Shane* stands on his deck, surveying his yard from above, pointing out the just-planted tomato vines ("we chucked those in for the rest of the season"), the raging sunflowers ("they're good this year for some reason"), the lilies, the roses, the beautiful king palms and the bromeliads.

"My father-in-law, he loves pottering in the garden," says Shane.

"We all chip in. It's quite hard to keep it up [because] it's like a jungle. We've done a couple of big trips to the dump tidying it all up."

The property is deceptively large. Street-facing, a large tree Shane struggles to name casts a bleak pall but a veranda at the back is a sun worshipper's stage and the massive garden borders on tropical.

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"I love them but they're just a bit scary on a windy night — wondering if they're gonna fall on the house. It would cost a fortune to get an arborist in," says Shane.

"We were really surprised when we came to look at the place.

"I mean, we knew. We knew it was the house but, we're not really that superstitious and thought we'd give it a go." He says "the house" with emphasis.

Today, the tidy two-storey weatherboard home in Te Atatu, Auckland, is replete with kids' toys, flowers and sunshine. New grey carpet and freshly painted white walls emit that new smell.

On October 15, 2016, it was the scene of a killing immortalised as the "pamper party murder".

A crowd of women gathered on a Saturday afternoon to be done up by a beautician. There was alcohol, and a fight. It ended with Anna Browne making a beeline for the kitchen before quietly, innocuously, returning to the lounge.

While Carly Stewart watched others having their nails done amid guacamole and bottles of liquor, Browne plunged the carving knife into Stewart's face. The melee was detailed at Browne's sentencing for murder in August last year.

By that time Shane, his partner, her father and their three children had been living at the murder scene for eight months. Sitting in the same lounge, they exchanged looks during that night's news bulletin.

Anna Browne was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Carly Stewart. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Anna Browne was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Carly Stewart. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"That was pretty shocking actually. A little bit jaw-dropping. I had no idea ... how bad it was. We didn't really wanna think about it. "It was a strange story line, though ... a party of chicks who got too drunk. Bloody hell. Imagine waking up after doing that."

How well do we know the stories that have played out within the walls of our homes? Every house has a history and according to police figures, dozens every year will be the scene of a homicide.

The majority of murders happen in private homes — as many as 62 in 2009, and 36 in 2014.

Perhaps our most famous are the Bassett Rd machine gun murders of Frederick Walker and Kevin Speight in December 1963.

The Remuera weatherboard cottage where the men were killed is on the tourist map and long-time resident Annick Larkin says the attention is annoying, but laughs off suggestions of ghosts.

Tales of suffering in buildings has prompted centuries of haunted house fables. The reality, however, is not blockbuster-worthy and borders on the mundane. At Shane's house, there are no bumps in the night, no funny stains on the walls or ghostly apparitions. His family didn't think twice about moving in, he says.

They knew the home's history when they saw it in its tropical splendour on Trade Me. They lived around the corner.

"It was the place with the big tree. We thought, 'We'll go have a look.' It's a beautiful house, and the rent works out exactly the same with [my] father-in-law downstairs.

"He pays his $200 a week and with that we ended up scoring a house that isn't all damp and old, like the crap one up the road, and we've got an extra bedroom," he says.

Hundreds of kilometres away in the Waikato, a brick and tile family home is also surrounded by plants and fruit trees. Tucked away on a bend, barricaded by two gates, it's easy to miss.

Compared with black and white photos taken of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe's home in 1970, they could be two different places. The husband and wife were killed in June that year, their shot bodies later discovered in the Waikato river. Jeanette's father, Len Demler, found their 18-month-old daughter, Rochelle, alive in the blood-spattered home after five days.

Local Arthur Allan Thomas was twice found guilty of the killings before being pardoned after nine years in jail.

Then, the remote rural property sat on practically bare land with a simple white fence. It was against this fence police planted a rifle cartridge to frame Thomas. The killer or killers have never been identified, neither has the mystery woman seen at the property in the days after, who is believed to have fed Rochelle.

The distinctive chimney and green roof are the only hints that the enduring mystery began here.

It doesn't live there, though, the tenant insists. She has been there eight years with her husband and children, and doesn't care about its history. "We all have to die somewhere," she says.

She says when her native Russia was besieged in World War II the dead fell in city centres but people moved on. They had to.

The only thing that worries her is pervasive burglars. She joined Neighbourhood Watch. Two years ago, when she was momentarily keen to move back to her homeland, the house went up for sale.

The ad didn't give a hint of the history, but waxed lyrical about the home's two boilers, underfloor heating and open plan kitchen and dining area. A spa has been installed, and a large deck. It's pretty and serene — and its longtime resident loves it, but not the attention.

The former house of Jeanette and Harvey Crewe was listed for sale in 2014. Photo / Supplied
The former house of Jeanette and Harvey Crewe was listed for sale in 2014. Photo / Supplied

Ray White real estate agent Ray Ingram says it wasn't the first time he'd sold a property where a murder happened, but the old farmhouse was particularly famous. "I do recall being surprised that a number of people wanted to buy it."

Equally as nonchalant are a couple who lived at Ponga Rd in Opaheke, south Auckland, until recently. They're ex-emergency services. They've seen dead bodies, they proffer. They had no qualms about living in a house where two people were shot dead.

In August 2013, Glenys Stanton was visiting boyfriend Trevor Waite at his rental property when they were both gunned down through the glass bedroom door by her former flame, John Mowatt.

Trevor Waite and Glenys Stanton both had been shot in this property. Photo / Greg Bowker
Trevor Waite and Glenys Stanton both had been shot in this property. Photo / Greg Bowker

The house is on the corner of two roads and sits above a pond. There are lots of trees and long grass, and in the cold and wet Mowatt must have waded through mud up the hill toward the house, the couple hypothesise.

The Coroner's 2015 findings disturbed them. The planning. The shower of bullets.
Horrifying, they say. There are tiny clues around the home about what happened there. There are badly patched bullet holes in the walls. The curtains in the main bedroom are different to the rest of the house. The en suite door is off kilter. And they found police fingerprint dust in a cupboard.

"The horrific thing is what happened to them (not the house), but for us we can rationalise it," she says.

The pair asked not to be named. They are property investors and believe they rented it for a steal. "The property is tainted because of that one incident which was probably 10 minutes long," he says.

A while ago their dog went walkabout and turned up at the neighbours. Retrieving the pooch, the neighbour admitted to them she hadn't returned the dog because: "We don't want to associate with that house any more."

The couple don't understand the stigma — people die on roads daily. They die peacefully in their homes. They die in public. We don't tiptoe around those spots, why should houses be different?

Life does go on. The Christchurch "house of horrors" where Jason Somerville buried his murder victims, Tisha Lowry and Rebecca Chamberlain, under his floorboards in 2008 and 2009 is now a children's park.

In Auckland, restaurateur Chris Rupe opened a bistro at an old post office and named it after its slain postman Augustus Braithwaite.

Although not the murder site — Braithwaite was killed in his home doors down — killer Dennis Gunn made off with the postshop keys, and ransacked it in 1920.

Rupe says he would not have taken over the lease if the murder had been in the shop. He doesn't like to use the word cursed but admits he's superstitious.

Family and friends of the victims console each other after the memorial service held at the Mt Wellington Panmure RSA. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Family and friends of the victims console each other after the memorial service held at the Mt Wellington Panmure RSA. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Likewise, in the east Auckland suburb of Panmure, the former Mount Wellington Panmure RSA that was the site of William Bell's triple slaying and attempted murder of Susan Couch is now Bhakti Centre, a hare krishna temple, restaurant and function centre.

On December 8, 2001, Bell, a disgruntled former worker, walked into the RSA with a shotgun and beat his three victims to death, and shot one. Couch was critically injured.
Staff at the centre say they performed their own prayers and blessings of the building before moving in.

The place has been transformed almost beyond recognition. Incense and candles burn, chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and lights are bright. It's a place for celebrations.

Five years ago the RSA moved to the Panmure town centre after membership halved and patrons were put off the old building.

And yet, few would be more haunted than former vice president Alan Eastwood, who found the bodies of his friends Bill Absolum, Mary Hobson and Wayne Johnson, and says it never crossed his mind to avoid the association and its building.

The former Mount Wellington Panmure RSA where William Bell committed a triple homicide has been turned into Bhakti Centre. Photo / Kelly Dennett
The former Mount Wellington Panmure RSA where William Bell committed a triple homicide has been turned into Bhakti Centre. Photo / Kelly Dennett

A ceremony was held to lift the tapu and the rooms were blessed, which Eastwood said lifted the tension. "Immediately, we had to start thinking about the safety and welfare of the staff and put them at ease. You live with it."

Energy healer Suzanne Evans gives 100 home "clearings" a year and says one-off minutes long episodes of violence shouldn't affect a home's energy.

She has never been to a "murder home" but is routinely asked to clear negative energy from a house that has seen a lot of domestic violence.

Often she sees "nightmare children" — kids who aren't sleeping because of night terrors; unhappy people living in homes that belonged to their parents or grandparents; or houses with historically bad energy, a grumpy previous tenant for example.

"People find their health doesn't feel right and they'll me ring me up and say, 'I don't know what it is, but there are rooms in my house that don't feel right to me and the kids object to sleeping in a certain room'," Evans says.

Helen Curry, who is now the tenant in the flat on Ward Street, Upper Hutt, where Lois Tolley was murdered. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Helen Curry, who is now the tenant in the flat on Ward Street, Upper Hutt, where Lois Tolley was murdered. Photo / Mark Mitchell

This year Lower Hutt woman Helen Curry moved into a brick unit with a blue door, only learning afterward the home had been 30-year-old Lois Tolley's haven, before her door was kicked in and she was shot and stabbed in December 2016.

Curry previously told the Herald she wasn't told about the home's history but was comfortable living there, as the home had been blessed.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Bindi Norwell said a code of practice governs what agents should disclose to prospective buyers of a house with history, and agents are advised to be sensitive and use common sense, but are ultimately bound by what the vendor wants to disclose.

"The disclosure of sensitive issues are relevant to the particular circumstances of the event such as how long ago the event occurred, whether the event has a degree of notoriety, the likely reaction of purchasers and the potential impact on price," she said.

If an agent thinks a disclosure should be made but the vendor disagrees the agent should step aside, according to the guidelines.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act there is no legal obligation for landlords to disclose a home's history and Tenancy Services recommends renters outright ask landlords for disclosure of anything that might influence their decision to rent the home.

If disclosure isn't made at that point, and the tenant finds out disturbing information later, they could make a case to the Tenancy Tribunal, a spokesperson said.

Fire ripped through the Te Atatu house not long after Carly Stewart's murder.

The fire investigator's report says fireworks were let off in the lounge, the bedroom, and the kitchen.

After Carly Stewart's murder fireworks were set off inside the empty home. Photo / Supplied
After Carly Stewart's murder fireworks were set off inside the empty home. Photo / Supplied

The house was empty and undergoing renovation.

The investigator concluded the fire was deliberately lit but no arrests have been made.

A neighbour told Shane squatters used to come and drink on the deck. It has become one of "those" houses. One passersby gawk at.

One day he was playing with his 2-year-old in the lounge and happened to look out the window. A line of cars stuck in traffic, drivers' eyes glued to his activity. He put nets in the windows after that.

Their eldest child is about to start high school and Shane reckons he's cool with the history.

"He's old enough to know but he doesn't care. They haven't got teased at school or anything. No one has given them any grief.

"We didn't really say it was a grisly murder," Shane says.

"We just said someone died here. Outside."

* Some names have been changed or withheld to protect the privacy of the home's residents