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Lionel Terry kills Joe Kum Young, Haining Street, 1905 | by Archives New Zealand
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Lionel Terry kills Joe Kum Young, Haining Street, 1905

On September 24 1905, Lionel Terry, murdered Chinese migrant Joe Kum Hung to highlight his campaign to get rid of Chinese people in New Zealand. Terry, who had recently settled in New Zealand, walked 1400 km from Mangōnui to Wellington, attracting considerable attention as he went. Along the way he distributed copies of The Shadow, a book of verse with a long introduction on the need for racial purity. He shot Joe Kum Yung on the night of 24 September. Terry surrendered to the police the following morning, handing over his revolver and a copy of The Shadow. When his case went to trial in November, Terry conducted his own defence. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, a sentence that was commuted to life imprisonment on the grounds of insanity. Terry escaped from Sunnyside twice in 1906 and from Seacliff in 1907 and 1908. Terry died at Seacliff on 20 August 1952, aged 79. He had spent the last 12 years of his life in solitary confinement.


The image of Lionel Terry and newspaper cuttings are from the Police file for Lionel Terry. The file starts in 1905 with the case of murdering Joe Kum Hung and continues through to 1908, including details on Terry's escape from Seacliff mental asylum. As the murder took place more than 100 years ago, the Police file is open access and can be viewing in our Wellington Reading Room. We also have other files on this case which can be located on our online finding aid Archway.


File Reference - ACIS 17627 P1 291 1905/1999

Information for caption gathered from NZ History -


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Taken on September 2, 2013