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New Zealand Land Wars

The New Zealand or Land Wars were a series of wars fought between Māori on one side and a mixture of settler troops, imperial troops and other Māori on the other. What the wars were 'about' has been debated by historians, with Keith Sinclair arguing that they were about land, while James Belich has argued that although land was a major factor, the wars were essentially a contest over sovereignty. This debate is reflected in the naming of the wars: there is no real consensus over whether they should be called the 'New Zealand Wars' or the 'Land Wars', although Belich's television series about the conflict has popularised the former term. The name 'Māori Wars' has fallen into disuse. A Māori name for the conflict is 'Te Riri Pākehā' (white man's anger). While the fighting began in 1843 and the last shots were arguably fired in the early twentieth century, the bulk of fighting took place in the 1860s.
The first skirmish of the New Zealand Wars was the 1843 Wairau Affray at the north end of the South Island. It was an isolated incident caused by the Nelson settlers trying to seize land they did not own, an extra-legal vigilante action that resulted in twenty-two of them being killed. The Flagstaff or Northern War took place in the far north of New Zealand, around the Bay of Islands, in March 1845 and January 1846. This was about mana—tribal prestige—and customs duties. It was really a war between rival Māori chiefs with the British fighting on one side for the prestige of the British Empire. This was followed almost immediately by the Hutt Valley Campaign, March to August 1846, and the Wanganui Campaign, April to July 1847, in the south-west of the North Island. Both these conflicts were about the encroachment of the European settlers onto Māori land. In the first three wars Māori fought the British to a standstill each time. From the engagements emerged an understanding: English law prevailed in the townships and settlements, and Māori law and customs elsewhere. There followed a period of relative peace and economic cooperation from 1848 to 1860.
During this time European settlement accelerated and in about 1859 the number of Pākehā came to equal the number of Māori, at around 60,000 each. By now Pākehā had largely forgotten the painful lessons of the earlier conflicts. They tried to use military might to push through a very dubious land sale that the courts later repudiated. The result was the First Taranaki War. Once again the local British forces were more than evenly matched by Māori, and after twelve months both sides were happy to settle for a draw.
However this was clearly just a preliminary. The British settlers were not prepared to countenance Māori controlling and ruling most of the land in the North Island. War broke out again in 1863 with the Invasion of the Waikato. The Waikato War, including the Tauranga Campaign, was the biggest of all the New Zealand Wars. The outcome of this war was the major confiscation of land owned by Māori, which quickly provoked the Second Taranaki War. By the mid 1860s the conflict had forced the closing of all the native schools.
The period from the second half of 1864 until early 1868 was relatively quiet. Possibly the most notorious incident during this time was the murder of the missionary Carl Volkner. There were also two serious intra-tribal conflicts, civil wars in Māori tribes, between adherents and non-adherents of the Pai Marire or Hau Hau sect—a vehemently anti-Pākehā religious group which was intent upon balancing the developing unbalanced cooperation between the Māori and Pākehā. These are sometimes known as the East Cape War, but that label oversimplifies a complicated series of conflicts. The last major conflicts were Te Kooti's War and Titokowaru's War. These were fought at the same time but were not related to each other and should be considered as separate conflicts. This ended the major, violent conflicts between the new colonial government and the original occupants of the land.
There were subsequently other conflicts and incidents that were a part of the overall conflict, but are not usually seen in the context of the New Zealand Wars. The invasion of Parihaka in 1881 was certainly one of these. There was an incident in the 1890s that became known as the Dog Tax War. Another was the arrest of Rua Kenana in 1916. It is even possible that events at Bastion Point in the 1970s should be considered as part of the same scenario.

(Source Wikipedia)