Pauline Yvonne Parker was born on May 26, 1938, in Christchurch, New Zealand, the third-born child of Honora Mary Parker, 29, and Herbert Detlev Rieper, 43.
As a young child of five, Pauline contracted osteomyelitis and was hospitalized for nine months. She was near death at one point, and the illness and treatment were extremely painful for her. Little Pauline was reported to have borne the pain bravely and quietly. Two years later, at the age of seven, she was forced to undergo a second painful operation to drain infection from her leg. Pauline's illness left her with a permanent, though not crippling, handicap which would excuse her from physical education and sports throughout childhood. Pauline had chronic, recurring pain in her leg throughout her childhood and youth and she took pain killers quite frequently throughout this time. Otherwise, her childhood was described by her father as "uneventful." She attended a local primary school but had to be in a class by herself for nearly two years following her discharge from hospital because of the school's organization. Pauline was eight when her family moved to 31 Gloucester St.
Throughout much of her later childhood, Pauline attended East Belt Methodist Church regularly with her sister, Wendy, though her parents were not regular parishoners. She and her sister went on outings and vacations in the country sponsored by the Church. Pauline was described as a serious, mature, bright girl and an imaginitive, gifted writer. She became interested in creative modelling in plasticine and wood and became quite accomplished. Upon entering Christchurch Girls High School in February 1952, at the age of 12, Pauline was placed into the top stream. Note that Pauline entered High School at the normal age, despite having been hospitalized for the better part of a year.
Soon after Juliet Hulme began attending Girls' High, Pauline Parker began a friendship with Juliet that would come to distance Pauline from her family. The friendship between the two girls was also to push the bounds of local social norms in many ways; their physical closeness at school was disapproved of and commented upon as early as mid-1952. Glamuzina and Laurie paint Pauline's family, in particular, as becoming progressively more concerned at the growing friendship between Pauline and Juliet, disapproving of the changes they saw in Pauline and in her behaviour and her attitudes as the friendship grew.
The two girls were separated for the first time by Juliet's quarantine in the TB sanatorium. Pauline Parker was a loyal, loving and extremely important friend to Juliet during this very difficult time in Juliet's life. In later years, Juliet Hulme would comment that she would come to feel an extreme debt of gratitude and obligation to Pauline Parker because of Pauline's unwavering support and companionship during this "dark and lonely time." Juliet would refer to Pauline's friendship as a "lifeline" during her confinement at the sanatorium.
Pauline wrote extensively during this time, in the form of letters to Juliet, stories and in personal diaries beginning in January, 1953. Pauline's diaries would eventually provide most of the physical evidence for premeditation of Honora Parker's murder. They would also be used extensively by the army of psychiatrists in their testimony during the trial. Glamuzina and Laurie claim that much of Pauline's diaries have been sensationalized and mis-interpreted.
Pauline also had several other important friendships and relationships throughout her adolescence, most notably with the boarder 'Nicholas' and with a group of Ceylonese University students. Indeed, Glamuzina and Laurie emphasize that Pauline and Juliet both had many other friends and G? downplay the 'intense exclusivity' of their relationship, because that aspect was seized upon by the psychiatric profession as a symptom of the girls' 'madness.'
Pauline's school picture from October 1953 shows her to be a serious, rather short, dark-haired girl with an oval face and full, dark brows. At "seven stone" (98 lbs) she appears slim compared to her classmates and rather more sad than brooding, with arms held quite stiffly behind her and her face downcast. Her hair is dark and had been curled and pinned on either side of her head, a little untidily. All the girls around her have short hair styles, their hair just a little flyaway, so there was a slight breeze that day. Pauline's uniform is well-fitting, neat and pressed, her collar starched, and her tie is loosely but correctly knotted and placed. For some reason, my eye is drawn by the creases at the elbow of her white cotton shirt--they are sharp, as if the shirt were new and the day had been a little hot and sticky. The sun is not high and, coming as it does from the north-west, it says that the girls of Form IVA were photographed rather late in the afternoon, that October Spring day. The public would read much into the fact that all other girls in the photograph except Pauline were looking into the camera, and smiling.
At the urging of Dr Hulme, Honora Parker took her daughter to be examined by Dr Bennett in December 1953 and Pauline was apparently 'diagnosed' to be a homosexual. It isn't clear whether or not Pauline was informed of this diagnosis; according to her diary, it would appear that Honora Parker made vague references to the poor state of Pauline's health, and that her condition was the result of her association with Juliet Hulme. Honora at first threatened to separate Pauline from her friend and then she forbade Pauline from seeing Juliet over the summer holidays. It was during this time, when the two girls were separated, that the Hulme household went into convulsion with the arrival of Walter Perry. The crumbling of the Hulme household accelerated with the coming of the New Year and things reached a head in both homes around Easter, 1954.
When the Hulme family started disintegrating, Pauline became concerned and upset at first, according to her diary. Pauline had formed a close relationship with Hilda Hulme before this upheaval, or perhaps a close attachment would be a more correct description, according to her diaries. Pauline had apparently believed that Hilda and Henry Hulme would support her in her desire to leave her family for theirs. The Hulme family upheaval changed all that, and it seems that Pauline and Juliet came up with several alternative 'escape' schemes.
When the Hulme household started to crumble, Honora Parker was apparently pleased that the relationship between the girls would be broken up and she became very pleased when she learned that Dr Hulme was to leave the country, with Juliet, according to evidence presented during the trial. Around this time Honora removed her daughter from school and enrolled her at Digby's Commercial College. According to Glamuzina and Laurie, "Suggestions were made that she had fallen behind in her schoolwork [when she left the High School]. The school record shows no indication of this." This is also a very important point which needs to be clarified. Pauline Parker's diary records a tremendous rush of events and an increase in tension and friction through May and June, 1954, as the physical breakup of the Hulme's household drew closer. The time line is complicated. See 7.3.
Just 12 days before the Hulme household was due to disintegrate completely, Pauline Parker murdered her mother, with Juliet Hulme's assistance, on Tuesday June 22, 1954.
At first, both girls maintained that Honora Parker's death had been an accident, but Pauline confessed to the crime later that evening when she was interrogated, alone, at Ilam. See 7.5.6. She apparently planned to exonerate Juliet, hoping that Juliet would escape punishment. After making her brief, rather uninformative confession, Pauline Parker offered little more concrete information about the murder in the weeks and months ahead, or her reason for committing it, and she has kept her silence on these matters to this day. She admitted, during questioning, that she was aware of her crime and that it went against the moral standards of the community--sufficient evidence to find her legally sane.
During the arraignment and trial, pictures of Pauline show her to be slightly heavier-set than she was before Christmas, and a dowdy dresser in her 'civilian' clothes. In several pictures, it appears as if she had a bandage or some prosthetic device on her chin, although this was often retouched in newspaper accounts. The contrast between Juliet, who always appeared fashionably smart and well-tailored, and Pauline, who looked much older and more tired than her years, was striking in pictures from that time. Most of Pauline's pictures showed that she walked with her fists tightly clenched by her side.
After being convicted of the murder of her mother, Pauline was sentenced to indefinite incarceration, Pauline was removed to a Borstal (roughly equivalent to lower-security Juvenile Detention) near Wellington, Arohata Women's Reformatory, where she served out most of her sentence. This more lenient environment, compared to Mt Eden, was partly the result of lack of prison facilities in New Zealand and also because Pauline was viewed by the public, after the trial, to be slightly the dupe or victim of Juliet Hulme's intense persuasion. The public perceived the murder, for reasons best known to itself, to have been something of a 'thrill killing' in some respects, possibly at Juliet's instigation. There may have also been a little racism and English backlash involved in these sentiments, too. Pauline and Juliet were not allowed to communicate in any way or meet during their incarceration. It was reported that Pauline was extremely distraught by these circumstances in the early stages of her prison term.
Pauline Parker's relationship with her family members was extremely strained after the murder, as might be expected. Her father was not present at her conviction or sentencing and he made brief and bitter statements to the Press after the trial and upon his daughter's release from prison. Pauline was visited once by her father in prison and it would appear that this was their last contact. Pauline was moved to Christchurch Womens' Prison, Paparua before Juliet was moved to Arohata in the later stages of her incarceration. She was visited by other family and friends when she was moved back to Christchurch.
Early in her incarceration Pauline converted to Roman Catholicism and apparently became a devout Catholic. Pauline enrolled in courses in English, French, Latin, Mathematics, Drawing and Design and, later, Maori. She completed University Entrance and made considerable progress towards her Bachelor of Arts degree, eventually completing it soon after her release from prison.
In late 1959, Pauline Parker was furnished with a new identity and released on parole after Juliet Hulme had been released and had left the country. During her parole, Pauline was subject to controls in terms of her movements and her employment and she was closely monitored. Department of Justice officials noted their concern over Pauline's association with lesbians during her probation period, a good indication of the scrutiny under which she was placed. It also illustrates the type of official labelling, discrimination and repercussions mentioned previously in 3.1.11. Pauline Parker remained on parole until 1965. Apparently, upon her release from parole, Pauline Parker moved from New Zealand.
Stevan Eldred-Griggs (NZ social historian): "Pauline clearly longed to escape the shabbiness and domestic work of the boardinghouse her mother ran. She fantasized about Italian opera singers, literature, rising to the upper class--common enough escape fantasies."
Jackson deplored the media hunt for Pauline Parker. "It's horrible. It's not that these girls are Nazi war criminals." (Jackson frequently makes this comparison. It is actually a reference to Medlicott's article. See 7.8.1.) However, in early 1997, Pauline's new identity was finally discovered and revealed to the world by a journalist for the New Zealand Women's Weekly. For better or worse, her anonymity had finally ended. She is now running a children's riding school at Hoo, near Rochester, Kent, under the name of Hilary Nathan. For more information, see 7.9.5.