3/10/14

Bishop Pompallier was on a mission


French Bishop Pompallier was on a mission. He built this mission at Russell in the 1830's after being moved on by the Protestants on the west coast who already had the joint sewn up - in an ecclesiastical sense anyway.

He brought a printing press with him from France and set about translating, typesetting, printing and binding a bible for Maori. He must have had a hard job of it in Russell (or Kororareka as it was called then - the so called 'Hell hole of the Pacific') he had to build the place first and you couldn't exactly pop down to Benchmark to pick up your building materials like we do these days, so they used a rammed earth technique to construct the walls. 

That's right, despite it's picturesque appearance, the building wasn't built as a residence, purely a factory to print and bind bibles, even the leather used to bind the books was processed in a tannery out back. 

We had an fascinating tour of the place where the guide demonstrated the processes that went into type setting, printing and binding the books, even into the rammed earth technique they used to construct the walls.

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