Author(s): David Hastings
'Dreadful murder at Opunake', said the Taranaki Herald, 'Shocking outrage', cried the Evening Post in Wellington when they learned in November 1880 that a young woman called Mary Dobie had been found lying under a flax bush near Opunake on the Taranaki coast with her throat cut so deep her head was almost severed. In the midst of tensions between Maori and Pakeha in 1880, the murder ignited questions: Pakeha feared it was an act of political terrorism in response to the state's determination to take the land of the tribes in the region. Maori thought it would be the cue for the state to use force against them, especially the pacifist settlement at Parihaka. Was it rape or robbery, was the killer Maori or Pakeha? In this book, David Hastings takes us back to that lonely road on the Taranaki coast in nineteenth-century New Zealand to unravels the many deaths of Mary Dobie - the murder, the social tensions in Taranaki, the hunt for the killer and the lessons that Maori and Pakeha learnt about the murder and about themselves.
David Hastings holds an MA (Hons) in History from the University of Auckland. A former editor of the Weekend Herald, he is the author of Over the Mountains of the Sea: Life on the Migrant Ships, 1870-1885 and Extra! Extra! How the People Made the News, both published by Auckland University Press.