Hume Nisbet's The rebel chief (1896) was just one of a cluster of 19th-century novels set in the New Zealand wars of the 1860s and 1870s. The plot revolves around conflict between 'Europeanised' Māori, who fight on the government side, and pure, uncorrupted 'rebels' who have remained true to their traditional culture and fight to defend this. The two sides engage in bloody fighting, which culminates in cannibalism. A group of British people, comprising a missionary, a general and settlers, intervene and restore peace, implying that British intervention is the only way of achieving law and order within Māori society.
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Alexander Turnbull Library
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