Story: New Zealand Wars

Arthur Wakefield and Te Rangihaeata

Arthur Wakefield and Te Rangihaeata

Arthur Wakefield (left) and Ngāti Toa leader Te Rangihaeata (right) were leading protagonists in an armed engagement which was a foretaste of the New Zealand Wars. The New Zealand Company had established a settlement led by Wakefield in Nelson in 1842. With little agricultural land available nearby, the settlers looked to the Wairau valley, which the company believed it had purchased. Rangatira of Ngāti Toa, especially Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata, disputed this and removed a surveyors’ hut. On 17 June 1843, Wakefield, Nelson’s police magistrate and a leading figure in the New Zealand Company, led a force of almost 50 armed settlers to execute arrest warrants against Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata. When shooting broke out, possibly accidentally, a stray shot killed Te Rongo, the wife of Te Rangihaeata. At least four Māori and 22 settlers (including Wakefield) died, with nine of the Pākehā killed as utu for the death of Te Rongo. Richard Aldworth Oliver’s c. 1850 painting of Te Rangihaeata shows him holding a mere which had belonged to Te Rauparaha.

Using 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.

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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