Classroom ideas - Maori leadership in the 19th century

This page outlines how the feature The Maori King movement 1860-94 could be used by teachers and students of history who are examining 19th century Maori leadership. Additional material on NZHistory.net.nz to support a study of Maori leadership includes: 

  • The origins of the King movement This feature examines why some Maori felt the need to create a movement aimed at uniting iwi and looks at the process of selecting the first king.
  • Pai Marire This feature looks at another form of Maori leadership that emerged in response to British colonisation.
  • Pre-1840 contact This looks at relations between Maori and Europeans in the years before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and provides useful background information to the British colonisation of New Zealand.
  • New Zealand's 19th-century wars considers some of the consequences of British colonisation.

Students will find that these summaries will assist them with revision.

The Kingitanga

The Kingitanga, or Maori King movement, is an important and enduring expression of Maori unity. The Maori King, Te Arikinui Tuheitia Paki, can trace his position as king back to the 1850s when tribes from all over the country discussed the notion of appointing a king. The Kingitanga developed in response to pressure on Maori to sell land, which occurred because of rapid European population growth. There was a sense that Maori were losing control of their own affairs. In the Waikato War of the 1860s the government attempted to destroy the movement, which it considered a threat to the authority of the British Crown. The movement survived, despite many set backs, including the confiscation of land.

NCEA Level 2 history

This feature can be used to explore the theme of 'Imperialism, indigenous peoples and the emergence of new nations' and its associated topic of 'Maori leadership of the 19th century'. The lives of people living in New Zealand in the 19th century, especially Maori, were greatly influenced by a number of major forces including:

  • nationalism
  • imperialism
  • colonisation
  • religion
  • racism
  • war
  • colonialism
  • sovereignty.

In responding to these forces new movements and forms of leadership emerged, with the Kingitanga being a prime example.

This material provides students with a context for:

  • Achievement standard 2.5: Examine how a force or movement in a historical setting influenced people's lives, in an essay.

For more detail on specific activities relating to this topic go to Maori leadership in the 19th century activities – NCEA Level 2 history.

NCEA Level 3 history

The establishment of the Kingitanga, the appointment of the first king in 1858 and the response to its formation are critical elements in the broad survey of 19th century New Zealand.

In the Waikato War of the 1860s the government attempted to destroy the movement, which it considered a threat to the authority of the British Crown. In the aftermath of the war, the confiscation of land and operation of the Native Land Court transformed New Zealand from a Maori world to a European one. However, the Kingitanga showed great resilience in surviving this turmoil and emerged from a period of isolation in the closing decade of the 19th century.

This material provides students with a context for:

  • Achievement standard 3.4: Examine a significant decision made by people in history, in an essay.
  • Achievement standard 3.5: Examine a significant historical situation in the context of change, in an essay.
For more detail on specific activities relating to this topic go to Maori leadership in the 19th century activities – NCEA Level 3 history.
How to cite this page

'Classroom ideas - Maori leadership in the 19th century', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/maori-king-movement-1860-94/classroom-ideas-for-teachers-and-students, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-Aug-2012

Community contributions

2 comment has been posted about Classroom ideas - Maori leadership in the 19th century

What do you know?

David Lincoln

Posted: 04 Mar 2013

how much authority did the kingitanga hold in the very early formation. why was it formed?