Story: New Zealand Wars

Books about the New Zealand Wars

Books about the New Zealand Wars

As these book covers with their varied titles suggest, there has been considerable debate about what to call the New Zealand Wars. Each name makes different assumptions about the meaning of the conflicts. In the 19th century they were known among Pākehā as the ‘Māori Wars’, or occasionally the ‘Māori rebellion’ or ‘Māori troubles’ – names reflecting the assumption that Māori were the perpetrators. The Māori equivalent was ‘Te Riri Pākehā’ (the white man’s anger), which saw European settlers as the guilty party. Later names such as ‘Māori–European wars’ and ‘Anglo–Māori wars’ attempted to indicate the groups involved. However, Māori fought on both sides. The term ‘Land Wars’ suggested a major cause of the wars – but they were about more than land, and in the Northern War land was not the major issue. ‘New Zealand Wars’ remains the most neutral and accurate name.

Courtesy of Hachette New Zealand, Penguin Group (NZ) Ltd and Auckland University Press

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How to cite this page:

Danny Keenan, 'New Zealand Wars - New Zealand Wars overview', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 April 2024)

Story by Danny Keenan, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 29 Nov 2022