Pacific Hotel / Hananui
Original photo © Russell Museum

This photo shows the Pacific Hotel, later known as Hananui Boarding House, in its prime. It was built in the 1870s and demolished in 1961 to make way for the Hananui Motel, the first motel for Russell.

The land it stood on was part of a larger area granted to Tamati Waka Nene in 1866. He gave a section of it to the widowed Matilda Cook whose husband, George, was a relative. Matilda had kept a motherly eye on Nene in his cottage nearby. She built a hotel to provide a living for herself and her family. In the back garden was a well, lined with stones brought from Waitangi. On the York Street boundary was a long low hall, older than the hotel, used as a skittle alley by visiting sailors.

Matilda’s sons were involved in shore whaling at Whangamumu and their steam whaler was named Hananui, a name later transferred to the Hotel.

It’s a name from Stewart Island – a long way from the Bay of Islands but there is a link. Matilda’s son Herbert Francis Cook married Ellen Marie Anglem from Stewart Island. Mount Anglem is the Island’s highest peak and its Maori name is Hananui. Both the steam whaler and the house honour that connection. Four generations of the Cook family were associated with the old building.