Story: New Zealand wars

Arthur Wakefield and Te Rangihaeata

Arthur Wakefield and Te Rangihaeata

Arthur Wakefield (left) and Te Rangihaeata (right) were leading protagonists in an armed engagement which was a foretaste of things to come in the New Zealand wars. The New Zealand Company had established a settlement in Nelson in 1842, led by Wakefield. However, there was little available agricultural land in the Nelson area, so the company settlers looked to the Wairau valley, which they believed they had purchased. Ngāti Toa chiefs, especially Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata, disputed this and burnt down a surveyor's hut in the valley. On 17 June 1843 Arthur Wakefield led a force of almost 50 armed settlers to execute a warrant of arrest against Ngāti Toa. A stray shot killed Te Rangihaeata's wife, Te Rongo. There was a further exchange of shots, and in the end 22 settlers, including Wakefield, and at least four Māori died. Richard Aldworth Oliver's painting of Te Rangihaeata shows him holding a mere (club) which had originally belonged to Te Rauparaha.

About this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/2-018885-F (left); PUBL-0032-1 (right)

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Danny Keenan, 'New Zealand wars - New Zealand wars overview', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 June 2017)

Story by Danny Keenan, published 20 Jun 2012