Tens of thousands of Maori died in the nationwide intertribal Musket Wars of the 1810s, 1820s and 1830s. Thousands more were enslaved or became refugees. Muskets (ngutu parera) changed the face of intertribal warfare. In addition to the numbers killed and enslaved these conflicts drastically shifted the boundaries of areas that other iwi controlled.

The validity of the term ‘musket wars' has become a source of historical debate. Some historians argue that the musket contributed to Maori history rather than determined it and that these wars would have occurred regardless of European contact- the musket was merely a new tool.

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