The New Zealand Wars 1820–72

The New Zealand Wars 1820–72

Men-at-Arms 487
  • Author: Ian Knight
  • Illustrator: Raffaele Ruggeri
  • Short code: MAA 487
  • Publication Date: 20 Mar 2013
  • Number of Pages: 48
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About this Product

Between 1845 and 1872, various groups of Maori were involved in a series of wars of resistance against British settlers. The Maori had a fierce and long-established warrior tradition and 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 and Maori groups maintained fortified villages or pas. The small early British coastal settlements 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. By the 1860s many Maori had acquired firearms and had perfected their bush-warfare tactics. 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. European victory was not total, but led to a negotiated peace that preserved some of the Maori people's territories and freedoms.

Biographical Note

Ian Knight is a leading international expert on colonial-era warfare, notably the Anglo-Zulu War. He has written, co-written or edited over 30 books, many for Osprey, including FOR 081 Maori Fortifications.


Introduction: pre-colonial Maori society and warfare
The musket wars: from early 18th-century white contacts, to Hongi Hika's wars of expansion in 1820-35
The wars of conquest, 1840s: Hone Heke's campaigns - British forces in New Zealand: infantry, artillery, engineers, Naval Brigade
The 1860s campaigns: British tactical adaptations - assaults on fortified positions - Maori responses
1865-72: the Pai Maarire movement - guerrilla warfare - Te Kooti Arikirangi's campaigns - local Volunteer, Militia and Constabulary units - pro-government Maori groups
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