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Part of the coroner’s inquest report for Annie Smyth | by Archives New Zealand
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Part of the coroner’s inquest report for Annie Smyth

On this day 9 August 1942 two children playing in the Wairoa Salvation Army barracks made a grim discovery.


When they ventured into the kitchen they found the mutilated corpse of Brigadier Annie Smyth sprawled in a chair. Terrified they ran away and told no one of their discovery, and another two weeks went by before a local man found the bodies of Annie and her sister Rosamond. Annie Smyth had been heartily disliked in the small Hawkes Bay community for her habit of interfering in peoples’ lives and pointing out their character defects. Everyone dreaded the sight of her sweeping up their driveway on her bicycle to deliver judgement on their behaviour. Before coming to Wairoa she had worked as a missionary in Japan and she lost no opportunity to praise the people and culture there. Unsurprisingly this was not appreciated by New Zealanders given the fact that the Second World War was raging and Japan was on the enemy side. Her sister Rosamond had an entirely different character. Small, vague and deaf, she sang hymns as she went about her work keeping house for Annie. She never visited the nearby town and no one had reason to dislike her. It was thought that she was murdered so she couldn’t reveal the identity of the killer.


The police had an unenviable task. They looked at everyone who had come into conflict with Annie and also those who had lost family members in the war. But they found nothing to lead them to the killer at the crime scene and no one came forward with information. The murders have never been solved.


Shown here is part of the coroner’s inquest report for Annie Smyth.



Shown here is


Archives New Zealand Reference: ACGS 16231 J46 1160 / COR1943/50


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Uploaded on August 5, 2016