"Russell Museum - Te Whare Taonga o Kororareka"

Telling the stories of Ipipiri Bay of Islands

Museum history

This important landmark in the Russell village arose from plans to mark the New Zealand Centennial year of 1940. The vision was a building to house a Town Council office, library, restroom and a museum.

Land was given by Charles Frederick and Mary Ann Baker, and a building was erected in 1954. Two years later a small museum room was ready for visitors. It was a long room about 10 metres by 5 metres. Originally, the museum was called the Russell Centennial Museum from 1956-1970.


Because of good reports from early European visitors, Russell became a popular base for visiting Pacific whalers who needed a base to pick up supplies, get repairs done, and give their men shore time.

For nearly a hundred years whalers, particularly American, visited the port. Kororareka changed to accommodate their needs with waterfront grog shops and brothels a feature. It earned the nickname Hell-hole of the Pacific.


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.

Multi Media Bar

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