Curator's Casefile

Curator's Casefile is a series of 10 stories about objects in our collection, covering policing history, escaped convicts, unsolved murders, sly-grogging and anarchists.

The stories have been researched and written by Victoria University of Wellington intern Danielle Campbell.

Riccarton Hotel Unsolved Murder

During the early hours of 17 November 1933, Donald Fraser was killed by two shots from a double-barrelled shotgun while his wife Elizabeth lay asleep in bed next to him. ... more

Photo of a “GOTCHA” Badge

Fingerprinting and the “GOTCHA” Badges

The development of fingerprinting in New Zealand can be credited to Walter Dinnie, former Chief Inspector of the London Metropolitan Police, who became New Zealand Police Commissioner in 1903. ... more

bottle of Hokonui Moonshine

Sly-grogging and Hokonui Moonshine

The McRae family, who produced the original Hokonui Moonshine, have gone down in history as New Zealand’s most famous whisky bootleggers. ... more

Photo of fingerprinting kit

Trades Hall Bombing Fingerprinting Kit

On 27 March 1984, Ernest Abbot was killed by a bomb hidden inside a suitcase that exploded at Trades Hall in Wellington. ... more

Photo of enamel plate

Prisoner’s Enamel Plate

This enamel dinner plate belonged to Detective Edward Eade. In the centre of the plate is a depiction of Lyttelton Heads, said to have been painted by a prisoner at Lyttelton Gaol who had a view of ... more

Photo of Wanganui Computer

Wanganui Computer Bombing

At a time when CCTV cameras, internet surveillance and digital data storage were virtually unknown, New Zealanders were deeply concerned with the development of a computer thought to be the country ... more

Photo of baton

1932 Auckland Riot Baton

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, there were a series of riots relating to unemployment throughout the country. The incidents, known as the 1932 Depression Riots, took place in Dunedin, ... more

photo of Pipe Band pin

New Zealand Police Highland Pipe Band

The New Zealand Police Pipe Band is based at the Royal New Zealand Police College near Porirua, Wellington. The band performs at police functions, ceremonies, cultural festivities and community ... more

photo of reward notice

Rudolph Radka Prison Escape

On the morning of 24 September 1888, warders at H.M Prison in Invercargill discovered that Rudolph Radka, an inmate awaiting trial for arson, was not in his cell. ... more

photo of antique key

Mount Eden Prison Keys

On 20 July 1965, a large scale riot erupted at Mount Eden Prison following a failed escape attempt by inmates Daniel McMillan and Jonassen Sadaraka. ... more