A passenger in my taxi the other night commented how much Russell had changed. Seems theyâ€™d last been here about thirty years ago â€“ in fact (they said) it was the summer of 1977 and the first issue of the RUSSELL REVIEW had just been published.
I was lucky enough to find a copy of that RR. Inside, Editors (Eva Brown and K Burrows) had described it as â€œa non-political publication dedicated to the protection of the natural and human resources that still exist in the Bay of Islands.â€
They said it was their belief that democracy was invented to empower people to have a say in the running of their own affairs, and hoped to provide a forum for everyone who has the future of Russell, and other villages like Russell, at heart.
So not much has changed there â€“ thatâ€™s what the RR and the RL are trying to do today.
But there have been changes (of course). In those days, the phone numbers were all three digits, and Heather and Linty Lindauer were oysterfarmers. Trisha Clifford and Nat Davey had just been born. The back shop was an IGA, and Craigs owned the Front Shop. Duncan Hawkins was our butcher. And Russell had just got its first ambulance, thanks to the efforts of the Lions Club, which was then very active in the community.
James Laidlaw was a notable cartoonist living right here in Russell (see his first cartoon in the RR â€“ courtesy Russell Review).
Frank Miller represented the Russell Riding on the Bay of Islands Community Council â€“ so in those days Council staff and elected members knew that York St was Russell (and Yorke St was somewhere else). Frank commented that he bent over backwards to help ratepayers and residents but had to â€˜work within the confines of many and varied statutesâ€™.
So that hasnâ€™t changed!
Another thing that hasnâ€™t changed has been the high standard of penmanship and artwork that makes up the Russell Review.
â€œTechnology has changed, sure,â€ said my passenger, â€œbut Russell is one of those special places where you always seem to have more than the average number of talented people â€“ THAT hasnâ€™t changed.â€
We do indeed have a taonga. The current issue of the Russell Review, still with some copies on sale (at the Russell Bookshop and other devoted outlets such as the Hardware), covers those topics in detail â€“ focusing on the history and the environment and the creative, skilled artisans that live here.
The 2006 issue celebrates Catrina Sutterâ€™s work, the work of two jewellers and the years of wearable arts in this community. It interviews special people such as Beryl Boerop and Joy Comley and some of Russellâ€™s families such as the Rishworths and the Daveys. No Russell Review would be complete without upskilling our history, and aspects of the French connection and Fitzroyâ€™s contribution are explored.
Local projects such as the funds raised for tsunami relief, the Environmental Expo and the Okiato-Russell Walkway are also covered. You can get a good look at what Russellites are like from reading the RR â€“ and itâ€™s great value for $10.
Hereâ€™s a bonus! Averil (at the Russell Bookshop) will also let you order it over the internet or phone! That friendly service epitomises the friendliness of this community.
Which reminds me, when I was in her shop the other day, there was a man with a screaming, bellowing baby in a backpack. Well, the man kept repeating softly, â€œDonâ€™t get excited, Matthew; donâ€™t scream, Matthew. Donâ€™t yell, Matthew. Keep calm, Matthew.â€
Averil, with her wonderful smile, said, â€œYou certainly are to be commended for trying to soothe Matthew.â€
The man looked at Averil and grinned back. â€œMadam, my babyâ€™s name is Angeline,â€ he said. â€œIt is I, who is Matthew!â€