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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Sensational Robberies, Etc

Sensational Robberies, Etc.

A sensational case of breaking and entering occurred at Gisborne in June, 1914, when jewellery to the value of £2,000 was stolen from the premises of H. J. Grieve. Charles Henry Newton, alias Murray, was found guilty of the offence, sentenced to two years' hard labour and declared an habitual criminal. Two men who had seen him plant some of the stolen goods under an empty house helped themselves to a portion. They were placed on probation for two years. The rest of the goods were found buried in a tin on Awapuni golf links.

Intruders daringly entered the Matawhero Hotel on the night of 27 December, 1947, and stole a safe valued at £95, cheques and money to the value of £832, and some tobacco, the property of Wattie Wilson (the page 205 landlord) and others. Mr. Wilson heard a noise, and, from his balcony, saw a car drive away. The safe was taken to a gun emplacement on Kaiti Hill and blown open. Next day a car was found abandoned near the Oweka Stream. Douglas Wright, labourer, of Auckland, who was arrested at Te Kaha on 5 January, 1948, was sentenced to three years' hard labour, declared an habitual criminal, and deprived of the right to obtain a motor driver's license for ten years. The Judge considered that he had had the help of some other person or persons. A large sum, which had been hidden in the bank of a stream, was found by some native children and returned to Mr. Wilson.

For over five years Hare Matenga, known as “The Maori Outlaw,” avoided a police net set for him in the East Coast districts. In September, 1902, he stole a horse, and, when he was bailed up by the police, slipped into the bush at Pakihiroa. Thefts from stations on the Coast, around Motu and in the Ruakituri district were reported from time to time. During the winter of 1905 Detective Broberg, of Wellington (who, in 1904, had, at Duff's Flat, captured Ellis, the murderer of Leonard Collinson, of Martinborough) led a search party. Tracks were found in the high country at the back of Tolaga Bay, but the fugitive was never sighted. In December, 1907, the detective and another party found Matenga at Erepeti pa, near Ruakituri, and he submitted quietly to arrest.

A fatality marked by unusual features engaged the attention of the Gisborne police in May, 1929. The body of Samuel McAleese, a road worker, was found on the side of the road on Papamoa Hill. He had died as a result of a bullet piercing his heart. It had been discharged from a pearifle which was in a sugar bag but had been taken apart. There were also facial injuries. Two motorists testified at the inquest that he was alive when they passed the spot. The jury found that he met his death from a bullet fired from his own rifle; that the weapon was accidentally discharged; that the other injuries were received after death; and that the body had been moved, but how or by whom there was no evidence to show. It was believed that he was struck by a passing vehicle and that, when the bag fell, the rifle went off.

The sad fate of Harry Boyd Foote, a five-year-old boy, who wandered away from the Gisborne showground on “People's Day,” 23 October, 1929, was not revealed until over twelve months afterwards. He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Foote, of Gisborne, and had received permission to go over to a refreshment stall to obtain an ice cream. An extensive search was made by the Boy Scouts, as well as by the police, and the fire brigade pumped the water out of a pond on the grounds, but these efforts proved unavailing. It was then conjectured that he might have been kidnapped, and the scope of the inquiries was extended to include even those towns in Australia which were on the rounds covered by the sideshow men who had visited Gisborne. In November, 1930, the painful mystery was solved when E. Harden found a child's skeleton near a tidal waterway alongside Awapuni Lagoon.