Reg Piesse - Oct 1983 - Suicide

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Reg Piesse - Oct 1983 - Suicide

Post by Admin » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:42 pm

Publication not known - but the article refers to "The Truth", and it is dated (in handwriting) 11/1/1984. Using the English method rather than the American style, this would mean 11th January 1984. The by-line indicates that the report was written by Russell Anderson.


Exclusive Brethren sect member Reginald George Piesse gassed himself to death last October.

In broad daylight, Mr Piesse, 64, put a bag over his head and inhaled deadly exhaust fumes from his car, parked with the engine running in the driveway of his tidy home at 229 Cranford Street, Christchurch.

At an inquest last month into Mr Piesse's death, little mention, if any, was made of his involvement with the Exclusive Brethren.

Police say they are not aware of any note left by Mr Piesse.


And no indication has been given that Mr Piesse might have been troubled by anything.

No light has been thrown as to why, on October 14 last year, he waited until his wife had gone out before he took his own life.

But now Mr Priesse's son, Anthony, wants to know why his father died.

"I want to know the circumstances surrounding my father's suicide." Anthony Piesse told Truth from Palmerston North.

Anthony - who, with his brother Craig and a sister, left the Exclusive Brethren some years ago - said he knew of no reason why his father should kill himself.

"You know how difficult it is to get any information from the Brethren." he said.


"My father had a nervous breakdown about two-and-a-half years ago.

"I had some difficulty finding out about the funeral arrangements.

"I went to the cemetery but kept away from my mother and relatives with the Brethren.

"It would have caused trouble if I had approached my family.


"Since I've been out of the Brethren for the last 13 years, contact with my mother and father has been almost non-existent." said Mr Piesse.

"I didn't really know what had happened to my father until after the inquest. They (the Brethren) didn't tell me. It came as a shock to find out."


Former Exclusive Brethren members who knew Mr Piesse told Truth he was an outgoing, friendly man who was good to get on with.

One former sect member described him as "the last man you would expect to commit suicide."


Alongside, however, is a typewritten note with handwriting at the top which indicates this is probably a page (275) from a scrap-book. Then, again in handwriting: "R G Piesse's Suicide!"

(1) Re : suicides.
In the last few years there have been no less than eight officially recorded Sect suicides or apparant suicides in N.Z., and copies of eight separate Coroner's Inquest finding and relevant depositions and sworn affadavits are in my possession. They concern:-

George Alfred WICHERLEY - Farmer - Dargaville.
Norman Robert TINDALL - retired Carpenter - OTAHUHU.
Edward Louis RENTON - retired Dentist - Hamilton
Edward Arthur McGAVESTON - retired Farmer - Notueka.
Donald McKechnie CURRIE - Pensioner - Hastings.
Colin McLean SMITH - retired Engineer - Nelson.
Beven Alfred MALCOLM - Merchant - Timaru.
Reginald George PIESSE - retired - Christchurch.

Then the final signature of some hand-writing suggesting the author was one A.B.Townshend.

[I have maintained the punctuation and spelling exactly as it was. If there are any other spelling errors, they are mine and mine alone. I will be happy to edit the post if such discrepancies are reported to me]
A couple of points:
1. Reference to "The Truth" would be the name of a newspaper of the time, that specialised in publishing anything sensational or controversial; and is likely to be where this story was published.
2. Mr Arthur B Townshend and family moved to NZ from South Africa probably in the late 1950s, and on first arrival they stayed in our home at Wellington (I was in my teens). He eventually parted company with EB over (I think) the "eating matter", and thereafter I lost track of him until after I was out myself in the early 1980s. He had by then become deeply concerned by the suicide trend among the EB, and showed me his extensive file of newspaper clippings, copies of official reports, and various affidavits, which he was using to try and get action taken by someone in authority (he had been canvassing the Police, and MPs, without much success). The list quoted above would be his own record of what he had, and although I didn't keep details myself, I would confirm the reliability of the information and the names given. (He died some years ago, but I have no idea if his dossier survives anywhere.)
Well, as that page of his dossier clearly exists, I find the idea that there may be other pages available to be a very exciting prospect!
Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database
Result Detail

Surname: Piesse
First name(s): Reginald George
Date of death: Friday, 14 October 1983
Cemetery: Ruru Lawn Cemetery
Date of burial: Monday, 17 October 1983
Block number: 56
Plot number: 166
Age: 64 years
Address: [For privacy reasons this address is not displayed]
Occupation: Retired Furniture Maker
Place of birth: Gisborne, NZ
Years in New Zealand: 64

This important addition adjusts the year from 1984 to 1983. Thank you to you all for helping us get this right - it truly is essential if we are holding up information of this nature.
Think outside of the box, create your own path in life. “You laugh at me because I am different; I laugh because you are all the same.”
~ Daniel Knode

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