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The New Zealand Wars 1820–72

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Between 1845 and 1872, various groups of Maori - the Polynesian people who had inhabited New Zealand since medieval times - were involved in a series of wars of resistance against British settlers, which in many ways mirrored the American Indian Wars. Like some Native Americans, the Maori had a fierce and long-established warrior tradition (epitomized today by the intimida Between 1845 and 1872, various groups of Maori - the Polynesian people who had inhabited New Zealand since medieval times - were involved in a series of wars of resistance against British settlers, which in many ways mirrored the American Indian Wars. Like some Native Americans, the Maori had a fierce and long-established warrior tradition (epitomized today by the intimidating haka war-challenge performed by the All Blacks rugby team), and lived in tribal communities dispersed throughout rough and thickly wooded terrain. Subduing them took a lengthy British Army commitment, only surpassed in the Victorian period by that on the North-West Frontier of India. Warfare had been endemic in pre-colonial New Zealand - in contests over territory and group prestige, and in generations-long feuds - and Maori groups maintained fortified villages or pas. The small early British coastal settlements, also widely dispersed, were tolerated, and in the 1820s a chief named Hongi Hika travelled to Britain with a missionary and returned laden with gifts. He promptly exchanged these for muskets, and began an aggressive 15-year expansion at the expense of neighbouring tribes. When new waves of major British settlement arrived between the 1840s and 1860s, competition over the available productive land caused increased friction and clashes. British troops were shipped in, and fought a series of essentially local wars in both North and South Islands over more than 25 years. However, some Maori groups always allied themselves with the Europeans, in pursuit of ancient enmities with their neighbours. By the 1860s many Maori had acquired firearms and had perfected their bush-warfare tactics. Their defences also evolved, with conspicuous log fortifications giving way to deep entrenchments less visible and vulnerable to artillery. The British, too, were adapting their uniforms, equipment and tactics to broken-country fighting in the bush, and employing more portable artillery and mortars. In the last phase of the wars a religious movement, Pai Maarire ('Hau Hau'), inspired remarkable guerrilla leaders such as Te Kooti Arikirangi to renewed resistance. This final phase saw a reduction in British Army forces as operations were increasingly taken over by locally recruited constabulary and militia units. European victory was not total, but led to a negotiated peace that preserved some of the Maori people's territories and freedoms; in modern times this has allowed a real (if sometimes strained) progress towards a genuinely unified national identity.


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Between 1845 and 1872, various groups of Maori - the Polynesian people who had inhabited New Zealand since medieval times - were involved in a series of wars of resistance against British settlers, which in many ways mirrored the American Indian Wars. Like some Native Americans, the Maori had a fierce and long-established warrior tradition (epitomized today by the intimida Between 1845 and 1872, various groups of Maori - the Polynesian people who had inhabited New Zealand since medieval times - were involved in a series of wars of resistance against British settlers, which in many ways mirrored the American Indian Wars. Like some Native Americans, the Maori had a fierce and long-established warrior tradition (epitomized today by the intimidating haka war-challenge performed by the All Blacks rugby team), and lived in tribal communities dispersed throughout rough and thickly wooded terrain. Subduing them took a lengthy British Army commitment, only surpassed in the Victorian period by that on the North-West Frontier of India. Warfare had been endemic in pre-colonial New Zealand - in contests over territory and group prestige, and in generations-long feuds - and Maori groups maintained fortified villages or pas. The small early British coastal settlements, also widely dispersed, were tolerated, and in the 1820s a chief named Hongi Hika travelled to Britain with a missionary and returned laden with gifts. He promptly exchanged these for muskets, and began an aggressive 15-year expansion at the expense of neighbouring tribes. When new waves of major British settlement arrived between the 1840s and 1860s, competition over the available productive land caused increased friction and clashes. British troops were shipped in, and fought a series of essentially local wars in both North and South Islands over more than 25 years. However, some Maori groups always allied themselves with the Europeans, in pursuit of ancient enmities with their neighbours. By the 1860s many Maori had acquired firearms and had perfected their bush-warfare tactics. Their defences also evolved, with conspicuous log fortifications giving way to deep entrenchments less visible and vulnerable to artillery. The British, too, were adapting their uniforms, equipment and tactics to broken-country fighting in the bush, and employing more portable artillery and mortars. In the last phase of the wars a religious movement, Pai Maarire ('Hau Hau'), inspired remarkable guerrilla leaders such as Te Kooti Arikirangi to renewed resistance. This final phase saw a reduction in British Army forces as operations were increasingly taken over by locally recruited constabulary and militia units. European victory was not total, but led to a negotiated peace that preserved some of the Maori people's territories and freedoms; in modern times this has allowed a real (if sometimes strained) progress towards a genuinely unified national identity.

34 review for The New Zealand Wars 1820–72

  1. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    Like all of the Osprey books this is a fine introduction to the subject, but doesn't ultimately offer a massive amount of detail. This book provides overviews of the New Zealand wars themselves, traditional Maori martial culture, changes in Maori fighting tactics, the British imperial forces in NZ, and NZ militia, volunteers, and constabulary. Like all of the Osprey books this is a fine introduction to the subject, but doesn't ultimately offer a massive amount of detail. This book provides overviews of the New Zealand wars themselves, traditional Maori martial culture, changes in Maori fighting tactics, the British imperial forces in NZ, and NZ militia, volunteers, and constabulary.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John Somers

    15/20.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sean Chick

    A pretty good discussion of the New Zealand Wars, the armies, and their tactics. I would give it five stars, but there is not much on British tactics as compared to Maori and militia parts.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stan Dolan

  5. 4 out of 5

    Frédéric

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nev

  9. 4 out of 5

    Murray Beckman

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    A few erroneous spellings of Maori names (Te Ruaparaha instead of Te Rauparaha), but on the whole an informative pamphlet on the surface details of the New Zealand Wars. There are plenty of visual materials provided to complement the accessible writing. Ideal for junior high school students or those wanting to dip their toes into this era of NZ's history. A few erroneous spellings of Maori names (Te Ruaparaha instead of Te Rauparaha), but on the whole an informative pamphlet on the surface details of the New Zealand Wars. There are plenty of visual materials provided to complement the accessible writing. Ideal for junior high school students or those wanting to dip their toes into this era of NZ's history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    TIMOTHY R BEYERSDORF

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Fetzer

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ethan Tucker

  14. 4 out of 5

    James Dalziel

  15. 5 out of 5

    Garrett Olinde

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jur

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Intrepid86

  20. 4 out of 5

    Annelisa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Cisco

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julio Campos

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  25. 4 out of 5

    Holly Fry

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sheree

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pedro

  28. 4 out of 5

    Simon

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rollspelaren

  30. 4 out of 5

    Corey

  31. 5 out of 5

    James

  32. 4 out of 5

    Bret

  33. 5 out of 5

    Nat

  34. 5 out of 5

    Pws1

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