In the Bay of Islands, across the water from the bustling town of
Paihia and nestled under the hills is Russell. Formerly known as Kororareka, in the whaling days this calm haven used
to be known as "The Hell-hole of the Pacific". At the foundation of New Zealand as a colony, Russell was named
capital, before the title was moved to Auckland a year later. Today Russell is a quiet little town, home of New Zealand's
oldest surviving church, built in 1835, where settlers took refuge during the 1845 sacking of the town. Bullet holes were
left in the walls as a reminder of these times.
The Duke of Marlborough, the fourth hotel to be built on its waterfront site, holds the oldest liquor licence in
the country. The licence dates back to 1840 but there has been a hotel on the site since 1827. In the early days it
was patronized by sailors and whalers.
Pompallier House on the waterfront was built from rammed earth in 1839 by French Roman Catholic missionaries. It houses
a printing press and tannery, originally used to print bibles, that are still operational.
Russell Museum, although small, contains many local and maritime artifacts, including a one fifth scale model of Cook’s
On Maiki Hill behind Russell is a flagpole erected in the same position as the four that Hone Heke, the great Maori leader,
cut down in protest over the treatment of his people after the signing of the
Treaty of Waitangi.
Hone Heke was one of the first signatories of the treaty but became disillusioned when the crown did not live up to
his understanding of the document he signed.