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The day Chicago came to Auckland in 1963 – the Bassett Rd machine gun murders…

The bullet-ridden bodies of Frederick George Walker and Kevin James Speight were found in a house on Bassett Rd in Remuera, Auckland. A team of 32 detectives began an immediate search that led to the arrest of Ron Jorgensen and John Gillies. more…

Presented by Peter Petterson

While the New Zealand public were shocked at this extremely violent crime committed by criminals armed with machine guns, as a young man in both Dunedin and then Auckland from 1964-66, I became aware of an organised crime scene perpetrated by New Zealand’s illegal drinking trade caused by the inane 6pm closing swill, that had been around since 1917 in World War 1 – ‘sly-grogging’, the illegal after hours trade. This was evident throughout NZ, in the main centres and in particularly Dunedin where the proceeds of burglaries also found their way through the hotels involved in the illegal after-hours trade. I would imagine that Auckland was no different. In Dunedin I would have met some of these criminals unknowingly on a casual basis. The local boxing fraternity had some dubious connections. In these earlier days there wasn’t much socialising apart from private parties. As a young man I enjoyed having a few drinks in the evenings The hotels that illegally allowed after-hours drinking and ‘sly-grogging’ provided a social service. Auckland wasn’t a particularly friendly environment in comparison to Dunedin, and even Christchurch in the 1960’s. As a consequence I kept away from after-hours drinking in Auckland, and concentrated more on private parties.

By the time I came down to Wellington the drinking laws had been amended to a more civilized 10-30pm closing in 1967. Licenced clubs also provided alternatives to hotels then.


Published by peter petterson

Father of four, grandfather of thirteen, and great-grandfather of eight. Resides in Taita, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. Living happily in retirement and enjoying the company of my many young descendants.

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