Parker-Hulme murder in Christchurch

22 June 1954

Armed with a brick in a stocking, 16-year-old Pauline Parker and her best friend Juliet Hulme, 15, became two of New Zealand’s most notorious female murderers when they killed Pauline’s mother, Honora, in Victoria Park, Christchurch.

Entangled in a classic folie à deux (shared delusion), the teenagers shared a fantasy world of princes, damsels, heroes and villains. Dreams of Hollywood stardom were threatened when their parents decided that the girls’ friendship had become obsessive and codependent. Plans were afoot for Juliet’s family to leave New Zealand.

Their week-long trial was a sensation. Testimony that the girls were insane was rejected. The pair were found guilty, sentenced to indefinite imprisonment, and ordered never to contact each other again.

In a decade when − if the Mazengarb Report is to be believed − teenagers terrorised the nation, this case drew extraordinary attention both here and overseas. It remains one of New Zealand’s most infamous murders and lives on in popular culture, having inspired a play, Michaelanne Forster’s Daughters of heaven, and Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-nominated film Heavenly creatures.

The two young women were released after serving about five years in prison. Juliet Hulme later changed her name to Anne Perry and became a successful writer. Both she and Parker now live in the United Kingdom.

Image: Parker and Hulme (Chch City Libraries).