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: