Russell, former ‘hellhole of the Pacific’ - Roadside Stories

A Manatū Taonga audio guide to Russell

Check out the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's audio guide to Russell in the Video tab.

Today a picturesque tourist town, Russell was once a lawless settlement dubbed the ‘hellhole of the Pacific’. Then called Kororāreka, it was the site of the flagpole famously cut down four times by Ngāpuhi chief Hōne Heke, sparking the Northern War of the mid-1840s.

Related web links:

Ship-based whaling
First Catholic missionaries
‘Kororadika Beach, Bay of Islands’, 1838
The Northern War
Hōne Wiremu Heke Pōkai

Roadside Stories is a series of audio guides that follow major road trips in New Zealand. The stories cover the places you’ll pass along the way - their people, their history, their cultural and natural significance. For more information about Roadside Stories visit

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