As Mark Lundy is found guilty for the second time of murdering his family, Steve Braunias looks at their life behind closed doors.

We know more about their deaths - the violence of it, the executioner swinging some sort of axe in the dark bedroom - than their lives. But we know and remember their names. Christine and Amber Lundy have been given the same kind of wretchedly sad immortality as Ben and Olivia, Sophie Elliott, the Crewes, the Bains.

Once upon a time they walked to school together. It took three blocks from their home at number 30 Karamea to the end of the street, then around the corner and over the railway line to Roslyn Primary School - the same familiar journey, the same deep happiness of mother and child together. They last walked it on a Tuesday morning in winter.

Mark Lundy with his wife and daughter, Christine and Amber. Photo / Supplied
Mark Lundy with his wife and daughter, Christine and Amber. Photo / Supplied

The flatlands of cold, rivery Manawatu, the edge of town in Palmerston North. "They lived in a modest little home," as Crown prosecutor Philip Morgan described it, "in a blue-collar suburb."

The letterbox and windowsills had green trim. There was a set of swings and a tramp in the front yard, a trailer parked out the back.


Amber was 7. She was born on July 9, 1993, at 1.25am, by emergency Caesarian after Christine was in labour for 20 hours. Everyone said that her parents adored her; no one needed to point out she adored them. Mark Lundy told police, "She used to put on little concerts for us. We would be watching TV and she would appear in a pair of plastic shoes, and dressed up with a little feather boa around her neck, and do a little dance."

She enrolled at Rocket dance studios when she was 3. Christine took her there on Tuesday after school. She wore her favourite outfit - a pink and orange leotard with blue tights - and Christine waited in the same seat where she always sat. There was a show coming up, and the girls tried on their costumes.

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The class lasted an hour. When it finished, Christine drove her to Pippins. Amber was third-generation in her family to go Guiding; her grandmother, Christine's mother Helen Weggery, was active in the movement in Tokomaru, and Christine, too, had gone through Guides, and met her husband at the 1978 Gang Show. "Fantastic dancer," he said of her. They were engaged at Easter 1982, and married in May the next year.

There was $11.19 in change in the kitchen, and a collection of 83 bottles of wine. Mark and Christine belonged to the Manawatu and Bacchus Wine Clubs, but she didn't drink much. She liked the company. They were a popular couple. They had the Durhams, Stewart and Caroline, over for a barbecue the previous Saturday night; they played cards, and stayed till midnight.

Mark Lundy's favourite author was Wilbur Smith, Christine was an avid reader of Mills & Boon. Her habit was to read in the conservatory with her lunch. She also read New Idea and Woman's Day, sometimes the Australian Women's Weekly. The TV shows she enjoyed most were reality shows Changing Rooms and Taste New Zealand, and medical soaps Providence and Shortland Street. In the first trial, in 2002, the police said that the murders occurred at about 7pm, when Christine was in bed. The defence argued that she never missed an episode of Shortland Street.

When she walked back to the house after taking Amber to school on Tuesday morning, Christine and Mark drove in separate cars to Lighting Direct. She wanted a lampshade for the spare bedroom. She chose something in blue. Mark had to drive to Petone, on a business trip; they kissed goodbye in the store.

Last kiss, last walk to school, last supper at 5.43pm when Christine and Amber ordered McDonald's. Pippins had been cancelled.


They ordered nine chicken nuggets, a chicken burger, a fillet of fish burger, medium fries, and two apple pies.

The family were big people. Christine weighed 112kg, Amber 45kg. A verbose pathologist said at the trial, fairly unnecessarily, "They had a body mass of 44 and 31, which you would say is obese."

Christine didn't cook. Her friends conceded she wasn't the tidiest person in the world, either.

But she was brilliantly organised. She was the brains behind her husband's kitchen-sink business, and worked on the accounts until late at night. Afterwards, she'd play Patience and Solitaire on the computer to wind down.

She turned off the PC at 10.52pm that Tuesday.

Amber fell asleep at about 8pm. She always put on her pyjamas just after 7pm, was always in bed by 7.30pm. "She was the easiest child to babysit," Helen Weggery told police. Sometimes her parents read her a bedtime story, sometimes she read it to them.


She slept with a soft toy of Rollie, a jowly dog who featured on TV commercials for toilet paper.

The dance lessons and swimming lessons, Pippins, friends, school, family - she loved her life. It was safe. Her mum and dad looked after her.

She spoke to her father for the last time on Tuesday night, when she asked him over the phone whether it was okay to have McDonald's for dinner.

"Of course," he told her. The exchange was read out in court. A smile touched Lundy's face, the memory reaching back to him after 15 years of a little girl saying, "Please, dad?"

After she put Amber to bed, Christine worked on her brother's GST accounts. Glenn Weggery had called around that morning to see if she'd finished.

He called around the previous morning, too, and then on Wednesday morning, when the curtains were still closed.


Mark Lundy appeared on the witness stand at his trial in 2002, when he was first found guilty of murdering his wife and child, and was asked, "What do you miss most about Amber?"

"Everything," said her father, who will be known and remembered for the rest of his days as her murderer.

Read Steve Braunias' full coverage of the Mark Lundy re-trial here:
February 10: The evidence, and the defence
February 11: Defence heat on Lundy's brother-in-law
February 14: Small details build picture of suburban tragedy
February 17: Trial turns to money matters
February 18: Numbers rule court on day seven
February 21: Two scenarios of fateful night laid out for Lundy jury
March 3: Police video silent and terrifying
March 4: Lundy's polo shirt: The forensic evidence
March 5: Digging into the details
March 7: Ghosts haunt the courtroom
March 17: Dr Pang's long day in court
March 18: Shirt centre stage
March 19: Lundy confessed to me - prisoner
March 21: The night they died
March 28: Lundy's last chance
March 31: Superb summation in Lundy case