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Murder Most Foul #3 in a series – David Wayne TAMIHERE- Murderer / Rapist / Robber?

Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen

Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NOTE: This is an opinion only and not a judgement piece, it is my opinion only from what I read, saw and took to understand from that.


Just after I arrived in NZ there was quite a sensational murder mystery that unfolded. The “Swedish Backpacker Murders” And the Starring role was taken by one David Wayne Tamihere. Today I was reading an “exclusive” article in Metro Magazine, adn so it’s time I got my thoughts together on this. For me.

David TAMIHERE was convicted of the 1972 Murder/Manslaughter  of Mary Barcham, 23 (stripper),  by Hitting her on the head with a rifle.

Also assaulted a 62 year old woman in her home in 1985.
Also has some other sexual assault and assault convictions on record,  including a conviction for assaulting another woman in her home in the 1980s

And so to the 1989 conviction of Murder of Sven Urban Höglin, 23, and his fiancée Heidi Birgitta Paakkonen, 21, both from, Sweden, travelling in NZ as  tourists. For which he was  sentenced to life imprisonment with a 10-year non-parole period in December 1990.

The body of Heidi Birgitta Paakkonen remains missing at this time.

Some of the background;

On 8 April 1989, backpacking tourists Höglin and Paakkonen from Storfors, Sweden went into the bush near Thames. They vanished and were reported missing in May.

The disappearance led to an intense police investigation under the name Operation Stockholm, and attracted substantial media interest. Police, local residents, search and rescue and military personnel carried out the largest land-based search undertaken in New Zealand, performing grid-searches centred on Crosbie’s Clearing, 12 km from Thames.

Tamihere, a fugitive for skipping bail for a 1986 rape, admitted stealing the Subaru car belonging to the couple. There was only one known key to the car that was found in the possession of David Tamihere, and he claims to have broken into the car with a bit of #8 wire and found the key in the glovebox.  It would seem that there are 3 “experts” who were unable to replicate the feat of getting into the car with the same method.

He was arrested, and tried for their murder starting in October 1990. At the trial three witnesses (fellow inmates of Tamihere’s, granted name suppression by the court) gave evidence that Tamihere had confessed the murder to them.

Two trampers also identified Tamihere as a man they saw with a woman believed to be Paakkonen in a remote clearing. The court also heard Tamihere tied Höglin to a tree and sexually abused him before raping Paakkonen.


In October 1991, ten months after the conviction, pig hunters discovered the body of Höglin near Whangamata; Paakkonen’s body has never been found. Höglin’s body was recovered 73 km from where police alleged the murders took place.

With the body was a watch which police claimed at his trial Tamihere had given to his son following the murders. Discovery of the body also contradicted the testimony of a (Secret) prosecution witness who said Tamihere had confessed to cutting up the bodies and throwing them into the ocean.

I understand from reading an article in Metro Magazine  that in prison David Tamihere told various stories and variations on a theme to various people in an effort to cath outr anyone who “ratted on him”.

In the book Hard Cases, the theory Tamihere did not act alone is forwarded, on the basis that as there were no defensive cuts to the bones of his hands, Höglin may have been held from behind while being stabbed from the front.

Most bizarrely is this contention:

Documents obtained from the estate of a deceased Investigate reader have thrown new light on a 23 year old cold case – the disappearance of Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen.

The couple disappeared in April 1989 on the Coromandel peninsula, and David Wayne Tamihere was arrested soon after on suspicion of their murders. The body of Urban Hoglin was subsequently found by pig-hunters at the foot of a bluff in the Coromandel ranges in 1991, but Heidi’s body has never been found.

For years it has been presumed Heidi Paakkonen is also buried somewhere in the Coromandel bush, but the documents passed to Investigate suggest that is not the case – she was last seen alive north of Auckland.

The story begins on Kawau Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, and a Christian couple’s suspicions in the mid 1980s that a local criminal with drug and organised crime connections had constructed a house complete with a large underground facility. The couple, who’d accidentally discovered the facility while visiting the property on business, felt the complex could have been used to hold people against their will, and because of its remote position primary access to the outside world was via the sea and a private jetty.

Well yes of course, secret underground lair.  Having said that undoubtedly the Police did botch up parts of the case. But I would be very surprised if David Tamihere was not responsible for the killings or has other knowledge that for reasons unknown he hasn’t or will not share.

David Wayne TAMIHERE Released on parole on November 15, 2010, currently denies involvement in these murders. Current a cause célèbre with Metro Magazine and some other media outlets.

Updated : October 2017

The jailhouse informer who gave false evidence at David Tamihere’s 1990 double murder trial has been jailed for lying under oath, but will keep his name suppression for now.

However a judge has ruled the man can be named once he has exhausted his options for appeal at the Court of Appeal.

“Witness C” was sentenced to eight years and seven months in prison for eight counts of perjury at the High Court in Auckland on Wednesday morning..

Tamihere’s lawyer, Murray Gibson, said he would approach the new Prime Minister and ask her to follow the same process Rob Muldoon did in the Arthur Alan Thomas case.

Mr Gibson described today’s sentencing of Witness C as another brick in the wall of evidence against his client that is slowly being dismantled.

Witness C told Tamihere’s trial that Tamihere had made a number of confessions to him, including that he had sexually abused the Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Hoglin and that he had dumped their bodies at sea.

Updated : April 2018

At this point it’s all unravelling;


Updated : April 2020

David Tamihere’s backpacker murder convictions will be heard by Court of Appeal again


David Tamihere’s double-murder case is heading back to the Court of Appeal, Justice Minister Andrew Little says.

It follows acceptance by the Governor General of advice from Little last year on a Royal Prerogative of Mercy application made by Tamihere.

Tamihere spent nearly 20 years in prison after being found guilty in 1990 of murdering Swedish backpackers Urban Hoglin, 23, and Heidi Paakkonen, 21, in the Coromandel.

He has always professed his innocence.


This is an opinion only and not a judgement piece, my opinion only that I’d like to be balanced and fair.



1989: Paakkonen and Hoglin disappear on the Coromandel Peninsula

1990: Tamihere is convicted of murdering the Swedish travellers and sentenced to life imprisonment

1991: Hoglin’s remains are found near Whangamata

1992: The Court of Appeal rejects Tamihere’s appeal

1994: Tamihere denied leave to appeal to the Privy Council

1995: Witness C swears an affidavit retracting his evidence

1996: Witness C retracts his retraction

2010: Tamihere is released on parole

2016: A private prosecution alleges Witness C lied at Tamihere’s trial

2017: Witness C is sentenced after being found guilty of perjury and not guilty of perverting the course of justice

2017: Witness C appeals the perjury convictions and sentence and fights to keep his identity hidden

2018: Witness C drops his appeal against the perjury convictions and is later revealed as Roberto Conchie Harris

2018: The High Court revokes Witness B’s suppression order

2020: Justice Minister Andrew Little announces David Tamihere’s case is heading back to the Court of Appeal after a Royal Prerogative of Mercy application



4 comments on “Murder Most Foul #3 in a series – David Wayne TAMIHERE- Murderer / Rapist / Robber?

  1. Dave
    December 22, 2016

    You might like to know that the two men that found Urban Hoglin’s body were both harassed & intimidated by NZ Police & neither ended up appearing at the inquest that was held. One is my brother, and we were visited by a senior detective from the Auckland CIB, who told my bro what the Police wanted him to say at the inquest… well it was a pack of lies, so my bro said to the cop “if I go to your inquest i will tell the truth & nothing but the truth”… the cop said “well i suggest you don’t go to the inquest then!”. My bro didn’t go and neither did his friend who had been raided by armed cops & threatened previously, & nobody – not even Tamihere’s high powered lawyer/politician brother who was supposedly representing him – asked why not!!! And the inquest went on without the two witnesses & was a complete farce, as was the appeal to the Privy Council, which was overturned. Why??? Whoever they are covering for certainly is very important or has powerful connections!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Greg Shaw
    March 16, 2017

    Can you outline the “real facts” then, as you can recall. I am sure a lot of people would like to hear your brother’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave
    May 15, 2018

    Greg Shaw – Sorry only just saw your comment. It’s too complicated to go into here, but as has become apparent after the revelations about secret jailhouse witnesses who lied, it is now obvious Tamihere was ‘fitted up’, which is what we knew all along. I have asked my brother to tell his story, but like many Kiwis, he feels too intimidated by the ‘system’ & simply doesn’t want to get into it again. I too am reluctant to say too much because of possible repercussions, but personally I believe drugs were involved, as I believe they have been in many of NZ’s unsolved murders & other violent crimes. There was a big pro dope patch very near to where Urban was found… it was deserted when they found him, but the cops went on & on at them & in my bros words “seemed more interested in what we knew about that, than in the body…” Years later a Whangamata local told me they believed a guy who lived nearby did it… he closely resembles Tamihere, was a known dope grower & disappeared to Aussie soon after, not returning until 10 years later. I’ve always believed there were at least 2 possibly 3 men involved in killing Urban, my theory for a long time was that Tamihere was an accomplice. I also believed they had then raped Heidi & killed her, dumping her body further up the valley. She was seen twice in the Whangamata area with a man fitting Tamihere’s description, after the Police had reported them missing, but both witnesses were turned away when they tried to report these sightings! This suggests she may still have been alive after Urban was killed. One of these ladies then followed the whole case very closely & formed a group who did their own investigation. She has a very interesting dossier on the whole thing, including the Police files & many statements from local people who were dis-included from the Police investigation for various reasons. The Police also got psychics involved & later a psychic group she belonged to also had some very interesting experiences when following up on this angle. Actually one fellow stunned us all by announcing we all had it wrong & that Heidi’s rich Swedish industrialist ex-fiancee had had Urban murdered & her smuggled out of the country! We all thought he was mad, but in the light of Wishart’s revelation of the Kawau Island story, he may have even been right! Either way, it’s been a very big cover-up involving an awful lot of people whom we are supposed to be able to trust! In the end it’s even taken a fellow criminal to prosecute the perjurer & despite him being found guilty & thereby taking away the last shred of credibility for the Police & Justice system, there is still deafening silence from the public & media alike… they are all too scared to push the issue, just as we are!


  4. Dave
    May 15, 2018

    And thank you Philip for taking an interest in & following up on this story.


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