hellhole of the pacific

Just across the bay from Paihia and Waitangi lies the little town of Kororareka, today called Russell. Since the earliest European visitations, this settlement acquired a reputation for lawlessness and depravity. The Bay of Islands, as a safe haven from the open ocean, attracted whalers, sealers, missionaries, adventurers, land speculators, tricksters, traders in trinkets, muskets and alcohol, a host of renegades and runaways from the penal colonies of New South Wales. The missionaries, the Crown emissaries, and all other respectables clustered in Paihia and Waitangi, but the scum of the earth held sway just across the bay.

It was in Kororareka where Hone Heke cut the flagstaff down, not once, but four times in all.

the ficus in the hellhole of the pacific

the ficus in the hellhole of the pacific

Today it is a quiet pretty village with a small bay of anchored yachts, a few museums and some seriously unaffordable real estate.

There is a very handsome police station, built in 1870, and next to it an enormous ficus.

French Catholics from the recently formed Society of Mary (les Marists) built the Western Oceania mission station here in 1841-2. The main building underwent various transformations during its history, from printing press to tannery to private residence.

It is called Pompallier House today, named after the bishop who led the Catholic mission to New Zealand. He never lived there. During his time in Northland he acted on several occasions to frustrate English ascendancy in the region. Did a spot of filibustering at the Treaty signing.
It’s a little museum that demonstrates the printing and tanning activities that used to take place there.

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