Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Northland: Russell

The first permanent European settlement and sea port in New Zealand was in the Bay of Islands.  I last went there by passenger ferry from Paihia in February 2010 on a very cold and damp day.  (I cannot believe that it was so long ago!).  The place was originally known as Kororāreka and developed as a result of the trade between visiting European and American ships in the early 1800s and the indigenous Māori.  It soon earned a very bad reputation as a community without laws and full of prostitution and became known as the "Hell Hole of the Pacific" despite the translation of its name being "How sweet is the penguin", (korora meaning blue penguin and reka meaning sweet).

After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 the Governor of New Zealand, General William Hobson decided that the capital of the new colony would be inappropriate at such a lawless place and decided it would be at Okiato 7 kilometres away from Kororāreka and that it would be called Russell after Lord John Russell the British Prime Minister known for his liberal views.  In the event the colonial powers in Australia (from whence New Zealand was in effect governed in those days) decided that the new capital would be in Auckland.  So Kororāreka became called Russell instead.

Looking at it now it seems impossible to believe that it was once (only 150 years ago) such a hell hole and den of iniquity.  It seems now to be the very epitome of middle class middle New Zealand full of middle class tourists.  Perhaps appearances are deceptive.

I posted more pictures and information about Russell back in October 2010 than I think I've posted about any place that size (population 810).  It's interesting to compare these taken then on a bleak, cold rainy day with these:





21 comments:

  1. It does look more attractive in the sun. But then I guess most places do...!

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    1. True Monica. The sun lifts the spirits.

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  2. I think Russell is beautiful in all weathers. I agree, it's hard to imagine it as being anything but the tranquil place it is today. Oh, and I've been in town when the Duke of Marlborough was really rocking but there was absolutely so sign of iniquity. Or maybe I was so mellow I just didn't notice!

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    1. It is Pauline. A party with you being mellow is lots of fun!

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  3. It sure doesn't look like the Hell Hole of the Pacific any longer....it's way too cute and inviting....who would have thought it had that reputation once upon a time.
    Thanks for the history lesson GB.

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    1. A pleasure Virginia. It's one of the last places in New Zealand one can imagine having been a Hell hole.

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  4. I would like to visit there, I like that it has only 810 residents, and the hotel looks handsome and historic.

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    1. Terra that's the permanent population as reflected by the census. The real population is lost more in the tourist and holiday season (and I suspect rather less in the middle of winter - there are a lot of holiday homes).

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  5. I loved my little visit to Russell in the late 80s. Would live to visit again one day.

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    1. I hope that you manage that Carol.

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  6. Some things improve. We should learn a lesson from this as thee are many things that could stand improvement now.

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  7. It's good to see that some places manage to change for the better.

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    1. I see that you can't sleep tonight Adrian.

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    2. I usually wake every couple of hours.

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  8. It looks a well-cared for place. The picture of the hotel made me wonder about the rooms in there; I have never been to a hotel that was built of wood and imagine the walls to be rather thin, so that the guest in one room may easily overhear the guests in the next room talking... or snoring... or...

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    1. Buildings in New Zealand are very different from those in Europe Meike. I suppose Europeans would call the flimsy. I learned in a public inquiry once that solid concrete or an absolute vacuum are the most effective way of deadening sound but I've stayed in may motels in NZ and never been worried by it. Perhaps I've just been lucky.

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  9. First of, your images are exceptional, and second, Russel is very picturesque and beautiful. Seems like a calm place with nice beaches and lovely homes.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. I've obviously managed to portray it as I believe it to be Mersad.

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  10. That sunshine...are you sure you want to return to the UK, GB?

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    1. Actually Frances we've just had 5 days of solid rain and another 5 forecast! I've just had a call from a friend asking if I've got cabin fever. I haven't 'cos I'm using the time to sort out The Cottage before I leave in a couple of weeks.

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