Events 2014

Journey to a Hanging with Peter Wells

22 July 2014 - 5.30 for 6 pm

Peter Wells talks about his fascinating new book - part history, part biography, part social commentary - about infamous events that shook New Zealand to its core.

In 1865, Rev Carl Sylvius Volkner was hanged, his head cut off, his eyes eaten and his blood drunk from his church chalice. Kereopa Te Rau (Kaiwhatu: the eye-eater) was tried for his murder and sentenced to death. 

Despite two of the greatest minds in colonial New Zealand - Sister Aubert and William Colenso - coming to his defence, Kereopa Te Rau was hanged in Napier Prison. A century and a half later, these events have not been laid to rest.

First inspired by a photograph he found of Kereopa, Peter Wells has gone back and explored the story of the two hangings. As he explains: "This book, in a way, is all about the moment of that photograph.

"This is not a book about the justice or injustice of the hanging or the political events that led to his trial. Rather it is a voyage around the subject, an attempt to understand what led to the moment the camera clicked."

In a personal quest, he illuminates how we try to make sense of the past, how we heal, remember - and forget.

Join us at 5.30pm for a welcome glass of wine, courtesy of Glengarry Wines.



About the author

Peter Wells studied history at the University of Auckland and the University of Warwick, England. His short stories, novels, memoirs and biographies have won many awards and accolades.