The Russell Centennial Trust Board was established to mark the 1940 Centennial of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Trust raised funds and on donated land erected a building to house a public library, town board office, women’s rest room and Plunket room and later a Museum.
Today, reflecting different needs, the building houses the Russell Museum and a community library. The organisation is community focused.
Russell Museum aims to reflect the history of the town and to support historic preservation. The museum’s collection is important in promoting New Zealand culture because Russell – then named Kororareka – lay at the threshold of the earliest connection between the two worlds of Maori and Pakeha. The collection dates from before then and is always being added to.
In 2002 it was decided that the Museum required a total facelift to keep pace with other tourist ventures. The Museum was going through a static period. The interior was in need of a coat of paint and a new lighting system. The display cases were 40 years old. Funds were required to bring about the changes. A museum consultant was brought on board. Plans were drawn up, ongoing applications for funding were made.
Stage 1 was an area dedicated to Maori displays and artefacts and for a small souvenir shop within the museum.
Stage 2 was devoted to the European influence on the town and an upgrade to the “Endeavour” wing.
Stage 3 was the Marie King Gallery which incorporates a small theatre showing a historic video, a gallery space for changing exhibitions and a historic photo archive on computer.
Work on the grounds is ongoing: a new shelter has been built for the whaleboat; landscaping is underway with native trees and plants being planted; featured in the grounds are a punga fence and seating, and a Rongoa Maori (medicinal plant) garden complete with explanatory signs; art works have been commissioned from local artists.
Russell Museum’s Photo Archives contain over two thousand photos. Most are owned by Russell Museum but others are copy prints from other institutions used for reference purposes only. The museum has a selection of these available for viewing on computer in the Marie King Gallery. They are a fascinating resource for visitors, for research and projects.
If you want the perfect complement to your study, look no further than Russell Museum. We have it all – a model of Captain Cook’s Endeavour, connections to whaling days, early settler life, and contemporary exhibitions. Come and see our historic video and hear “our stories”. We are a member of the Bay of Islands Field trip group and make history come alive!
The Museum shop features a wide range of unique unusual gifts. Items include books, bone carvings, scrimshaw, greenstone (pounamu) and paua jewelry as well as cards and paintings. It is a great place to get a gift, birthday presents or a souvenir of your visit to the Bay of Islands.
"Nau mai haere mai ki te Whare Taonga of Kororareka - Welcome to Russell Museum"
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Big Tree – it’s an advertisement for benzine. You can only just make out the words on the roof of the wharf shed. They were on the other side too for a few years. This “new” Government wharf opened in 1927. Several years later Lord Bledisloe, Governor General from 1930 to 35, visited Russell. Bledisloe is remembered for gifting the Waitangi National Trust land, and the Bledisloe Cup, to the nation. He was also known for giving voice to his social conscience – at his own instigation, his salary...
Russell Town Council 1956-9 Original photo © Russell Museum This photo shows the members of the Russell Town Council 1956-9 seated outside the entrance to the Russell Library. The room that the library now uses as a workroom was the Town Council room where meetings were held and the town clerk presided. Councillors in this photo are back row, left to right: Fred Gooder, Frank Dender, Merv Wallis, and in the front Huia (Birdie) King, Eric Gilmour and Ernie Tinkler town clerk. All resident in Russell, people with a...
Original photo © Russell Museum Leo White’s Singer car on Maiki hill in 1930. This photo shows Leo White’s little Singer car believed to have been the first car to drive up to the flagstaff on Maiki hill in 1930. Leo worked for the Auckland Weekly News as a photographer and after the war took up aerial photography founding Whites Aviation selling wonderful hand coloured aerial views including the Bay of Islands. Maiki means the high place and the hill continues to be a focus for our town and...