The New Zealand Collection Presents: This week in History: March 8th – 14th

Do you know where Kororāreka is? This week in history has the answer. Each week we feature topics that make up the This Week in History display in the NZ Collection. In this blog we also suggest other collections and resources that can be accessed via the internet or at the Central Library to find out more about each topic. As usual this week’s selected topic comes from the Today in History page at

11 March 1845 The fall of Kororāreka.
Kororāreka, also known as Russell, and situated in the Bay of Islands, was a major trading centre and the fifth largest town in New Zealand. The township witnessed many significant historical events. Many of these events featured the Māori chief Hone Heke who, famously and dramatically expressed his dissatisfaction with the effects of European colonisation by chopping down the flagstaff on the hill above Kororāreka a number of times.

Hone Heke
Image retrieved from: McCormick, Arthur David, 1860-1943. McCormick, Arthur David, 1860-1943 :Heke fells the flagstaff at Kororareka. (Page 109). [1908]. McCormick, Arthur David 1860-1943 :[Illustrations from “New Zealand; romance of empire”, by Reginald Horsley…with twelve reproductions in colour from drawings by A.D. McCormick, R.I. London, T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1908].. Ref: A-004-037. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Early on the morning of 11 March 1845 a Māori force attacked Kororāreka. Hōne Heke and Kawiti were key figures in the attacking forces. (Biographical information has been linked from the Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand website.)

Heke and Kawiti
Full length standing portraits of Hone Heke, his wife and Kawiti. Heke and Kawiti are in Maori clothing, Hariata in European. Hariata has an arm around Heke’s shoulder, while Heke is holding a musket and Kawiti, a taiaha.
Image retrieved from Merrett, Joseph Jenner, 1815-1854. [Merrett, Joseph Jenner] 1815-1854 :The warrior chieftains of New Zealand. Harriett, Heki’s wife – Heki – Kawiti. Drawn by Jos.h J. Merrett. Drawn on stone by W. Nicholas. Sydney, W[illia]m Ford [1846]. Ref: C-010-013. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Their opponents included another Ngāpuhi leader, Tāmati Wāka Nene. There were a number of motives behind the battle. Heke wanted the Māori-language version of the Treaty of Waitangi to be honoured, Māori independence preserved and more authority from increasing government interference. Heke did not want settlers harmed and most of the townspeople were evacuated to the ships anchored in the harbour the Victoria and the Active to be safe from the battle. The British ships sailed for Auckland on 12 March, effectively surrendering Kororāreka to Heke and Kawiti.

1839: View from the sea, looking towards the houses of Russell along the beach, the pa in the centre and canoes drawn up at the waterfront. Image retrieved from [Taylor, Richard], 1805-1873 :Kororareka. 1839.. Taylor, Richard, 1805-1873 :Sketchbook. 1835-1860.. Ref: E-296-q-171-1. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Here are some of the books about Kororāreka and people that made history there that can be found in ‘The New Zealand Collection’ at Central Library.

Syndetics book coverHell-hole of the Pacific / Richard Wolfe.
“No settlement in New Zealand can claim a past as colourful and chequered as that of Kororareka, in the Bay of Islands, later to become Russell. In the 1830s it was such a wild place that it earned the name ‘hell-hole of the Pacific’. Whalers, sealers, escaped convicts, seamen, and adventurers descended on the little Maori village. Drunkenness, debauchery, grog shops, and the oldest profession proliferated. It rivaled similar settlements around the Pacific, such as Sydney, San Francisco, and Hawaii. Richard Wolfe’s new book reminds us that early periods of European settlement were often a torrid and eventful time. Includes a photo insert and maps of the area.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe French place in the Bay of Islands : essays from Pompallier’s printery = Te urunga mai o te iwi Wīwī / edited by Kate Martin & Brad Mercer.
“The stunning new book The French Place in the Bay of Islands presents very human stories of conflict, ambition, struggle, success and failure, shedding new light on Maori-Pakeha relations at the time of Treaty-making at Waitangi and of the founding of the last nation in the world, New Zealand. These are stories centered on the enduring French and Catholic influence in the Bay of Islands, specifically the work of Bishop Pompallier and of the Marist missionaries whose South Seas headquarters and printery were then in Kororareka Russell. Kororareka’s sensational reputation as a “hellhole of vice” has long tended to mask another, more compelling narrative. Illustrating some of the commercial, religious and political rivalry amongst Maori hapu and between Western nations at the time, this book highlights that narrative and makes persuasive reading for all.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHone Heke : Nga Puhi warrior / Paul Moon. Paul Moon’s latest biography is a captivating account of the life of the Ngā Puhi warrior chief Hone Heke. It is set against a background of political turmoil and ethnic tension, and at almost every turn, the reader will be surprised by the remarkable events and circumstances that engulfed New Zealand in the mid 1840’s. (Summary abridged from back cover)

Syndetics book coverSpeeches that shaped New Zealand : 1814-1956 / Hugh Templeton, Ian Templeton & Josh Easby.
“”A collection of historically significant speeches by those who helped lead the development of New Zealand as a nation between 1814 and 1956″–Publisher’s information.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe meeting place : Māori and Pākehā encounters, 1642-1840 / Vincent O’Malley.
“An account focusing on the encounters between the Maori and Pakeha–or European settlers–and the process of mutual discovery from 1642 to around 1840, this New Zealand history book argues that both groups inhabited a middle ground in which neither could dictate the political, economic, or cultural rules of engagement. By looking at economic, religious, political, and sexual encounters, it offers a strikingly different picture to traditional accounts of imperial Pakeha power over a static, resistant Maori society. With fresh insights, this book examines why mostly beneficial interactions between these two cultures began to merge and the reasons for their subsequent demise after 1840.” (Syndetics summary)