Did you know that 40 forty years ago planning permission was granted by both the Bay of Islands County Council and the Town and Country Planning Board for a four- story block of twenty four luxury apartments to be built on the Russell waterfront adjacent to Pompallier House? The accompanying photo is a mock-up representation of the 1.4 million dollar (1974 value) building that so nearly became a reality.
It was 1974. Mr. Roy Haywood, the driving force behind the project, owned Clendon Cottage and six acres of adjacent land. Despite outraged protests from local residents, environmentalists and the Historical Society (so named in an article from the NZ Woman’s Weekly) it seemed nothing could stop the building from going ahead. Earthworks had begun when the Crown acquired the land under the Public Works Act. For two years Mr Haywood fought the decision, going so far as to camp on the steps of parliament in the hope of persuading the government of the day to reverse the decision. His protests were unsuccessful.
As a footnote, at the height of the furore, a very young Mike Moore, newly elected to the Labour party, arrived in Russell on his honeymoon. He spent much of his time canvassing the locals regarding their opinions and seeing first hand the impact the development would have on the village. It was soon after this the Government intervened thus ensuring that the south end of the Russell waterfront retained the attractive image it has to this day. Weren’t we lucky!