Case 32: The Newlands Baby Farmer (PART I)

NEWLANDS. WELLINGTON. In the 1800s to early 1920s, there was another, more controversial, type of farming going on, baby farming. Baby farming is the historical practice of accepting custody of an infant or child in exchange for payment. This was usually due to the child being born ‘illegitimate’ (meaning the child was born outside of a marriage, also known as bastardy) and the social stigma that it carried on the mother. 

Some baby farmers ‘adopted’ children for lump-sum payments, while others cared for infants for periodic payments. However, in the case of a lump-sum adoption, it was more profitable for the baby farmers if the child was no longer around, as the sum would not cover the care for the child for long. In these cases, the child was sometimes adopted out to other families, and in other cases, the child simply died due to unsanitary and subpar living conditions. However, finally and most sinister, occasionally the baby farmer would commit the most heinous of acts and murder the child; pocketing the adoption fee.

These acts came to light most infamously when English serial killer and baby farmer Amelia Dyer dubbed the Ogress of Reading was officially tried and hanged in 1896 for intentionally killing six children for profit but it is estimated the real number of child deaths she was responsible for was closer to 400.

New Zealand had its own baby farmer scandal late in the 1800s when Minnie Dean was tried and hanged for the murder of three children in 1895.

However, in the early 1920s, baby farming became a topic of controversy once more within NZ as a new scandal gripped the public. With headlines splattered over the NZ Truth newspaper such as “The Newlands Horror”, “A Gruesome Discovery” and “The Massacre of the Innocents”, the public was enraptured yet horrified with what was being uncovered. The case would go on to become one of NZ’s most discussed and pondered tragedies of the 1920s. This is the story of The Newlands Baby Farmer.

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Case 31: Christchurch House of Horrors (PART II)

CHRISTCHURCH. CANTERBURY. Thursday. 25th of September 2008. Some time between 11 am and 12.30 pm. 32-year-old Jason Somerville is home alone at his house, 312 Wainoni Road, on the corner of Hampshire Street and Wainoni Road in the Christchurch suburb of Aranui, his wife Rebecca Chamberlain was out and about.

“I was outside [chopping] some wood, came in to get a drink, someone was knocking at the front door. It was her…”. ‘Her’ was 28-year-old Tisha Lowry wearing a Chicago Bulls jacket and jeans who had just walked home from the nearby Bower Tavern. It would seem that Tisha had been to Jason’s house previously (she lived only two doors away with her grandfather), what she had come over for this day is unknown.

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Case 31: Christchurch House of Horrors (PART I)

CHRISTCHURCH. CANTERBURY. Within the eastern suburbs of Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand, you will find Aranui. Originally called Flemington (after one time resident of the area Jubal Fleming), Aranui (a Māori word meaning great path) was officially established in 1912.

Found in the middle of Aranui is Hampshire Street, dubbed by many “the worst street in Christchurch”. During the 1990s, Hampshire Street was infamous for many instances of violent crime including a 13-year-old boy who was shot by his best friend, a fish and chips shop being firebombed and many occurrences of teenagers being stabbed.

In the 2000s, Hampshire Street improved its standing in Aranui, mostly with the help of the Aranui Community Trust and a Labour government that helped revitalise state housing areas. However, Hampshire Street still saw its fair share of violent crime. 

Of those crimes, none are more infamous than the depravity that took place in the house on the corner of Hampshire Street and Wainoni Road, between the years 2008 and 2009. The debaucherous, degenerate and depraved crimes shocked, not only the residents of Aranui, or the citizens of New Zealand but the world at large. 

This is the tale of that wickedness, an account of the folk that frequented the house at the corner of Hampshire Street and Wainoni Road, the story of the building that forever became known as The Christchurch House of Horrors.

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HISTORY IV: 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour (PART II)

22nd July 1981. The Springboks began the journey down the east coast of New Zealand and found their way to Gisborne. The Springboks were to play Poverty Bay (a small bay near Gisborne) for their first game in NZ.

To enter Rugby Park (where the game was being played), spectators had to agree to be searched upon entry. Items such as banners, placards, flags, poles, fireworks, or “any article that might impede the match” were banned.

As the game kicked off, over 300 anti-apartheid protesters marched across the neighbouring golf course to reach Rugby Park. A wire fence separated folk watching the game with barbed wire topping it and a line of police officers attempting to keep the peace.

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HISTORY IV: 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour (PART I)

Apartheid even extended to sport. Leagues were established in all sports, separated by race. For instance, football (soccer) was divided into the white South African Football Association, the African Indian Football Association, the South African African Football Association, the South African Bantu Football Association, and the South African Coloured Football Association

This led to many countries boycotting international play of various sports with South Africa. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) banned South Africa from international games.

However, the world governing body for the sport of rugby union, the International Rugby Board (now called World Rugby) did not suspend South Africa from international games, and South Africa remained a member throughout the apartheid era.

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ANZAC III: The (Other) Great Escape

In 1937, Nazi Germany began work on building the first and the largest concentration camp in Germany. Found eight kilometres north of the city of Weimar, the camp was able to incarcerate over 60,000 people.

Opened in July 1938, the camp was dubbed Buchenwald. Buchenwald Concentration Camp was comprised of three distinct areas, the first area was dubbed the Special Compound, this included the administration offices, the Commandant’s Villa, and finally the Schutzstaffel (or, SS) Quarters. The SS was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror in Nazi Germany.

Prisoners of the camp included Jewish people, political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, German military deserters, asocials (which included the homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, the unemployable and pacifists) and finally, prisoners of war.

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