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Musket Wars

Page 1 – Introduction

Thousands of Māori died in the intertribal Musket Wars of the 1810s, 1820s and 1830s. Many more were enslaved or became refugees. Northern rivals Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Whātua led the way, but all the tribes were soon trading for muskets.

Muskets (ngutu pārera) changed the face of intertribal warfare, decimating some tribes and drastically altering the rohe (territorial boundaries) of others. By the 1830s campaigns had become too costly. With European diseases also taking a heavy toll, warfare gave way to economic rivalry.

By this time thousands had fled their traditional lands, complicating questions of ownership and freeing large areas for potential Pākehā (European) settlement. 

How to cite this page

The Musket Wars, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated