Topic: The Not so Good, Good Old Days

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Police Gazette 1911, Tauranga Heritage Collection 

The 1911 New Zealand Police Gazette in the Tauranga Heritage Collection gives a fascinating glimpse into the not so good, good old days.

The monthly publication distributed to the 788 strong police force at stations throughout the country was a vital tool in the fight against crime. Amongst other things it contained information on ‘Persons Wanted’, ‘Apprehensions’, ‘Property Stolen & Recovered’, ‘Deserters & Missing’ and even included ‘Photographs of Discharged Prisoners’. Mug shots first appeared in the Gazette in 1904 and were taken by police officers who owned a camera and had some knowledge of photography. 

While much of the crime listed is sadly all too familiar and includes, theft, assault, abduction, drunkenness, rape and murder there are a number of surprising offences. Some of the more unusual include, ‘fortune-telling’, ‘damaging a police uniform’, ‘disturbing congregations’, ‘furious riding’, ‘permitting stallion to serve mare in a public place’ and ‘stone-throwing’ (for the year of 1910, one woman and 55 men were convicted of this offence).

Fortunately for local residents crimes committed and tried in Tauranga feature infrequently. In June 1911 a hairdresser was sought for stealing £14 from his business partner. He was described as a ‘native of Australia, slim build, pale complexion, fair hair, noticeable cast in one eye, upper set of artificial teeth, clean-shaved; dressed in dark suit and black hard hat’.

In August several prisoners convicted in Tauranga’s Magistrate Court were released including a fireman convicted to two months prison for obscene language and a cook and a labourer who both spent a month in prison for idle and disorderly behaviour.  Interestingly in all cases the individuals are recorded as ‘Natives of Australia’.

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