Case 29: Elizabeth Battersea

PAKIRI. AUCKLAND. By the mid-1800s, conversations were being had surrounding further expansion of women’s rights within marriage, and their access to education and employment. Due to the women’s rights movements, women had more opportunities in life. They received greater access to education. Also, for the first time, they could take on work outside of the home. Women became accepted in certain occupations in society, they were finding work as cooks, teachers, nurses and secretaries. 

The first major victory for the movement came in 1860 with the ‘Married Women’s Property Protection Act’, which allowed women to keep any money they earned if they were deserted by their husbands.

Women were given the right to divorce their husbands in 1867 under the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act. For men to obtain a divorce they had to prove their wife had committed adultery. However, for women to obtain a divorce they had to prove their husband had committed adultery plus an act of either: incest, bigamy, rape, sodomy, bestiality, desertion of at least two years or extreme, brutal cruelty.

By 1874, women’s rights had come a long way since the turn of the century, but there was still a long road ahead. The long road to equality had only just begun.

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CHRISTMAS II: The Tangiwai Disaster

At 3 pm on Christmas Eve 1953, a Thursday, the daily Express train No. 626, a KA 949 class steam locomotive, left the Wellington railway station en route to Auckland carrying 285 souls, some men, some women, some children, many families visiting relatives, or even folk returning home for the holidays armed with presents for their loved ones. 

As the evening progressed, the train passed through Levin, Palmerston North, Feilding and Taihape. Nearing 10 pm, train No. 626 passed through the small military town of Waiouru, perhaps passengers looked out and observed the famous Waiouru Military Camp, home to many of NZ’s armed forces at the time.

At 10.20 pm, train No. 626 passed the Tangiwai Railway Station, it was clocked at 64 kilometres per hour (or 40 miles per hour), below the maximum track speed of 80km/h (or 50mph). The train continued chugging along and began approaching the rail bridge that crosses the Whangaehu River.

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TCNZ visits Canada: Greyhound Bus 1170 (PART II)

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, CANADA. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which sufferers interpret reality abnormally. This can manifest with disordered thinking, delusions and hallucinations.

During a psychotic episode of schizophrenia, the sufferer may be hearing and seeing things that aren’t really there, or believe that something is controlling their thoughts. Sometimes a combination of these symptoms, this ‘disordered thinking’ can also lead to dysfunctional impulsivity and impulsive aggression. And sometimes, innocent people get hurt.

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TCNZ visits Canada: Greyhound Bus 1170 (PART I)

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, CANADA. A place distinguished for its politeness, Canada is a land with low crime rates and is considered to be one of the safest destinations in the world to live. However, as with all countries, Canada has its darkness, tales you wouldn’t want to put in a tourist pamphlet, events she is ashamed of.

Today, as we touch down 13,000km northeast of Aotearoa in the great nation of Canada, we will investigate one such abhorrent tale. A story of a young man travelling on a bus, the routine trip that became a haunting nightmare, the tale of ‘Greyhound Bus 1170’.

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TALES I: Opo the Friendly Dolphin

In June 1955, three bottlenose dolphins were observed by a local fisherman on the shores of Opononi. Spotting the dolphins by their dorsal fin, he believed the sea creatures to be sharks, so he pulled out his rifle and shot at them. 

Two of the three dolphins were never seen again, believed to have died by the gunfire but one remained. It is believed that of the three dolphins in the pod, the two that died were the mother and sibling of the now only remaining bottlenose. The surviving dolphin was a friendly sort, and became a regular visitor to the bay, warming the hearts of all who met him.

As months passed, the dolphin stuck around the harbour. At first the bottlenose was, understandably, a little hesitant to get too close to the locals, in particular the fisherman. But slowly, the townsfolk won the trust of the bottlenose and he gradually ventured closer and closer to shore.

Locals became enamored with the ocean mammal, and they decided to name the dolphin, ‘Opononi Jack’, in reference to another famous NZ dolphin ‘Pelorus Jack’, but, as time went on, the gay dolphin at Opononi became more widely refered to as ‘Opo the friendly dolphin’.

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Case 28: The Bunker in the Bush

On the 10th of July 2002, a team of five Wellington council workers were wandering through the Rimutaka forest, near Upper Hutt, laying 1080 poison bait for possums. The team eventually got around to the Tunnel Gully Recreation Area, a place named after its proximity to the historic Mangaroa Tunnel, a part of the Wairarapa Rail Line, that connected Wellington to Woodville, a small town of 1,600 found 25km east of Palmerston North.

The team wandered off the bush track, laying more bait, when one of the workers came across something that caught his attention. The council worker noticed a disturbed patch of dirt about 10-20m off the track. At first glance, he believed it could be a grave.

The worker crept in closer to get a better look, as he got closer, he observed the ‘disturbed’ dirt was a piece of wood with a small ponga fern on top. The worker told the NZ Herald on the 1st of May 2003, “It wasn't right. Why would a ponga tree be growing on top of a board?”

The city council worker then called over one of his colleagues and together they cleared the debris off the wood. Hmmm, what is this? They thought. The two workers crouched down and lifted the wood. To their shock and amazement, the piece of wood was actually a trap door, when they peered inside they discovered a plywood bunker.

The bunker was two metres long, one metre high and just over a metre wide and contained a bevy of supplies. These included a blanket, thirty three cans of drinks, fifty nine small chocolate bars, two bottles of Lindauer Special Reserve wine, Griffin's Krispie biscuits, cheese, mineral water, juice, nine bananas, twenty nine apples, and one, reportedly soggy toilet paper roll.

The bunker also had a ‘primitive toilet’, which apparently amounted to a hole in the corner and a tube of supplied air which ventilated the structure, with instructions written on the wall, “OPERATE FAN… 10 MINUITES… EVERY HOUR… FOR CIRCULATION”.

Most curious and disturbing, the plywood bunker contained a welcome message for a possible unwilling tenant. Scrawled on the wall to the right of the fan were the words: “WELCOME TO YOUR NEW HOME… MAX STAY 6 DAYS… WE WILL NOT HURT YOU”.

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