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French Ambassador Launches Book in the Bay of Islands

PRESS RELEASE: October 2011

French Ambassador Launches Book in the Bay of Islands

The beautiful gardens in one of New Zealand's oldest historic places, Pompallier Mission in Russell, Bay of Islands provided the setting for the launch of the stunning new book The French Place in the Bay of Islands.

The book was launched by His Excellency the Ambassador of France to New Zealand Francis Etienne. All who attended, including Church and other dignitaries from around the country, were most appreciative of his eloquent speech on the relations between France and New Zealand, historically and today. He talked of universality, education, faith and the French passion for books. And of course rugby got more than a mention!

The book itself is a series of essays by a number of eminent authors, including Anne Salmond, Henare Tate, Jessie Munro, Peter Lineham and more. It presents very human stories of conflict, ambition, struggle, success and failure, shedding new light on Māori-Pakeha relations at the time of Treaty-making at Waitangi and of the founding of the New Zealand we know today

These are stories centered on the enduring French and Catholic influence in Kororāreka Russell and the Bay of Islands, specifically the work of Bishop Pompallier and of the Marist missionaries whose South Seas headquarters and printery were then here.

The timing of this book launch could not be more appropriate as the Russell townsfolk have so much fun re-enacting "The Hell Hole of the Pacific". That sensational reputation has long tended to mask another, more compelling narrative. Illustrating some of the commercial, religious and political rivalry amongst Māori hapu and between Western nations at the time, The French Place in the Bay of Islands highlights that narrative and makes persuasive reading for all.

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