‘Murder Will Out’: Intimacy, Violence, and the Snow Family in Early Colonial New Zealand

  • Kristyn Harman
Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)


The Snow family murders in Auckland in 1847 are still recalled as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most sensational crimes. In this chapter, the murder of the settler colonial family becomes a focal point through which the intimate, complex, and changing cross-cultural relationships between Māori and Pākehā in mid nineteenth-century Aotearoa New Zealand are explored. Revealing issues of class, race, politics, gender, and identity, the wider set of circumstances within which the Snow family was murdered speaks directly to the ambiguities of a frontier society at once both socioeconomically and physically intimate and yet inherently unstable and sometimes violent. This particularly brutal crime, which resulted in Auckland’s first public hanging, serves as a touchstone for the dark history of early colonial society. While present in histories of this event, until now Māori have largely served as side characters, tangential to the main story of the Snows, Burns, and Reardon. Specifically concentrating on Māori within the story, however, reorients the case to connect micro- and macro-relations within frontier Aotearoa New Zealand.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristyn Harman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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