NORTHLAND PLACE NAMES
The name relates to a historical tribal incident concerning a warrior's walk from Opononi on the west coast. He didn't want to get his precious provisions wet so he plucked some kawakawa leaves and wrapped his larder securely inside.
Today, Opua is known as the port of first arrival for the majority of ocean-going yachts and cruisers. It is the first port of call in a journey across the Pacific and is why agricultural and customs facilities are sited here. Alongside the wharf and anchorage areas is a myriad of businesses supporting the cruising and yachting fraternity and a large cafe.
In December 1832 the first mention of cricket being played in New Zealand was recorded in Paihia. Three years later another cricket game was witnessed by Charles Darwin while his ship the Beagle spent 10 days in the Bay of Islands.
That same year in Paihia, William Colenso set up the first printing press in New Zealand but even before that the area's first hotel was built in Haruru Falls in 1828.
Haruru Falls helps define the area's history too. It was the country's first river port and an aramoana (sea, road or ocean path) for inland Maori tribes. Missionaries once saw 60 to 100 canoes pulled up on the mud banks and it was from there that Maori traded. There were nine kaianga (villages) between Haruru and Waitangi at one time.
Ref - Northland Age
Ref - Te Ara: Encyclopaedia of NZ
Ref - NZ History.net
Ref - IDNZ
'Hell-hole of the Pacific' The town began as the native village of Kororareka and acquired its first Europeans - ship deserters and time-expired convicts from New South Wales - after whaling ships began calling here for provisions from the early 1800s.
By 1840 Kororareka was the largest European settlement in the country, by which time it had become an important whaling, sealing and mercantile centre where hundreds of ships called each year. Despite the efforts of the mission stations nearby it was very much a lawless frontier town, a jumble of Maori and European architecture jammed with gun-toting Maori and Pakeha, crowded with grog-shops and crammed with Maori ship-girls and adventurers of every breed. Its licentiousness was probably exaggerated by the missionaries, but the town certainly included the flotsam and jetsam of the world and well-earned its unsavoury title of 'Hell-hole of the Pacific'. Felton Mathew (1801-47), the country's first Surveyor-General, arrived with Captain Hobson and reported that Kororareka was 'a vile hole, full of impudent, half-drunken people'.
The first capital: Soon after his arrival and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, Captain William Hobson purchased about 124 hectares at Okiato (near Russell) as a site for the country's capital. An ambitious plan was prepared but only one of its roads was ever built, leading inappropriately from Government House to the jail.
The infant township was named 'Russell' and for nine months was the 'capital' of New Zealand. Hobson, his choice opposed by his superiors in New South Wales, looked for yet another site and early in 1841 moved the seat of government to Auckland, where it remained until 1865. 'Russell' continued to house the Bond Store, a detachment of troops and the Police Magistrate, but its fate was sealed when Government House and its offices were burned to the ground in 1842. Soon even its name was lost. In an effort to escape its bawdy image, Kororareka, less than eight kilometres away, was renamed Russell.
Ref - Russell NZ