Remuera death: One month later health chief Pauline Hanna’s death remains unexplained

A month after health chief Pauline Hanna was found dead in one of Auckland’s most affluent suburbs, mystery continues to surround the circumstances.

Pauline Hanna, 63, was found dead in her Remuera home on the morning of Easter Monday, April 5.

Her husband, Philip Polkinghorne, has previously told the Herald that he had been the one to find his wife dead. The couple had been married for nearly 30 years.

Polkinghorne, an Auckland eye specialist, spoke to the Herald a few days later, saying that he was being treated as a “person of suspect”.

“The loss is insurmountable. I just can’t think straight,” he said at the time.

“As you may or may not know, I am a person of suspect – so I need to talk to my legal counsel whether I should say or shouldn’t say anything.”

A month on, Hanna’s death continues to be treated as “unexplained”.

Polkinghorne has declined to comment since.

Police told the Herald this week: “Inquiries remain ongoing into Pauline Hanna’s sudden death. There’s no update of note at this time.”

The death sent shockwaves in the suburb of Remuera after police swarmed the family’s home early that Monday morning – a public holiday.

Police cordons went up and officers went door-to-door asking residents if they had seen anything of note in the last few hours leading up to the woman’s death.

Polkinghorne described his wife as an incredibly hard worker and a “magnificent woman” who worked hard for her community.

Hanna worked as a senior health manager, holding roles at the Counties Manukau District Health Board for the past 20 years.

She was working on the Covid response when she died.

Police remained at the Remuera property for more than a week after her death.

A former senior police detective said at the time the case “sounds like it’s going to be a homicide inquiry”.

“It sounds like it’s a homicide inquiry,” former police detective Lance Burdett told the Herald.

“If it’s going on for any length of time they would be leaning towards suspicious [death] rather than unexplained.

“If forensics are there every day it is … possibly suspicious, and more likely probable.”

A homicide inquiry does not necessarily mean a murder, Burdett said, but it means someone else may have been involved.

Police will be using this time to first find out how Hanna died, why and then who is involved, he said.

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