Russell Museum


Voyaging Poynesians explored and named Ipipiri more than a thousand years ago. Much later, British explorer James Cook wrote “I have named it the Bay of Islands“. Kororāreka, today known as Russell, was originally occupied by Ngāre Raumati, then Ngāti Manu, and later Ngāpuhi. Kororāreka Russell’s sheltered anchorage and strategic position between the rich resources of both sea and hinterland made it a highly desirable place.
As the visiting number of European ships grew, Kororāreka chiefs joined the competition for trade and commerce. With their active encouragement, Kororāreka became New Zealand’s primary pioneer settlement and trading post.

The ships of whalers, naval explorers, pirates and traders arrived for repairs and maintenance, victualling, rest and recreation. Their home countries needed building materials and other supplies – and Māori quickly took advantage of the opportunity.

The Kororāreka story is of rapid change as the two worlds engaged with each other, especially as relationships between Māori and the British grew. Settlers and chiefs in authority here helped select New Zealand’s first flag, contributed to New Zealand’s Declaration of Independence, debated the Treaty of Waitangi.

Situated between New Zealand’s oldest church and the beach where Lieutenant Governor William Hobson landed to read Queen Victoria’s Proclamation in January 1840, and bordering on the site of the Battle of Kororāreka in 1845, Russell Museum focuses on these founding stories, vital to understanding the New Zealand we know today.

A visit to Russell Museum will place students within this contested landscape and provide them with background and supporting material for further study.

Temporary exhibitions also add to the visiting experience. A current exhibition on display is Ipipiri, a digital map created in partnership with Te Au Mārie Trust. Click on the link below for more information.

Ipipiri Interactive Digital Map Experience Poster

Russell Museum Poster

A guided tour of the Museum and grounds is also available on request.

Russell Museum logo
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