New Zealand History/The New Zealand Wars

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The New Zealand Wars[edit]

The New Zealand Wars were a series of conflicts- mainly in the North Island between the native Maori, British troops and occasionally settlers.

The causes of the wars are believed to be the sudden influx of European settlers to New Zealand (far more arrived than the Maoris anticipated), and the struggle for control of the land that followed. Also, many chiefs felt that the British were not holding up their end of the bargain with the Treaty of Waitangi.

There were at least nine distinct wars in the New Zealand Wars. They were:


The Wairau Confrontation - 1843[edit]

In the first engagement of the New Zealand Wars, 49 armed settlers from Nelson tried to enforce a disputed land sale with Maori from the Ngati Toa tribe. The land on the Wairau Plains had supposedly been bought earlier by The New Zealand Company, but the local Maori disputed that claim.

The rights to the land were under investigation at the time by Land Claims Commissioner, William Spain, but after Maori burned a surveyor's hut on the Wairau Plains to the ground, some Nelson settlers had decided to take things into their own hands.

The initial skirmish was unsuccessful, with the Maori refusing to surrender the land. Fifteen Maori and settlers were killed, eleven Europeans were captured and around thirty-nine settlers escaped the scene.

The new Governor, Robert FitzRoy, considered a major invasion on the Ngati Toa tribe, but eventually decided against it because the settlers had been wrong in taking matters into their own hands.

Hone Heke cutting down the British flagstaff at Kororareka.

The Northern War - 1845-46[edit]

The Northern War involved the British Army's pursuit of Hone Heke and Kawhiti of the Nga Puhi tribe, after Heke attempted to cut the British flag pole down a fourth and final time, to show the British empire as weak. This attack resulted in the burning, destruction and looting of New Zealands capital Kororareka after Kawiti and Heke attacked the British in March 1845.

Three of the major engagements in the Northern War were fought at Puketutu, Ohaeawai and Ruapekapeka.

The Wellington-Hutt War - 1846[edit]

Continued confrontations over disputed land sales in the Hutt Valley were the cause of the Wellington-Hutt War, which was fought between the Ngati Toa tribe, settlers and the British Army. The Ngati Toa tribe eventually fled north to refuge.

Wanganui War - 1847-48[edit]

Disputed land sales led to conflict around Wanganui. Wanganui itself was attacked by Topine Te Mamaku.


North Taranaki War - 1860-61[edit]

War broke out in North Taranaki in March 1860 over a block of land which a Te Atiawa Chief wanted to sell to the Crown, but many members of the tribe didn't want to give up.

The Maori opposed to the sale were led by Wiremu Kingi. The Governor soon sent out surveyors to the block of land, but the members of the Te Atiawa tribe opposed to the sale obstructed them, and built a Pa inside the south-east corner of the block of land.

On the 17th of March 1860, the British Army marched out from New Plymouth and opened fire on the Pa.

Further engagements were fought at Puketekauere, Mahoetahi, No 3 Redoubt and Te Arei.

The British Army eventually prevailed over the Maori, and a truce was signed at Te Arei Pa in 1861.


Invasion of the Waikato - 1863-64[edit]

One of the major wars of the New Zealand Wars, the Invasion of the Waikato was a massive British Army invasion of the Maori King's home district, the Waikato. The British Army ultimately defeated Waikato and its allies at Orakau in 1864. The Maori King fled, and took refuge amongst the Ngati Maniapoto tribe.


Tauranga - 1864[edit]

Major battles were fought between the Ngai Te Rangi tribe, the British Army and settlers at Gate Pa and Te Ranga.


Central-South Taranaki War - 1863-69[edit]

The Ngati Ruanui tribe, which had been helping other tribes in the North Taranaki War, returned to Southern Taranaki after the war, and attacked Tataraimaka in 1863. The British Army was sent into the area to control the Maori. The British Army was eventually replaced by the New Zealand Armed Constabulary, so the British Army could return home to England.


East Coast War - 1868-72[edit]

Te Kooti, of the Rongowhakaata tribe, escaped from his imprisonment on the Chatham Islands, and with his followers, was chased across the North Island. He eventually found refuge in the King Country.


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