new zealand wars

Events In History


Māori King movement - 1860-94

  • Māori King movement - 1860-94

    King Tāwhiao's reign was dominated by the Waikato War and the fallout from it.

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  • Page 2 – Build-up to war

    Like his father, King Tāwhiao had no intention of becoming involved in the war in Taranaki. The government, however, remained unconvinced of this. In July 1860 Governor Gore

  • Page 3 – Response to war

    The invasion of Waikato unified the factions within the Kīngitanga, whose forces won some victories despite being at an overwhelming disadvantage in terms of manpower and

New Zealand's 19th-century wars

  • New Zealand's 19th-century wars

    War changed the face of New Zealand in the 19th century. Many thousands of Māori died in the intertribal Musket Wars between the 1810s and the 1830s. There were more deaths during the New Zealand Wars of the 1840s to 1870s between some Māori and the Crown, which for many tribes had dire consequences.

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  • Page 3 – Taranaki and Waikato wars

    An overview of the conflict between Māori and European settlers in Taranaki and Waikato during the New Zealand Wars.

  • Page 4 – Prophets and colonists

    From 1864, a new round of fighting in the New Zealand Wars was sparked by Māori religious movements.

  • Page 5 – End of the New Zealand Wars

    The New Zealand Wars ended in 1872. European settlers prevailed through weight of numbers and economic power. By 1900, New Zealand was a settler society, with Māori pushed out

  • Page 6 – NZ Wars flags

    Many Maori in the 19th century saw the Union Jack as a potent symbol of Great Britain's power in New Zealand. In the New Zealand Wars, Maori who resisted government forces

  • Page 7 – The Victoria Cross and the NZ Wars

    There were 15 recipients of the Victoria Cross and 23 of the New Zealand Cross for action during New Zealand’s 19th-century wars.

  • Page 8 – Timeline

    Timeline of key events related to the Musket and New Zealand Wars, 1800s-1910s

  • Page 9 – Further information

    Recommended links and books relating to New Zealand's 19th-century wars

Pai Marire

  • Pai Marire

    Pai Marire (goodness and peace) was one of several new Māori faiths to emerge in the 19th century. Like many others, it was closely tied to issues of land and politics.

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  • Page 2 – Te Ua Haumēne

    Pai Mārire disciples travelled around the North Island in the mid-1860s. Against a backdrop of war and land confiscations, the founding principle of Pai Marire was often

  • Page 3 – The death of Carl Völkner

    The killing of missionary Carl Völkner by Pai Mārire followers in 1865 shocked the colony. The government used the event to justify taking harsh action against the Pai Mārire

War in Wellington

  • War in Wellington

    In 1846 fighting broke out in the Wellington region when Ngāti Toa chief Te Rangihaeata backed local Maori opposed to European settlement in Hutt Valley. The campaign claimed few lives but effectively ended Ngāti Toa resistance in the region.

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  • Page 2 – The Port Nicholson purchase

    In September 1839 William Wakefield, the principal agent for the New Zealand Company, met Te Ātiawa chiefs Te Puni and Te Wharepōuri at Pito-one (Petone), on the northern shore

War in Whanganui

  • War in Whanganui

    The confusion and uncertainty that had surrounded the New Zealand Company's land purchases in Whanganui erupted into violence in the autumn and winter of 1847. The conflict also involved long-standing rivalries between upper and lower Whanganui River Māori.

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  • Page 2 – Background

    From the outset there was confusion and uncertainty over the exact nature and extent of the New Zealand Company's purchase at Whanganui.

  • Page 3 – The Matarawa killings

    The killing of Mary Gilfillan and three of her children caused tension between upriver and downriver Māori as well as among Europeans.

  • Page 4 – The siege of Whanganui

    Te Mamaku led 700 Ngāti Hāua-te-rangi fighters who attacked Whanganui in May 1847.

  • Page 5 – Moutoa Island

    The Pai Mārire religion divided Māori. Some supported it, but others mistrusted its political intent. Events on the Whanganui River in 1864 showed the conflict about the faith

  • Page 6 – The 1865 campaign

    Following the battle of Moutoa Island in 1864, Hīpango pursued the retreating Pai Mārire (Hauhau). Fighting continued from fortified positions upriver, near Hiruhārama.

War in Taranaki 1860-63

  • War in Taranaki 1860-63

    In March 1860 war broke out between Europeans and Māori in Taranaki following a dispute over the sale of land at Waitara. It was the beginning of a series of conflicts that would dog Taranaki for 21 years, claiming the lives of hundreds of people and leaving deep scars that persist to the present day.

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  • Page 2 – Pressure on Māori land

    As the Pākehā population of New Zealand increased during the 1850s, Māori faced growing pressure to sell their land.

  • Page 3 – The Waitara offer

    Wiremu Kingi's opposition to the Crown's attempts to purchase land near the mouth of the Waitara River in north Taranaki in 1859 led to the outbreak of war in March 1860

  • Page 4 – Fighting begins

    The opening shots of the Taranaki War were fired at Kīngi's new pā, Te Kohia – also known as the ‘L’ pa because of its shape – on 17 March 1860.

  • Page 5 – Puketakauere

    On 27 June 1860 the British suffered a heavy defeat near Waitara. The Te Ātiawa chief Hapurona had strengthened the defences on the twin pā sites of Puketakauere and

  • Page 6 – A change in tactics

    The arrival in August 1860 of Major-General Thomas Pratt heralded the development of a new strategy to break the cordon that encircled New Plymouth.

  • Page 7 – Stalemate

    After a year of war, Governor Thomas Gore Browne saw little likelihood of victory in the near future. A truce was arranged on 18 March 1861.

  • Page 8 – The second Taranaki war

    On 12 March 1863, 300 men of the 57th Regiment evicted Māori from the land they had occupied at Tataraimaka, 20 km south-west of New Plymouth.

  • Page 9 – Further information

    Links and books for further reading about the Taranaki wars

New Zealand Wars memorials

  • New Zealand Wars memorials

    There are more than 60 memorials in New Zealand to the dead of the New Zealand Wars. But their story is strikingly different to that of the memorials put up in memory of those who died in the country’s other major conflicts

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  • Page 1 - New Zealand Wars memorialsThere are more than 60 memorials in New Zealand to the dead of the New Zealand Wars. But their story is strikingly different to that of the memorials put up in memory of those who

War in Waikato

  • War in Waikato

    After fighting broke out again in Taranaki in early 1863, Governor George Grey turned his attention to the region he saw as the root of his problems with Māori: Waikato, the heartland of the anti-landselling King Movement. Grey vowed to ‘dig around’ the Kīngitanga until it fell.

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  • Page 2 – Invasion plans

    Governor Gore Browne demanded that the Kīngitanga submit ‘without reserve’ to the British Queen and began planning an invasion of Waikato shortly before his reassignment to

  • Page 3 – The opening phase

    The British invasion of Waikato began on 12 July 1863. The first Māori line of defence was at Meremere. After this was bypassed, Rangiriri and Pāterangi provided a second and

  • Page 4 – Rangiriri

    The decisive battle for Waikato was fought at Rangiriri in November 1863.

  • Page 5 – The invasion continues

    After the British victory at Rangiriri, Wiremu Tāmihana tried to negotiate peace. He sent his greenstone mere (club) to Cameron as a token of his good faith. But neither Grey

  • Page 6 – The Battle of Ōrākau

    James Belich argues that the British victory at Ōrākau was also their ‘cruellest disappointment of the entire war’. Chris Pugsley, on the other hand, sees Ōrākau as the ‘

War in Tauranga

  • War in Tauranga

    During the first half of 1864 the focus of the New Zealand Wars shifted from Waikato to Tauranga. In this phase of the conflict the British suffered a catastrophic defeat at Pukehinahina – better known as the Gate Pā – before inflicting heavy losses on a Māori force at Te Ranga.

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  • Page 2 – Invitation to war

    Ngāi Te Rangi leader Rāwiri Puhirake resisted Wiremu Tāmihana’s request for help during the war in Waikato for fear that this would lead to bloodshed in Tauranga. The arrival

  • Page 3 – Gate Pā

    Gate Pā was a major disaster for the British military, who suffered twice the casualties of the Māori defenders

  • Page 4 – Aftermath

    British soul-searching after the defeat at Gate Pā did not acknowledge the superior tactics and capability of their enemy.

  • Page 5 – Te Ranga

    Unlike at Gate Pā, where the British assault was concentrated on two points, at Te Ranga they were able to attack all along the line of trenches.

  • Page 6 – The fighting ends

    By the end of July the Tauranga war was over. Most of Ngāi Te Rangi accepted peace and handed over weapons, although many of these were old and of poor quality.

  • Page 7 – Further information

    Links and further reading about the war in Tauranga

Te Kooti's war

  • Te Kooti's war

    Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Tūrukiwas one of the most significant Māori leaders of the 19th century. For nearly four years he waged a guerrilla war unlike any previous conflict in the New Zealand Wars. His influence continues to be felt in eastern Bay of Plenty and East Coast, where his Ringatū faith remains strong.

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  • Page 2 – Clashes of faith

    A civil war erupted on the East Coast in the winter of 1865 when Hauhau evangelists ignored a warning not to enter Ngāti Porou territory.

  • Page 3 – Exile and deliverance

    Chatham Island was home for Te Kooti and his fellow prisoners for two years.

  • Page 4 – Te Kooti's war begins

    In July 1868 Major Reginald Biggs sent three Māori emissaries to Whareongaonga. Te Kooti and his followers were told to surrender all their weapons and ‘await the decision of

  • Page 5 – Matawhero

    Shortly before midnight on 9 November 1868, Te Kooti and around 100 men moved on Matawhero. By dawn nearly 60 people from Matawhero and the adjacent kāinga had been killed.

  • Page 6 – Ngātapa

    An attack by a combined Ngāti Porou-government force saw Te Kooti retreat inland to the ancient hilltop pā of Ngātapa.

  • Page 7 – Te Kooti goes to Te Kūiti

    Te Kooti was invited to the King Country only if he came in peace. He responded defiantly that he was coming to ‘assume himself the supreme authority which he coming direct

  • Page 8 – Te Pōrere and retreat

    On 25 September Te Kooti was defeated by a combined force of Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa at Te Ponanga, near Tokaanu.

  • Page 9 – A Māori matter

    Te Kooti's final decades

  • Page 10 – Further information

    Links and books relating to Te Kooti's war

Tītokowaru's war

  • Tītokowaru's war

    In the 1980s James Belich argued that Tītokowaru’s war had become a ‘dark secret’ of New Zealand history, ‘forgotten by the Pākehā as a child forgets a nightmare’. For Belich, Tītokowaru was ‘arguably the best general New Zealand has ever produced’.

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  • Page 2 – Early years

    Tītokowaru’s commitment to missionary Christianity was showing signs of strain by the 1850s as a Māori nationalist movement emerged.

  • Page 3 – The year of the lamb

    Tītokowaru proclaimed 1867 as ‘the year of the daughters … the year of the lamb’. His efforts for ‘reconciliation and peace’ were remarkable, given the events of the previous

  • Page 4 – The war begins

    In March 1868 Tītokowaru authorised a muru (punitive plunder) against Pākehā involved in the confiscation of land at Ketemarae (Normanby).

  • Page 5 – Turuturumōkai to Moturoa

    Before dawn on Sunday 12 July 1868, 60 of Tītokowaru’s men led by Haowhenua bypassed the large colonial force in Waihī Redoubt and attacked nearby Turuturumōkai, which was

  • Page 6 – Crisis of confidence

    News of Te Kooti’s assault on Matawhero in Poverty Bay a few days after the defeat at Moturoa raised serious questions about the Armed Constabulary’s ability to protect

  • Page 7 – Taurangaika

    Taurangaika measured 140 m across at its widest point and was without doubt Tītokowaru’s ‘most formidable fortress’.

  • Page 8 – A return to peace

    In late 1869 Tītokowaru had his third conversion to peace, after which his relationship with Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi of Parihaka strengthened.

A history of New Zealand 1769-1914

  • A history of New Zealand 1769-1914

    In the period between the first European landings and the First World War, Aotearoa New Zealand was transformed from an exclusively Māori world into one in which Pākehā dominated numerically, politically, socially and economically.

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  • Page 1 - History of New Zealand, 1769-1914 In the period between the first European landings and the First World War, Aotearoa New Zealand was transformed from an exclusively Māori world into one in which Pākehā

New Zealand Wars

  • New Zealand Wars

    In this conversation, we will discuss a number of issues related to the relevance of our internal wars of the nineteenth century and whether they should be a part of core curriculum

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  • Page 1 - New Zealand Wars conversationsIn this conversation, we will discuss a number of issues related to the relevance of our internal wars of the nineteenth century and whether they should be a part of core

The Treaty in practice

  • The Treaty in practice

    Amalgamating Māori into colonial settler society was a key part of British policy in New Zealand after 1840. Economic and social change, along with land-purchase programmes, were central to this process.

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  • Page 8 – The Waikato-Tainui claim

    The Waikato-Tainui people and the Crown signed a Deed of Settlement in 1995. It included a formal apology for Crown actions in the wars of the 1860s that had brought

Treaty timeline

The Vogel era

  • The Vogel era

    In 1870, Colonial Treasurer Julius Vogel launched the most ambitious development programme in New Zealand’s history. The ‘Vogel era’ was a decisive moment in New Zealand’s 19th-century transformation from a Māori world to a Pākehā one.

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  • Page 2 - New Zealand in 1870Three decades after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s two main islands were like two different


  • Maniapoto, Rewi Manga

    A famous Ngāti Maniapoto warrior, leader and supporter of the King Movement who's exploits in the Waikato War have been immortalised in book and film.

  • Matua, Hēnare

    Ngāti Kahungunu chief Hēnare Matua was leader of the repudiation movement, which questioned land sales that it believed had been undertaken fraudulently.

  • Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki

    Te Kooti fought on the government side in the New Zealand Wars before being exiled to the Chatham Islands on charges of espionage. He later escaped back to the mainland and fought a long guerilla war against government forces.

  • Te Rangitake

    Te Ati Awa leader Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke's refusal to give up his land at Waitara led to the outbreak of the Taranaki War. In later life joined the pacifist community at Parihaka.

  • Te Whiti-o-Rongomai III, Erueti

    Te Whiti was a Taranaki leader and prophet. A resistance movement based at Parihaka was led by him and Tohu Kākahi. Te Whiti was arrested following the infamous raid on Parihaka by Armed Constabulary in 1881.

  • Wahawaha, Rāpata

    Ngāti Porou leader Rāpata Wahawaha opposed the Pai Mārire religion and sided with the government against its followers. He was later presented with a ceremonial sword by Queen Victoria for services to the Crown during the New Zealand Wars.

  • Browne, Thomas Robert Gore

    Biography of Colonial Governor and Soldier, Thomas Gore Browne

  • Mair, Gilbert

    Served with distinction during the New Zealand Wars. Played a leading role in campaigns against Te Kooti, commanding an irregular contingent of loyalist Māori known as the Arawa Flying Column.

  • Richmond, James Crowe

    James Crowe Richmond, elected member of Parliament in 1860, believed it vital to defeat Māori opposition to European settlement. 

  • Whitaker, Frederick

    Despite Frederick Whitaker’s advanced views on electoral reform, this two-time premier tarnished his reputation by land speculation and confiscation.

  • Cowan, James

    Biography of prolific historian and journalist best known for the two-volume The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Māori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period

  • Cameron, Duncan Alexander

    The historian James Belich believed Cameron was not only the best European commander to serve in New Zealand but ‘among the best of Victorian generals’.

  • Whitmore, George Stoddart

    From 1866 George Whitmore became substantively involved in the New Zealand wars, leading the colonial forces in no fewer than seven distinct campaigns against an incursive Hauhau force, Te Kooti and Titokowaru’s forces.

  • Tempsky, Gustavus Ferdinand von

    Although he spent only six years in this country, the adventurous soldier Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky was one of 19th-century New Zealand's most colourful characters.

  • Williams, William

    An early missionary and linguist, William Williams later came to criticise the government's dealings during the New Zealand Wars.

  • Tītokowaru, Riwha

    Ngā Ruahine prophet, military leader, master tactician, peacemaker and Parihaka supporter, Tītokowaru was one of New Zealand's most important nineteenth-century figures.


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