The Parker-Hulme Affair - Forbidden Love and a Stone in the Garden
On 22 June 1954, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme suggested Pauline’s mother Honorah take them on an outing to Victoria Park in Christchurch’s hills. The three had afternoon tea in the park’s tearooms, then went for a walk in the pleasant rural surroundings, where the teenagers attacked and killed Honorah Parker, bludgeoning her with a brick in a stocking. Pauline had just turned 16, and Juliet was 15 – Archives New Zealand from New Zealand, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Parker-Hulme Affair. picturesque city of Christchurch, with its lush botanical gardens and serene Avon River, paints a tranquil picture of 1950s New Zealand. But in June 1954, this tranquility was shattered by a crime so sensational and unexpected, it left an indelible mark on the nation’s consciousness.

Juliet Hulme, a well-spoken 15-year-old with a flair for the dramatic, had struck a deep friendship with Pauline Parker, a year her junior but equally vivacious and imaginative. Their bond was intense, even by the standards of close teenage friendships. With shared dreams, diaries filled with elaborate fantasies, and a world where only the two of them mattered, they became inseparable. The two even crafted an intricate imaginary kingdom, one in which they reigned supreme, free from societal constraints.

However, the outside world wasn’t as understanding. When the girls’ relationship became known, many, including Pauline’s mother Honora, viewed it with suspicion, seeing it as unnaturally close and even insinuating a lesbian relationship—something heavily stigmatized in the conservative society of the time. As the girls’ bond deepened, they grew more isolated, with plans of moving away to the United States to pursue their dreams together. But when it became apparent that their families, particularly Honora, would become an obstacle to their plans, the pair decided on a disturbing course of action.

On a winter’s day, under the guise of a stroll in Victoria Park, the girls led Honora down a secluded path. What followed was brutal: using a brick encased in a stocking, they bludgeoned her to death. Their initial claim of having found the body after a terrible accident soon fell apart under scrutiny, and both Juliet and Pauline were arrested for the murder.

The subsequent trial was a media sensation. The shocking nature of the crime, combined with the girls’ youth and the underlying insinuations about their relationship, made for salacious headlines. Ultimately, they were found guilty, but due to their age, they couldn’t be sentenced to death. Instead, both were sent to separate prisons, with the stipulation that they never contact each other again.

After serving just over five years, both were released and went on to live under new identities. Juliet Hulme became the successful crime novelist Anne Perry, while Pauline Parker disappeared from the public eye.

The Parker-Hulme affair, a murder stirred passionate debates about societal norms, the nature of close friendships, and the depths to which individuals might go when they feel trapped. The story later inspired the film “Heavenly Creatures” directed by Peter Jackson, further cementing the case’s status as one of the most infamous and captivating in New Zealand’s history

Don Leith

By Don Leith

Retired from the real world. A love of research left over from my days on the debate team in college long ago led me to work on this website. Granted, not all these stories are "fun" or even "trivial" But they all are either weird, unusual or even extraordinary. Working on this website is "fun" in any case. Hope you enjoy it!