Writer Joanne Drayton on the Parker-Hulme murder that shaped her career

New Zealand Listener — May 26, 2017

An unthinkable crime rocked New Zealand in 1954, when two seemingly ordinary Christchurch teenagers, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, killed Parker’s mother. 

Anyone growing up in the city in the 50s and 60s, as Joanne Drayton did, was acutely aware of the murder and the hushed talk of the girls’ “unnatural” devotion to each other. After their convictions for murder, Parker and Hulme were jailed for five years, and later both left New Zealand to start new but separate lives. 

Drayton says that for many years later, “it was a case of every female principal getting the high-pressure hose out to douse any intense female friendships, because they could be dangerous”.

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