Story: Violent crime

Burgess gang killing

These sketches illustrate key events in the robbery and murder of five men by the Burgess gang on the Maungatapu Track near Nelson on 12 and 13 June 1866. The men were killed one by one, by different members of the gang. The first to die was James Battle, who passed the gang on the track and was killed to prevent him witnessing a planned robbery. The gang knew that Felix Mathieu, John Kempthorne and James de Pontius were carrying gold and cash on their journey from Canvas Town, near Picton, to the West Coast. The first sketch shows Kempthorne being shot in the back by Richard Burgess. The second sketch recreates the division of the stolen cash and gold dust (worth about $30,000 in 2010 terms) among the gang members.

About this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: F-315-35mm-E

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Greg Newbold, 'Violent crime - Mass murders, 1840–1989', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/zoomify/26503/burgess-gang-killing (accessed 28 April 2017)

Story by Greg Newbold, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Aug 2015