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Justice System

Events In History

18 February 1957

Walter Bolton, a 68-year-old Whanganui farmer, became the last person executed in New Zealand.

26 October 1942

The Women Jurors Act provided for women aged between 25 and 60 to have their names placed on the jury list on the same basis as men – if they so desired.

30 October 1865

The Native Land Court was one of the key products of the Native Lands Act 1865. It enabled the conversion of traditional communal landholdings into individual titles, making it much easier for Pākehā to purchase Māori land.


Maungatapu murders, 1866

The 'Burgess gang' murdered and thieved their way around the South Island during the 1860s. Their most notorious crime was five killings over two days in June 1866, on the Maungatapu track near Nelson. Now you can read their story in a virtual comic book. Read the full article

Page 5 - The trial

Deposition proceedings against the gang began on 2 August 1866 amid great excitement. Only now was it revealed that Sullivan had informed on the

Page 6 - The executions

Members of the Nelson Volunteers surrounded the gaol on the morning of the execution to ensure that 'good order was maintained' by the

Page 7 - Aftermath

When Joseph Sullivan returned to Hokitika to give evidence about the robbery of the Hokitika police camp and the murder of George Dobson, a mob called for him to be

Page 8 - Further information

Further reading and links to information about the Maungatapu

Wahine disaster

This April marks the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the ferry Wahine. With more than 50 lives lost, this was New Zealand's worst modern maritime disaster. The Wahine’s demise on 10 April 1968 also heralded a new era in local television, as pictures of the disaster were beamed into living rooms around the country. Read the full article

Page 4 - Court of inquiry

The court of inquiry that met 10 weeks after the sinking pinpointed the build-up of water in the vehicle deck as the reason the ferry finally

Erebus disaster

On 28 November 1979, 237 passengers and 20 crew were killed when Air New Zealand Flight TE901 crashed into Mt Erebus, Antarctica. The tragedy was followed by a demanding recovery operation and a raging debate over who or what was to blame Read the full article

Page 6 - Finding the cause

Following the death of so many people, it was not surprising that official investigations of the tragedy sparked debate and