Oh, What a Lovely Hell-Hole!


This year’s Hell Hole of the Pacific street theatre event in Russell has proved to be the most successful since it began during the Rugby World Cup in 2011. It has now become an established annual part of the Bay of Islands’ calendar.

On Anniversary Weekend, actors from Russell and Kerikeri Theatre Company brought back the unruly days of Kororāreka during the 1800s in a theatrical parody of the town’s most infamous years.

There were three performances daily and crowds were substantially up on previous years. Visitors joined locals, those from Northland who made the journey especially and others from around New Zealand who were holidaying in the region.

Crowds for Sunday’s performances were boosted by cruise ship passengers from the Viking Sun. In an unusual move, passengers were ferried by ship’s tender to Russell wharf. Their destination was signalled on board as a visit to Pompallier House and travellers took the opportunity to view Hell Hole of the Pacific street theatre performances while on the foreshore.

Koha collected on the day (which included American dollars from cruise ship visitors) will be donated to Russell School and the local St John’s charity shop. Local business owners and staff from Russell craft and Saturday market, Delish Coffee House, MacKiwi and Russell Swordfish Club dressed in appropriate garb for the weekend.

Director, Cris Aronson, said the cast of 31 for this year’s performances was also the biggest yet. Discussions are already under way regarding improvements for next year.


Images by Paul Rayner


Duel: New Zealand’s first duel between Joel Polack and Ben Turner is re-enacted on Russell’s foreshore.


Temperance: Temperance Women make their views known.


Constable Michael has a hell of a job to do!

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