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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Death of John Hayhurst

In 1889 the sudden death of a wealthy South Canterbury station owner in suspicious circumstances that suggested arsenical poisoning started a thoroughgoing inquiry in the Temuka South district which finally ended without the cause of death being determined to everyone's satisfaction. The deceased was John Hayhurst, aged 62, the owner of two rich estates. He died suddenly on the eve of his departure on a trip to England. As Hayhurst had taken a prominent part in local affairs and in the development of the district, his inexplicable death created wide-spread public interest. A coroner's jury had returned a verdict of death from natural causes in accordance with medical testimony, but the police were not satisfied and the body was exhumed. There was evidence that members of the family had considered Hayhurst's life to be in danger and had urged him to slip away to England quietly without letting anyone know. Before he could do so he died. Conflicting medical testimony with regard to the presence of arsenic in the body complicated the position, and no firm conclusion was ever reached. The cause of death is still officially unknown as far as the police are concerned.