Pompallier House In Russell

Pompallier House and Missionary – Buy 

When ships started stopping off at some of the more well known bays and inlets around New Zealand in the early 1800’s, they brought plenty of goods to trade with local Māori. Local iwi eagerly provided items such as fish, pork, kumara, freshwater and women for items such as guns, and blankets. 

However, when the ships were in port and their crews were set loose on shore-leave, they also brought other interests with them such as grogshops and brothels. Both of which did a roaring trade. In fact, life in some of the bays around New Zealand became fairly rough and rowdy. Nowhere was this more evident than at a place in the Bay of Islands called Kororāreka (Russell). 

In Kororāreka, such was the unruly behaviour that when Charles Darwin visited in the summer of 1835/1836 he declared the place the “hellhole of the pacific”. So, to help sort out all the miss-behaviour, Missionaries were sent to New Zealand and when they arrived they had two main goals. Firstly, to introduce christianity to Māori and secondly to try and keep law and order among the European settlers.

One of these Missionaries was French Bishop Jean Baptiste François Pompallier who arrived in January 1839. Pompallier quickly got to work and by the end of 1844 he had setup Missionaries in Hokianga Whangaroa, Kaipara, Tauranga, Akaroa, Matamata, Ōpōtiki, Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and Whakatāne, with his headquarters being Kororāreka.  

At his headquarters at Pompallier House (built in 1842), he developed a printing press that translated church texts from Latin to te reo Māori. They were then printed, bound and distributed around the country. Producing a staggering 40,000 books, the missionary at Pompallier House had a major effect on the development of literacy around the country.

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