Story: City history and people



Kororāreka was originally a Māori settlement. It became a base for European traders, whalers, and missionaries in the early 1800s. Many of these built houses and shops, and by the middle of the 1830s Kororāreka resembled a small town – New Zealand’s first. This view shows the settlement around 1836, with waka (canoes) and sailboats beached or lying offshore. By this time the settlement was dubbed the ‘hell-hole of the Pacific’, notorious for its drinking, fighting and prostitution. In the early 1840s the town changed its name to Russell.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0115-1-front
Aquatint after a drawing by Joel Samuel Polack

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

David Thorns and Ben Schrader, 'City history and people - The first towns', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 4 December 2020)

Story by David Thorns and Ben Schrader, published 11 Mar 2010