called The Christchurch Murder in which Parker was renamed Lena Ball and Hulme, Nerissa Locke.[20] Carter's screenplay was influenced by Heavenly Creatures and was later produced as a play for radio, airing on BBC Radio 4 in September 2018.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Pauline Parker". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 22 June 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  2. ^ Department of Justice (1974) [1968]. Crime in New Zealand: A Survey of New Zealand Criminal Behaviour. Wellington: A R Shearer Government Printer. pp. 44, 45.
  3. ^ "History". The University of Canterbury Club. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Dutiful Daughters". TruTV Crime Library. Archived from the original on 1 September 2007.
  5. ^ Parker–Hulme murder case; Star-Sun, 23 August 1954, p.1
  6. ^ Carlson, Michael (18 April 2023). "Anne Perry obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  7. ^ "'Heavenly Creatures' found guilty of murder". New Zealand History Online. NZ Ministry for Culture & Heritage. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  8. ^ Graham, Peter (2011). So Brilliantly Clever: Parker, Hulme & The Murder that Shocked the World. Awa Press. p. 261. ISBN 978-1-877551-12-3.
  9. ^ Mazengarb, Ossie (1954). "Preliminary Observations". Report of the Special Committee on Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents. p. 7 – via Gutenberg. the news that two girls, each aged about 16 years had been arrested in Christchurch on a charge of murdering the mother of one of them. It soon became widely believed (and this fact was established at their subsequent trial) that the girls were homosexual.
  10. ^ a b "We were not lesbians, says former Juliet Hulme". The New Zealand Herald. 5 March 2006. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012.
  11. ^ a b Cooke, Chris (c. 1994). "Parker-Hulme murder exclusive". New Zealand Woman's Weekly. Archived from the original on 21 July 2006 – via
  12. ^ Perry, Anne. "Biography". Anne Perry ( Archived from the original on 19 October 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  13. ^ Reflections of the Past at IMDb
  14. ^ Reflections of the Past official website.
  15. ^ Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Guernica Magazine (August 2014). "Felt Not Known". Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics.
  17. ^ Greif, Quentin. "These Violent Delights Interview – Aptly". Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  18. ^ Paul O'Hare. "Notorious Kiwi killers 60 years on.. living 90 miles apart in Scotland". Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  19. ^ Kirkus Reviews. "Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century". Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  20. ^ The Curious Room
  21. ^ "Get Carter: The Christchurch Murder," adapted for radio by Robin Brooks and produced by Allegra. Premiered on BBC Radio 4 on 22/09/2018.
  22. ^ McCurdy, Marian Lea (2007). "Women Murder Women: Case Studies in Theatre and Film" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • J.H.H. Gaute and Robin Odell, The New Murderers' Who's Who, 1996, Harrap Books, London
  • Famous Criminal Cases, Volume Two, 1955, London
  • Hallmark of Horror, 1973, London
  • Obsession, 1958, London
  • More Criminal Files, 1957, London
  • Patrick Wilson, Children who kill, 1973, London
  • Glamuzina, Julie and Alison J. Laurie, 1991 Parker and Hulme, a lesbian view. Auckland, New Women's Press. Re-published 1995, Ithaca, Firebrand Books. With an introduction by B. Ruby Rich.
  • Peter Graham, Anne Perry and the murder of the century , 2011

External links[edit]