Pākehā is a Māori language term for New Zealanders who are “of European descent”. Recently, the word has been used to refer inclusively either tofair-skinned persons or any non-Māori New Zealander. Papa’a has a similar meaning in Cook Islands Māori.

Its etymology is unclear, but the term was in use by the late 18th century, and in December 1814, the Māori children at Rangihoua in the Bay Of Islands were “no less eager to see the packaha than the grown folks”.  In the Māori language, plural nouns of Pākehā may include Ngā Pākehā (definite article) and He Pākehā (indefinite article). When the word was first adopted, the usual plural in English was Pakehas. However New Zealand English speakers are increasingly removing the terminal s and treating Pākehā as a collective noun.

Opinions of the term vary amongst New Zealanders. Some find it highly offensive, others are indifferent, some find it inaccurate and archaic, while some happily use the term and find the main alternatives such as “New Zealand European” inappropriate. In 2013, the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study carried out by The University of Auckland found no evidence that the word was derogatory, although only 14% of the overall respondents chose the term Pākehā with the remainder preferring New Zealander, New Zealand European or simply Kiwi.


Māori in the Bay of Islands and surrounding districts had no doubts about the meaning of the word pākehā in the 19th century. In 1831, thirteen rangatirafrom the far north of the country met at Kerikeri to compose a letter to King William IV, seeking protection from the French, “the tribe of Marion”. Written inMāori, the letter used the word pākehā to mean “British European”, and the words tau iwi to mean “strangers (non-British)” — as shown in the translation that year of the letter from Māori to English by the missionary William Yate. Māori also used other terms such as tupua (“supernatural”, “object of fear, strange being”), kehua (“ghosts”), and maitai (“metal” or referring to persons “foreign”) to refer to some of the earliest visitors.

However, The Concise Māori Dictionary (Kāretu, 1990) defines the word pākehā as “foreign, foreigner (usually applied to white person)”, while theEnglish–Māori, Māori–English Dictionary (Biggs, 1990) defines Pākehā as “white (person)”. Sometimes the term applies more widely to include all non-Māori. No Māori dictionary cites pākehā as derogatory. Some early European settlers who lived among Māori became known as Pākehā Māori.


The etymology of Pākehā is unknown, although the most likely sources are the words pākehakeha or pakepakehā, which refer to mythical human-like creatures, with fair skin and hair, sometimes described as having come from the sea. When Europeans first arrived they rowed to shore in longboats, facing backwards while rowing the boats to shore. In traditional Māori canoes or “waka”, paddlers face the direction of travel. This is supposed to have led to the belief that the sailors were supernatural beings.

In her book The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: The Remarkable Story of Captain Cook’s Encounters in the South Seas, anthropologist Anne Salmond wrote that tribal traditions held that Toiroa, a tohunga from Mahia, had predicted the coming of the Europeans. He said “ko te pakerewha”, meaning “it is the pakerewha”, red and white strangers.

There have been several dubious interpretations given to the word Pākehā by people aiming to discredit it as a term. One claims that it derives from poaka the Māori word for (pig), and keha, one of the Māori words for (flea), and therefore expresses derogatory implications. There is no etymological or linguistic support for this notion — like all Polynesian languages, Māori is generally very conservative in terms of vowels; it would be extremely unusual for ‘pā-‘ to derive from ‘poaka’. The more common Māori word for flea is puruhi. It is also sometimes claimed that ‘Pakeha’ means white pig or unwelcome white stranger. However, no part of the word signifies “pig”, “white”, “unwelcome”, or “stranger”.

Attitudes to the term

New Zealanders of European ancestry vary in their attitude toward the word “Pākehā” as applied to themselves. Some embrace it wholeheartedly as a sign of their connection to New Zealand, in contrast to the European identity of their forebears. Still others find the term as being predominantly a relational term, and as archaic as calling Māori “natives”, while also lacking any meaningful description of cultural roots. It is commonly used by a range of journalists and columnists from the New Zealand Herald, New Zealand’s largest-circulation daily newspaper. Others object to the word, some strongly, claiming it to be derogatory or to carry implications of being an outsider, this is often based on false information about the meaning of the term. Some believe being labelled as Pākehā compromises their status and their birthright links to New Zealand. A joint response code of “NZ European or Pakeha” was tried in the 1996 census, but was replaced by “New Zealand European” in later censuses because it drew what Statistics New Zealand described as a “significant adverse reaction from some respondents”. Sociologist Paul Spoonley criticised the new version, however, saying that many Pākehā would not identify as European.

The term Pākehā is also sometimes used among New Zealanders of European ancestry in distinction to the Māori term Tauiwi (foreigner), as an act of emphasising their claims of belonging to the space of New Zealand in contrast to more recent arrivals. Those who prefer to emphasise nationality rather than ethnicity in relating to others living in New Zealand may refer to all New Zealand citizens only as New Zealanders or Kiwis.

Historian Judith Binney called herself a Pākehā and said, “I think it is the most simple and practical term. It is a name given to us by Māori. It has no pejorative associations like people think it does — it’s a descriptive term. I think it’s nice to have a name the people who live here gave you, because that’s what I am.”

A survey in 2013 found no evidence that the word was used in a derogatory sense.


The point at which European settlers in New Zealand became Pākehā – or indeed New Zealanders – is subjective.

The first European settlers arrived in New Zealand in the early nineteenth century, but most were missionaries, traders and adventurers who did not intend to stay permanently. From the 1840s, following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the assumption of British sovereignty, large numbers of Europeans began to settle permanently in New Zealand. Most of these settlers were from Britain, with a disproportionate number coming from Scotland. There were also numerous settlers from Ireland and Northern and Central Europe.

In the late nineteenth century there were some moves towards cultural nationalism, and many Pākehā began to see themselves as different from people living in Britain. However, there were still strong ties to the ‘mother country’ (the United Kingdom, particularly England), which were maintained well into the twentieth century. Until some point in the mid twentieth century most Pākehā considered themselves to be both British and New Zealanders. Many Pākehā intellectuals migrated to Britain in order to pursue their careers as this was not possible in New Zealand. Notable expatriate Pākehā from this period include writer Katherine Mansfield and physicist Ernest Rutherford.

Pākehā ties with Britain were drastically weakened in the decades after World War II. Quicker, cheaper international travel allowed more Pākehā to visit and live in other countries, where they saw that they were different from the British and felt the need for a stronger national identity. In 1973, Britain joined the European Economic Community, cutting New Zealand off from free trade with its biggest market and leaving Pākehā feeling betrayed by the people they had thought of as their own. Meanwhile, Māori were becoming more assertive, especially about the value of their culture and their ownership over it. The Māori cultural renaissance made many Pākehā feel that they lacked a culture of their own, and from the 1970s numerous Pākehā writers and artists began to explore issues of Pākehā identity and culture. It was at this point that the word ‘Pākehā’ grew in popularity, although it remained controversial.

Cultural identity

In general, Pākehā continue to develop identities distinct from and complementary to those of their (often) British origins and those of the other Anglosphere nation-states such as Australia, the United States, Canada and Ireland, as well as Māori. As with most other settler societies, it can be said descriptively that Pākehā contemporary culture is an amalgam of cultural practices, tensions, and accommodations: British/European with some Māori and Polynesian influences and more recently wider cultural inputs, particularly from Chinese and other Far Eastern cultures. Some have also argued that especially modern Pākehā culture is defined by “shock entry” of Britain into the European Economic Community in 1975, which “[left] the descendants of the colonisers, the Anglo-Celtic majorities, seemingly abandoned and marooned in Australia and New Zealand”.

Christianity in New Zealand, despite its foreign origins, has also been shaped by Māori through movements such as the Ratana Church and Destiny Church, as well as their involvements in churches of European origin such as the Anglican Church. Where Pākehā identity is identified, commonly NZ kitsch and symbols from marketing such as the Chesdale Cheese men are used as signifiers, and might more appropriately be called “Kiwiana”.

Michael King, a leading writer on Pākehā identity, discussed the concept of distinct Pākehā practices and imaginations in his books: Being Pākehā (1985) and Being Pākehā Now (1999), and the edited collection, Pakeha: The Quest for Identity in New Zealand (1991), conceptualising Pākehā as New Zealand’s “second indigenous” culture.

In contrast, Maori art historian Jonathan Mane-Wheoki described Pākehā as “…the people who define themselves by what they are not. Who want to forget their origins, their history, their cultural inheritance — who want Maori, likewise, to deny their origins so that we can all start off afresh”

November 9, 2015 / by / in
Musket Wars

The Short Story


After Europeans brought muskets (long-barrelled, muzzle-loaded guns) to New Zealand, these guns were used in a series of battles between Māori tribes, mostly between 1818 and 1840. Around 20,000 people may have died from direct and indirect causes. Tribal boundaries were also changed by the musket wars.

Buying and using muskets

Tribes that wanted muskets had to increase production of pigs and potatoes, which were used as currency to pay for the guns. At first tribes had just a few muskets, which were mainly used to scare their opponents. Tribes then bought hundreds of muskets – meaning they had to work hard to produce enough pigs and potatoes. Once they had enough guns, work returned to normal.

Māori learnt tactics for using firearms, and designed pā to protect against musket attacks.


In 1807–8, despite having some muskets, Ngāpuhi were defeated in a battle with Ngāti Whātua (who used traditional weapons).

By about 1818 Ngāpuhi had significant numbers of muskets, and in 1821 the chief Hongi Hika returned from overseas with hundreds more. Over the next six years Ngāpuhi attacked and defeated Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāti Maru, Waikato, Te Arawa and Ngāti Whātua. In 1827 Hongi was shot in a battle. He died the following year from his injuries. After his death Ngāpuhi had less military impact.


In 1821 Waikato tribes expelled Ngāti Toa chief Te Rauparaha from Kāwhia after intertribal fighting. Waikato, led by Te Wherowhero, then attacked Ngāti Toa in Taranaki. In 1824 Waikato and Ngāti Tūwharetoa defeated Ngāti Kahungunu at Napier, and in 1826 Waikato invaded Taranaki, forcing some groups to move south. Waikato attacked Taranaki tribes again in the early 1830s.

Waikato ended the wars successfully. They defended their lands against northern invaders, and expelled other tribes.

Ngāti Toa

After Te Rauparaha and Ngāti Toa left Waikato, they moved first to north Taranaki and then to the Kapiti coast. They captured Kapiti Island and established a base there. In 1824 other tribal groups attacked the island but were defeated.

Te Rauparaha wanted to extend his trading strength by controlling pounamu (greenstone) in the South Island. From 1827 Ngāti Toa and their Te Āti Awa allies attacked southern tribes and captured much of the South Island.

Ngāti Toa allies Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama invaded the Chatham Islands in 1835. They conquered the Moriori and also fought each other.

The Musket Wars were a series of three thousand or more battles and raids fought in New Zealand and the Chatham Islands amongst Māori between 1807 and 1845, after Māori obtained muskets.

Northern tribes such as the rivals Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Whātua were the first to obtain firearms, and inflicted heavy casualties upon each other and on neighbouring tribes, some of whom had never seen muskets. The wars were characterised by their brutality and ruthlessness – with treachery, the burning of villages, killing of prisoners, torture, slavery, and cannibalism being commonplace.

The first occasion [of the use of the musket] appears to have been the defeat of a Ngāpuhi war party by Ngāti Whātua at Moremonui near Maunganui, between Hokianga and Kaipara harbours in 1807. In this instance, it was the Ngāpuhi who were equipped with muskets. But the Ngāti Whātua ambushed them with traditional weapons before Ngāpuhi had sufficient opportunity to load or reload.

— Michael King

Hongi Hika, who was later to lead Ngāpuhi raids across most of the northern North Island, saw two of his brothers killed in this debacle.

Hongi Hika actively sought muskets and other technology from the west. In 1814, as leader of the Ngāpuhi, Hongi went to Sydney and encouraged missionaries to establish themselves on his land. He went to England in March 1820 with the missionary Kendall. He met many people at Cambridge, including French adventurer “Baron” de Thierry, with whom he completed a land-for-guns transaction. On his return to New Zealand, with the aid of a large musket-based army, Hongi Hika captured many slaves. They were put to work producing cash crops that could be traded for muskets from passing ships. This gave the Ngāpuhi a huge advantage in subsequent wars, until other tribes also acquired muskets of their own. It is estimated that more than 18,500 Māori were killed along with about 1,636 Moriori who died on the Chatham Islands, from a population of only about 100,000.

These early intertribal conflicts caused much territory to be won and lost between various tribes, which complicated dealings with European settlers wishing to gain land. It also gave Māori experience in fighting with and defending against muskets, and may help explain why rebel Māori felt so confident in taking on the combined British and New Zealand forces in the New Zealand Land Wars in the 1860s.


Historian James Belich has suggested “Potato Wars” as a more accurate name for these battles, due to the revolution the potato brought to the Māori economy. Historian Angela Ballara says that new foods made some aspects of the wars different. Māori adopted potatoes which were introduced in 1769, and they became a key staple with better food-value for weight than kūmara (sweet potato), and easier cultivation and storage. Unlike the kūmara, potatoes were tillable by slaves and women and this freed up men to go to war.

Belich saw this as a logistical revolution; potatoes effectively fuelled the long range taua that made the Musket Wars different from any fighting that had come before. However it has been pointed out by Ballara that, in many respects, it was a continuation of traditional inter-iwi feuding that had produced such massive slaughter as the Battle of Hingakaka in either the late 18th or early 19th century (probably 1807) near Ohaupo, when about 8,000 warriors were killed by traditional weapons. Crosby favours the view that the reasons behind the multitude of conflict were based on traditional tikanga, especially the concept of utu or revenge. Revenge killings, war parties, cannibalism and the taking of slaves were nothing new but muskets allowed greater killing and initially, at least, a far greater chance of success against Maori with only traditional weapons.

Slaves captured during massive musket war raids were put to work tending potato patches, freeing up labour to create even larger taua. This can be seen in the progressive size of the war parties, starting at around one hundred and reaching one to two thousand within a few years. After 1832 the average size of the taua declined, until by 1836 they were as small as 120-200. The missionaries at Tauranga in 1839 recorded that 170 Ngati Haua warriors in five waka went to attack Maungatapu Pa.(Crosby P 338)

Additionally, the duration of the raids were longer by the 1820s; it was common for men to be away for up to a year. Because potatoes are not as sensitive to temperature in the “winterless” north as kūmara, it was easy to grow a series of crops.

Also American sailors had reintroduced the much larger fist-sized, American sweet potato, which quickly replaced the thumb-sized Māori kūmara. The availability of the potato and its ease of growing in a wide variety of climatic and soil conditions may have led to a rise in population, putting increasing pressure on a traditional Māori tribal structure that was geared towards a very tiny increase in population, i.e., far more healthy vigorous young men in the pā to challenge for positions of leadership.

Historian Angela Ballara presents evidence that the wars simply continued the traditional conflicts between and within the many hapū of New Zealand waged from about the mid 18th century. Ballara, in Taua, says the musket wars were fought for essentially the same reasons as pre-musket wars—mainly to do with mana, tapu and utu, only the weapons changed. Even at the end of the period in the mid-1840s Māori essentially followed the same tikanga or cultural war traditions as in the pre-musket 1700s. Both the earlier 1700 wars and the musket wars show that it was possible for various hapū to combine into a much larger taua under one or more leader for very long lengths of time—over a year, without regard to planting seasons or food supply for those left behind. Ballara commented that missionaries observed that in the north the warriors would leave the old and the young at home with very inadequate food—they had to forage for food as best as they could. As they had traditionally done, the warriors could expect to obtain food, weapons and other supplies from those defeated in attacks. The only new resource they sought in the musket wars were male slaves, rather than the traditional quest for female or child slaves[12] as in earlier times.

In the years of peak conflict between 1820 and 1833 there were as many as 10 major campaigns happening at the same time, covering virtually the whole of New Zealand. Nearly every iwi or hapu alliance produced a war leader such as Honi Hika, Patuone, Pomare, Te Waharoa, Te Heuheu, Wiremu Kingi, Te Momo, Te Rangihaeta, Te Rauparaha, Waka nene and Te Wherowhero who achieved considerable success in either attacking of defending, or both, during multiple campaigns. Crosby identifies 102 Maori war leaders who he classifies as “generals”

The account of a musket war expedition by Henry Williams

The most comprehensive written account of a war expedition or heke was written by missionary Henry Williams. This heke was a consequence of the so-called Girls’ War, which was a fight that occurred on the beach at Kororareka, Bay of Islands in March 1830 between northern and southern hapū within the Ngāpuhi iwi. Hengi, a chief of Whangaroa, was shot and killed while he attempted to stop the fighting. The duty of seeking revenge had passed to Mango and Kakaha, the sons of Hengi; they took the view that the death of their father should be acknowledged through a muru (war expedition to honour the death of an important chief), against tribes to the south. It was within Māori traditions to conduct a muru against tribes who had no involvement in the events that caused the death of the chief.

Mango and Kakaha did not commence the muru until January 1832. Henry Willams accompanied the first expedition, without necessarily believing that he could end the fighting, but with the intention of continuing to persuade the combatants as to Christian teaching of peace and goodwill. The journal of Henry Williams provides an extensive account of this expedition, In this expedition Mango and Kakaha were successful in fights on the Mercury Islands and Tauranga, with the muru continuing until late July 1832.

When the heke set out it had no leader and each group or toa set out with its own chief at its own pace and acted independently with no common leader or plan. Henry Williams accompanied the heke with the idea of preventing bloodshed, and so was able to document the haphazard and leisurely progress of the warriors going south. Much time was spent fishing and collecting fern root and by various hapū going off by themselves to carry out minor attacks. Although the first group had set off on 10 Dec, by 1 March the following year the heke had only reached Tairua.

Henry Williams estimated there were 600 fighting men plus a small number of women and children. Many of the waka carried cannon. On 7 March the 80-waka-strong fleet went to attack a pā at Otumoetai and exchanged long range fire with the pā. Henry Williams noted the casualness of the women and children in particular who paid little heed to the flying lead. Children dug up spent lead bullets as they fell. Traders in the cutter Fairey sold cannons, shot and powder to the Māori on credit.

On 3 April 1832 there was more fighting on a beach at Otumoetai and Ngāpuhi were victorious. After this the heke spluttered to a close with the majority groups returning to the north by the end of July though Titore did not return until 27 November 1832. Henry Williams noted that he returned with the heads of 14 enemy and three of his own kin. Henry Williams also noted that the Ngāpuhi had stopped fighting on Sunday, even though none of those taking part were Christian. Henry Williams wrote that the number of dead of attackers and defenders was about equal and that no people of rank had been killed. Ballara points out that most of the traditional rituals used in pre-musket days were in everyday use.

Chatham Islands

The Musket Wars extended past a Māori vs Māori conflict when the culturally distinct Moriori inhabitants of the Chatham Islands were invaded in 1835 by displaced Taranaki Māori from Wellington. The Chathams were chosen by the Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama because of the known pacifist nature of Moriori society.

Use of the musket by Māori

The largest battle by far in this period, Hingakaka in 1807, was fought between two opposing Maori alliances near modern Te Awamutu, with about 16,000 warriors estimated to have taken part in the battle. It can be considered the last of the non musket wars, but as late as about 1815 conflicts were mainly fought with traditional weapons, though very small numbers of muskets were present – often on just one side.

In 1820 missionary Thomas Kendall took Hongi Hika to Britain. Hongi Hika met the French adventurer Charles de Thierry in Cambridge and traded land in New Zealand for an estimated 500 muskets, plus shot and powder, swords and daggers. He uplifted the muskets at Port Jackson, Sydney on their return voyage on the Westmoreland, and Kendall himself was later involved in the musket trade and may have been party to the land /musket swap. The muskets may have been manufactured in Sydney which was making muskets at this time.

Generally, the musket did not affect the strategic aims of hapū in the 19th century. However, the tactics used were influenced especially where there was significant imbalance in the numbers of muskets being employed by one side against another. The musket slowly put an end to the traditional combat of Māori warfare using mainly hand weapons and increased the importance of coordinated group manoeuvre. The legendary one-on-one fights such asPotatau Te Wherowhero’s at the battle of Okoki in 1821 became rare. It can be contrasted with the death of Te Hiakai who, like many, was shot in the same battle.

Initially, the musket was a tool which inflicted “shock and awe” and enabled traditional and iron weapons to wreak bloody slaughter on a demoralised foe. However, by the 1830s equally well-armed taua engaged each other with varying degrees of success. Te Waharoa, leader of Ngāti Hauā, was particularly innovative in his use of musket-armed troops in the attack. Tactics he employed at the battle of Taumatawiwi (1830), such as covering fire, would be recognisable to a modern soldier.

Māori learnt most of their musket technology from the various Pākehā Māori who lived in the Bay of Islands and Hokianga area. Some of these men were skilled sailors well experienced in the use of muskets in battles at sea. Maori were not beyond customising their muskets; for example, some enlarged the touch holes which, while reducing muzzle velocity, increased rate of fire. Initially Maori found it very hard to obtain muskets as the missionaries refused to trade them or sell powder or shot. The Ngāpuhi put missionaries under intense pressure to repair muskets even at times threatening them with violence. Most muskets were initially obtained while in Australia. Hongi Hika obtained 500. Pakeha Maori such as Jacky Marmon were instrumental in obtaining muskets from trading ships in return for flax, timber and smoked heads. Most muskets sold were low quality, short barrel trade muskets, made cheaply in Birmingham with inferior steel and less precision in the action. The range and accuracy of a trade musket (40 m range) could not be compared with that of a proper military musket such as a Brown Bess or the later standard issue Enfield which required the less common fine grain black powder. Often Maori preferred the double barreled tupara (2 barrel) as they could fire twice before reloading. In some battles women were used to reload muskets while the men kept on fighting. Later this presented a problem for the British and colonial forces during the New Zealand Land Wars, when iwi would habitually keep women in the pā. Northern Maori, such as Ngāpuhi, learnt to speed load their muskets by holding three lead balls between the fingers of the left hand. The powder was premeasured in paper twists. When the powder was poured down the barrel, instead of using the ramrod which was slow and awkward, they thumped the butt on the ground. As the barrel was fouled by partly burnt powder residue, the warriors used progressively smaller balls. The muzzle velocity dropped as a result but the large balls could still cause severe wounds at close range. (p129 Cannibal Jack)

As well as using Pakeha-Maori as traders, some chiefs, such as Hongi Hika, used them as gunsmiths, as trade muskets in particular needed regular maintenance. Some, such as Jacky Marmon, became influential members of the hapū and participated in several wars such as the attack by Ngāpuhi on the twin Tamaki strongholds in what is now Panmure, in late September 1821.

Outcomes of the Musket Wars

The wars gave Māori experience in fighting with and defending against firearms. One important innovation was the “gunfighter’s pā”, which was designed to be defended with ranged weapons and to offer defenders protection against the firearms of the enemy This type of pā was later widely used in the New Zealand Land Wars, with extensive modifications to deal with the heavy artillery, superior numbers and discipline in attack of British troops. The experience in combat with modern weaponry given by the Musket Wars may help explain why Māori fared far better in the later New Zealand Land Wars than did most tribal peoples.

In time, all the tribes traded to obtain muskets and the conflict ultimately reached an uneasy stalemate after decimating the population of some tribes and drastically shifting the boundaries between areas controlled by various others. The wars themselves generally resolved themselves for various reasons. As Māori sought a way out of the cycle of violence the door was opened to Christianity. Some Māori were also willing to let the government bear the burden of seeking utu.

In the latter stages, as in the Howick-Otahuhu area in 1835-36, missionaries such as Henry Williams and William Fairburn were able to carry out negotiations between warring factions and purchase disputed land to put an end to conflict. At least 20,000 people died in these conflicts. In addition another 30,000 were enslaved or forced to migrate, according to Crosby, using the data of noted New Zealand demographer Ian Poole. This figure may have been as high as 80,000. Ballara points out it was common even in traditional times for a defeated hapū to flee their best land temporarily for up to two years but they usually returned when utu was satisfied and peace returned.

Crosby says over half of all iwi suffered major population loss through battle casualties, cannibalism, or enslavement (for instance, the Moriori in the Chatham Islands). A few iwi, for example Ngati Tumatakokiri in Nelson and Ngati Ira in Wellington were exterminated. In addition there were over 40 major migrations forced on iwi by conflict. Lands between Whangarei and Auckland isthmus was uninhabited in 1840 and to European eyes ownerless.

Perhaps the most important outcome of the musket wars was the bitter legacy of inter-hapū and -iwi mistrust stemming from the extreme violence with which they were fought. The constant use of treachery as a battlefield tactic, coupled with the enslavement of so many, left a long legacy of mistrust. The third to last battle of the Musket Wars was a few months before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. A taua (war party) from the Te Awamutu area attacked and slaughtered Arawa people (Rotorua area) and brought back 60 basket-loads of human flesh to eat.

The missionaries and Christian Maori were sickened and moved out of the pā to establish a separate missionary village. The penultimate battle was at Tauranga in 1842, when a Hauraki Iwi raiding toa attacked a pā. Chief Taraia claimed this was utu (revenge) for encroachment on his land and other issues. The Colonial Secretary Willoughby Shortland carried out an investigation and found two bodies had been eaten. Te Mutu, the defeated chief, told Shortland that if he caught Taraia he would eat him. Missionaries had been able to gain the trust of many iwi, while Māori remained wary of other iwi outside their rohe (area). By 1844 the conversion of Ngāpuhi chiefs resulted in a significant reduction incidents of intertribal warfare in the north. The last battle of the musket wars was fought by Te Heuheu of Tuwharetoa against Nga Rauru in 1844-45. This was the immediate background to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

Prohibition Measures

From 1845 after the rebellion of Hone Heke, the government enacted a number of laws to attempt to slow or stop the flow of muskets, gunpowder and other warlike stores into New Zealand. The first was the Arms, Gunpowder and other Warlike Stores Act. 13 Dec 1845. On 12 November 1846 the Arms Ordinance was passed. This was followed by the Gunpowder Ordinance Act August 1847. Penalties were severe with fines of 100-200 pounds for selling a musket to a native in 1848. These laws combined to put a stop to gunrunners selling muskets to Maori. To undermine the law the sellers spread rumours that it was a government plot to disarm Maori. Some chiefs however such as Tamati Ngapora of Ngati Mahuta at Mangere wanted the law passed in April 1856, to stop Maori killing each other. In June 1857 the government passed a law allowing people to have guns and powder for sporting purposes. This appears to have opened a flood of firearms into Maori communities. In November 1857, Lt Colonel Wynyard wrote to Governor Brown expressing his concern that this was allowing large quantities of weapons going to Maori, far beyond what was required for sporting purposes. He expressed concern that iwi would use the weapons to settle tribal squabbles with arms. Te Whero whero, the first Maori king, came to see to the governor at the same time and expressed his concern that so many weapons could be sold to volatile Maori. A Maori veteran of the Battle of Orakau 1864, told Members of Parliament that Maori had been collecting large quantities of weapons for years prior to the battle to protect their land against other tribes, not with the intention of fighting Europeans. After the Land Wars the government passed the Firearms Amendments Act 1869 making it illegal for any person to sell weapons to a Maori in rebellion. The only punishment was the death sentence.

November 9, 2015 / by / in
History of New Zealand


The history of New Zealand dates back at least 700 years to when it was discovered and settled by Polynesians, who developed a distinct Māori culture centred on kinship links and land. The first European explorer to sight New Zealand was Abel Janszoon Tasman on 13 December 1642. Captain James Cook, who reached New Zealand in October 1769 on the first of his three voyages, was the first European explorer to circumnavigate and map New Zealand.

From the late 18th century, the country was regularly visited by explorers and other sailors, missionaries, traders and adventurers. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and various Māori chiefs, bringing New Zealand into the British Empire and giving Māori equal rights with British citizens. There was extensive British settlement throughout the rest of the century. War and the imposition of a European economic and legal system led to most of New Zealand’s land passing from Māori to Pākehā (European) ownership, and most Māori subsequently became impoverished.

From the 1890s the New Zealand parliament enacted a number of progressive initiatives, including women’s suffrage and old age pensions. From the 1930s the economy was highly regulated and an extensive welfare state was developed. Meanwhile, Māori culture underwent a renaissance, and from the 1950s Māori began moving to the cities in large numbers. This led to the development of a Māori protest movement which in turn led to greater recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi in the late 20th century. In the 1980s the economy was largely deregulated and a number of socially liberal policies, such as decriminalisation of homosexuality, were put in place. Foreign policy involved support for Britain in the world wars, and close relations after 1940 with the United States and Australia. Foreign policy after 1980 became more independent especially in pushing for a nuclear-free region. Subsequent governments have generally maintained these policies, although tempering the free market ethos somewhat.

Polynesian foundation


Māori whānau from Rotorua in the 1880s. Many aspects of Western life and culture, including European clothing and architecture, became incorporated into Māori society during the 19th century.

New Zealand was originally settled by Polynesians from Eastern Polynesia. The most current reliable evidence strongly indicates that initial settlement of New Zealand occurred around 1280 CE. Previous dating of some Kiore (Polynesian rat) bones at 50 – 150 CE has now been shown to have been unreliable; new samples of bone (and now also of unequivocally rat-gnawed woody seed cases) match the 1280 CE date of the earliest archaeological sites and the beginning of sustained, anthropogenic deforestation.

The descendants of these settlers became known as the Māori, forming a distinct culture of their own. The separate settlement of the tiny Chatham Islands in the east of New Zealand about 1500 CE produced the Moriori people; linguistic evidence indicates that the Moriori were mainland Māori who ventured eastward.

The original settlers quickly exploited the abundant large game in New Zealand, such as moa, large flightless ratites that were pushed to extinction by about 1500. As moa and other large game became scarce or extinct, Māori culture underwent major change, with regional differences. In areas where it was possible to grow taro and kūmara, horticulture became more important. This was not possible in the south of the South Island, but wild plants such as fernroot were often available and cabbage trees were harvested and cultivated for food. Warfare also increased in importance, reflecting increased competition for land and other resources. In this period, fortified pā became more common, although there is debate about the actual frequency of warfare. As elsewhere in the Pacific, cannibalism was part of warfare.

Leadership was based on a system of chieftainship, which was often but not always hereditary, although chiefs (male or female) needed to demonstrate leadership abilities to avoid being superseded by more dynamic individuals. The most important units of pre-European Māori society were the whānau or extended family, and the hapū or group of whānau. After these came the iwi or tribe, consisting of groups of hapū. Related hapū would often trade goods and co-operate on major projects, but conflict between hapū was also relatively common. Traditional Māori society preserved history orally through narratives, songs, and chants; skilled experts could recite the tribal genealogies (whakapapa) back for hundreds of years. Arts included whaikōrero (oratory), song composition in multiple genres, dance forms including haka, as well as weaving, highly developed wood carving, and tā moko (tattoo).

Birds, fish and sea mammals were important sources of protein.  Māori cultivated food plants which they had brought with them from Polynesia, including sweet potatoes (called kūmara), taro, gourds, and yams. They also cultivated the cabbage tree, a plant endemic to New Zealand, and exploited wild foods such as fern root, which provided a starchy paste.

Explorers and other visitors


First map of New Zealand, drawn by Captain James Cook.

The first Europeans known to reach New Zealand were the crew of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who arrived in his ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen. Tasman anchored at the northern end of the South Island in Golden Bay (he named it Murderers’ Bay) in December 1642 and sailed northward to Tonga following a clash with local Māori. Tasman sketched sections of the two main islands’ west coasts. Tasman called them Staten Landt, after the States-General of the Netherlands, and that name appeared on his first maps of the country. In 1645 Dutch cartographers changed the name to Nova Zeelandia in Latin, from Nieuw Zeeland, after the Dutch province of Zeeland. It was subsequently Anglicised as New Zealand by British naval captain James Cook of HM Bark Endeavour who visited the islands more than 100 years after Tasman during 1769–1770. Cook returned to New Zealand on both of his subsequent voyages.

Various claims have been made that New Zealand was reached by other non-Polynesian voyagers before Tasman, but these are not widely accepted. Peter Trickett, for example, argues in Beyond Capricorn that the Portuguese explorer Cristóvão de Mendonça reached New Zealand in the 1520s, and the Tamil bell discovered by missionary William Colenso has given rise to a number of theories, but historians generally believe the bell ‘is not in itself proof of early Tamil contact with New Zealand’.

From the 1790s, the waters around New Zealand were visited by British, French and American whaling, sealing and trading ships. Their crews traded European goods, including guns and metal tools, for Māori food, water, wood, flax and sex. Māori were reputed to be enthusiastic and canny traders. Although there were some conflicts, such as the killing of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne and the destruction of the Boyd, most contact between Māori and European was peaceful. From the early 19th century missionaries began settling in New Zealand and attempting to convert Māori to Christianity and control the considerably lawless European visitors.

Māori response

The effect of contact on Māori varied. In some inland areas life went on more or less unchanged, although a European metal tool such as a fish-hook or hand axe might be acquired through trade with other tribes. At the other end of the scale, tribes that frequently encountered Europeans, such as Ngā Puhi in Northland, underwent major changes.

Pre-European Māori had no distance weapons except for tao (spears) and the introduction of the musket had an enormous impact on Māori warfare. Tribes with muskets would attack tribes without them, killing or enslaving many. As a result, guns became very valuable and Māori would trade huge quantities of goods for a single musket. For over two decades the Musket Wars raged until a new balance of power was achieved after most tribes had acquired muskets. In 1835, the peaceful Moriori of the Chatham Islands were attacked, enslaved, and nearly exterminated by mainland Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama Māori. In the 1901 census, only 35 Moriori were recorded although the numbers subsequently increased.

Around this time, many Māori converted to Christianity. The reasons for this have been hotly debated, and may include social and cultural disruption caused by the Musket Wars and European contact. Other factors may have been the appeal of a religion that promotes peace and forgiveness, a desire to emulate the Europeans and to gain a similar abundance of material goods, and the Māori’s polytheistic culture that easily accepted the new God.

European settlement

European settlement increased through the early decades of the 19th century, with numerous trading stations established, especially in the North. The first full-blooded European infant in the territory, Thomas King, was born in 1815 in the Bay of Islands. Kerikeri, founded in 1822, and Bluff founded in 1823, both claim to be the oldest European settlements in New Zealand.

Many Europeans bought land from Māori, but misunderstanding and different concepts of land ownership led to conflict and bitterness. In 1839, the New Zealand Company announced plans to buy large tracts of land and establish colonies in New Zealand. This alarmed the missionaries, who called for British control of European settlers in New Zealand.

British sovereignty

In 1788 the colony of New South Wales had been founded. According to Captain Phillip’s amended Commission, dated 25 April 1787, the colony included all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean within the latitudes of 10°37’S and 43°39’S which included most of New Zealand except for the southern half of the South Island. In 1825 with Van Diemen’s Land becoming a separate colony, the southern boundary of New South Wales was altered to the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean with a southern boundary of 39°12’S which included only the northern half of the North Island. However, these boundaries had no real impact as the New South Wales administration had little interest in New Zealand.

In response to complaints about lawless sailors and adventurers in New Zealand, the British government appointed James Busby as Official Resident in 1832. In 1834 he encouraged Māori chiefs to assert their sovereignty with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835. This was acknowledged by King William IV. Busby was provided with neither legal authority nor military support and was thus ineffective in controlling the European population.

Treaty of Waitangi

In 1839, the New Zealand Company announced its plans to establish colonies in New Zealand. This, and the continuing lawlessness of many of the established settlers, spurred the British to take stronger action. Captain William Hobson was sent to New Zealand to persuade Māori to cede their sovereignty to the British Crown. In reaction to the New Zealand Company’s moves, on 15 June 1839 a new Letters patent was issued to expand the territory of New South Wales to include all of New Zealand. Governor of New South Wales George Gipps was appointed Governor over New Zealand. This was the first clear expression of British intent to annex New Zealand.

On 6 February 1840, Hobson and about forty Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. Copies of the Treaty were subsequently taken around the country to be signed by other chiefs. A significant number refused to sign or were not asked but, in total, more than five hundred Māori eventually signed.

The Treaty gave Māori sovereignty over their lands and possessions and all of the rights of British citizens. What it gave the British in return depends on the language-version of the Treaty that is referred to. The English version can be said to give the British Crown sovereignty over New Zealand but in the Māori version the Crown receives kawanatanga, which, arguably, is a lesser power (see interpretations of the Treaty). Dispute over the true meaning and the intent of either party remains an issue.

Britain was motivated by the desire to forestall other European powers (France established a very small settlement at Akaroa in the South Island later in 1840), to facilitate settlement by British subjects and, possibly, to end the lawlessness of European (predominantly British and American) whalers, sealers and traders. Officials and missionaries had their own positions and reputations to protect.

Māori chiefs were motivated by a desire for protection from foreign powers, the establishment of governorship over European settlers and traders in New Zealand, and to allow for wider settlement that would increase trade and prosperity for Māori.

Hobson died in September 1842. Robert FitzRoy, the new governor, took some legal steps to recognise Māori custom. However, his successor, George Grey, promoted rapid cultural assimilation and reduction of the land ownership, influence and rights of the Māori. The practical effect of the Treaty was, in the beginning, only gradually felt, especially in predominantly Māori regions.

Colonial period

The European population of New Zealand grew explosively from fewer than 1000 in 1831 to 500,000 by 1881. Some 400,000 settlers came from Britain, of whom 300,000 stayed permanently. Most were young people and 250,000 babies were born. The passage of 120,000 was paid by the colonial government. After 1880 immigration slacked off and growth was due chiefly to the excess of births over deaths.

Administered at first as a part of the Australian colony of New South Wales, New Zealand became a colony in its own right on 1 July 1841. It was divided into three provinces that were reorganised in 1846 and in 1853, when they acquired their own legislatures, and then abolished in 1876. The country rapidly gained some measure of self-government through the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, which established central and provincial government.

The Maori tribes at first sold the land to the settlers, but the government voided the sales in 1840. Now only the government was allowed to purchase land from the Maori, who received cash. The government bought practically all the useful land, then resold it to the New Zealand Company, which promoted immigration, or leased it for sheep runs. The Company resold the best tracts to British settlers; its profits were used to pay the travel of the immigrants from Britain.

Because of the vast distances involved, the first settlers were self-sufficient farmers. By the 1840s, however, large scale sheep ranches were exporting large quantities of wool to the textile mills of England. Most of the first settlers were brought over by a programme operated by the New Zealand Company (inspired by Edward Gibbon Wakefield) and were located in the central region on either side of Cook Strait, and at Wellington, Wanganui, New Plymouth and Nelson. These settlements had access to some of the richest plains in the country and after refrigerated ships appeared in 1882, they developed into closely settled regions of small-scale farming. Outside these compact settlements were the sheep runs. Pioneer pastoralists, often men with experience as squatters in Australia, leased lands from the government at the annual rate of £5 plus £1 for each 1,000 sheep above the first 5,000. The leases were renewed automatically, which gave the wealthy pastoralists a strong landed interest and made them a powerful political force. In all between 1856 and 1876, 8.1 million acres were sold for £7.6 million, and 2.2 million acres were given free to soldiers, sailors and settlers.

Gold discoveries in Otago (1861) and Westland (1865), caused a worldwide gold rush that more than doubled the population in a short period, from 71,000 in 1859 to 164,000 in 1863. The value of trade increased fivefold from £2 million to £10 million. As the gold boom ended Premier Julius Vogel borrowed money from British investors and launched in 1870 an ambitious programme of public works and infrastructure investment, together with a policy of assisted immigration. Successive governments expanded the program with offices across Britain that enticed settlers and gave them and their families one-way tickets.

Wakefield’s vision

British writer Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796-1862) exerted a far-reaching influence. His plans for systematic British colonization focused on a free labour system, in contrast to slavery that existed in the United States and convict labour in Australia. Inspired by evangelical religion and abolitionism, Wakefield’s essays (1829 to 1849), condemned both slavery and indentured and convict labour, as immoral, unjust, and inefficient. Instead, he proposed a government sponsored system in which the price of farm land was set at a high enough level to prevent urban workers from easily purchasing it and thus leaving the labour market. His colonisation programs were over-elaborate and operated on a much smaller scale than he hoped for, but his ideas influenced law and culture, especially his vision for the colony as the embodiment of post-Enlightenment ideals, the notion of New Zealand as a model society, and the sense of fairness in employer-employee relations.


Although norms of masculinity were dominant, strong minded women originated a feminist movement starting in the 1860s, well before women gained the right to vote in 1893. Middle class women employed the media (especially newspapers) to communicate with each other and define their priorities. Prominent feminist writers included Mary Taylor, Mary Colclough (pseud. Polly Plum), and Ellen Ellis. The first signs of a politicized collective female identity came in crusades to pass the Contagious Diseases Prevention Act.

Feminists by the 1880s were using the rhetoric of “white slavery” to reveal men’s sexual and social oppression of women. By demanding that men take responsibility for the right of women to walk the streets in safety, New Zealand feminists deployed the rhetoric of white slavery to argue for women’s sexual and social freedom. Middle class women successfully mobilized to stop prostitution, especially during the First World War.

Maori women developed their own form of feminism, derived from Maori nationalism rather than European sources.

In 1893 Elizabeth Yates was elected mayor of Onehunga; an able administrator, she cut the debt, reorganised the fire brigade, and improved the roads and sanitation. Many men were hostile and she was defeated for reelection. Hutching argues that after 1890 women were increasingly well organized through the National Council of Women, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the Women’s International League, and the Housewives Union, and others. By 1910 they were campaigning for peace, and against compulsory military training, and conscription. They demanded arbitration and the peaceful resolution of international disputes. The women argued that womenhood (thanks to motherhood) was the repository of superior moral values and concerns and from their domestic experience they knew best how to resolve conflicts


Before 1877 numerous schools were operated by the provincial government or churches, or by private subscription. No one was required to attend and many children did not attend any school, especially farm children whose labour was important to the family economy. The quality of education varied widely amongst those providing it. The Education Act 1877 established New Zealand’s first free national system of primary education. It established standards of quality of education, and reduce the secular influence on education. It became compulsory for children from ages 5 to 15 to attend primary school.



“First Scottish Colony for New Zealand” — 1839 poster advertising emigration from Scotland to New Zealand. Collection of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland.

From 1840 there was considerable European settlement, primarily from England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland; and to a lesser extent the United States, India, and various parts of continental Europe, including the province of Dalmatia in what is now Croatia, and Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic. Already a majority of the population by 1859, the number of white settlers (called Pākehā by Māori) increased rapidly to reach a million by 1911.

In the 1870s and 1880s, several thousand Chinese men, mostly from Guangdong province, migrated to New Zealand to work on the South Island goldfields. Although the first Chinese migrants had been invited by the Otago Provincial government they quickly became the target of hostility from white settlers and laws were enacted specifically to discourage them from coming to New Zealand

Māori adaptation and resistance

Māori had welcomed Pākehā for the trading opportunities and guns they brought. However it soon became clear that they had underestimated the number of settlers that would arrive in their lands. Iwi (tribes) whose land was the base of the main settlements quickly lost much of their land and autonomy through government acts. Others prospered—until about 1860 the city of Auckland bought most of its food from Māori who grew and sold it themselves. Many iwi owned flour mills, ships and other items of European technology, some exported food to Australia. Although race relations were generally peaceful in this period, there were conflicts over who had ultimate power in particular areas—the Governor or the Māori chiefs. One such conflict was the Northern or Flagstaff War of the 1840s, during which the town of Kororareka was destroyed.

As the Pākehā population grew, pressure grew on Māori to sell more land. A few tribes had become nearly landless and others feared losing their lands. Land is not only an economic resource, but also the basis of Māori identity and a connection with their ancestors. Land was held communally, it was not given up without discussion and consultation—or loss during warfare.

Pākehā had little understanding of all that and accused Māori of holding onto land they did not use efficiently. Competition for land was a primary cause of the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, in which the Taranaki and Waikato regions were invaded by colonial troops and Māori of these regions had much of their land taken from them. The wars and confiscation left bitterness that remains to this day.

Some iwi sided with the government and, later, fought with the government. They were motivated partly by the thought that an alliance with the government would benefit them, and partly by old feuds with the iwi they fought against. One result of their co-operation strategy was the establishment of the four Māori seats in parliament, in 1867.

After the wars, some Māori began a strategy of passive resistance, most famously at Parihaka in Taranaki. Others continued co-operating with Pākehā. For example, tourism ventures were established by Te Arawa around Rotorua. Resisting and co-operating iwi both found that the Pākehā desire for land remained. In the last decades of the century, most iwi lost substantial amounts of land through the activities of the Native Land Court. This was set up to give Māori land European-style titles and to establish exactly who owned it. Due to its Eurocentric rules, the high fees, its location remote from the lands in question, and unfair practices by many Pākehā land agents, its main effect was to directly or indirectly separate Māori from their land.

The combination of war, confiscations, disease, assimilation and intermarriage, land loss leading to poor housing and alcohol abuse, and general disillusionment, caused a fall in the Māori population from around 86,000 in 1769 to around 70,000 in 1840 and around 48,000 by 1874, hitting a low point of 42,000 in 1896. Subsequently their numbers began to recover.

South Island


The settlement of English in the North Island and northern South Island and Scottish in the Deep South is reflected in the dominance of Anglicanism and Presbyterianism in the respective regions.

While the North Island was convulsed by the Land Wars, the South Island, with its low Māori population, was generally peaceful. In 1861 gold was discovered at Gabriel’s Gully in Central Otago, sparking a gold rush. Dunedin became the wealthiest city in the country and many in the South Island resented financing the North Island’s wars. In 1865 Parliament defeated a proposal to make the South Island independent by 17 to 31.

The South Island contained most of the Pākehā population until around 1900 when the North Island again took the lead and has supported an ever greater majority of the country’s total population through the 20th century and into the 21st.

Scottish immigrants dominated the South Island and evolved ways to bridge the old homeland and the new. Many local Caledonian societies were formed. They organized sports teams to entice the young and preserved an idealized Scottish national myth (based on Robert Burns) for the elderly. They gave Scots a path to assimilation and cultural integration as Scottish New Zealanders.



The prewar era saw the advent of party politics, with the establishment of the First Liberal government. The landed gentry and aristocracy ruled Britain at this time. New Zealand never had an aristocracy but it did have wealthy landowners who largely controlled politics before 1891. The Liberal Party set out to change that by a policy it called “populism.” Richard Seddon had proclaimed the goal as early as 1884: “It is the rich and the poor; it is the wealthy and the landowners against the middle and labouring classes. That, Sir, shows the real political position of New Zealand.” The Liberal strategy was to create a large class of small land-owning farmers who supported Liberal ideals. The First Liberal government also established the basis of the later welfare state, with old age pensions, developed a system for settling industrial disputes, which was accepted by both employers and trade unions. In 1893 it extended voting rights to women, making New Zealand the first country in the world to enact universal female suffrage.

To obtain land for farmers the Liberal government from 1891 to 1911 purchased 3.1 million acres of Maori land. The government also purchased 1.3 million acres from large estate holders for subdivision and closer settlement by small farmers. The Advances to Settlers Act of 1894 provided low-interest mortgages, while the Agriculture Department disseminated information on the best farming methods.

The 1909 Native Land Act allowed the Maori to sell land to private buyers. By 1920 Maori still owned five million acres by 1920; they leased three million acres and used one million acres for themselves. The Liberals proclaimed success in forging an egalitarian, antimonopoly land policy. The policy built up support for the Liberal party in rural North Island electorates. By 1903 the Liberals were so dominant that there was no longer an organized opposition in Parliament.

New Zealand gained international attention for its reforms, especially how the state regulated labour relations. Of special note were innovations in the areas of maximum hour regulations, minimum wage laws, and compulsory arbitration procedures. The goal was to encourage unions but discourage strikes and class conflict. The impact was especially strong on the reform movement in the United States.

Coleman argues that the Liberals in 1891 lacked a clearcut ideology to guide them. Instead they approached the nation’s problems pragmatically, keeping in mind the constraints imposed by democratic public opinion. To deal with the issue of land distribution, they worked out innovative solutions to access, tenure, and a graduated tax on unimproved values.


Major changes occurred during this decade. The economy grew from one based on wool and local trade to the export of wool, cheese, butter and frozen beef and mutton to Britain, a change enabled by the invention of refrigerated steamships in 1882. Refrigerated shipping remained the basis of New Zealand’s economy until the 1970s. New Zealand’s highly productive agriculture gave it probably the world’s highest standard of living, with fewer at the rich and poor ends of the scale.

In the 1880–1914 era the banking system was weak and there was little foreign investment, so businessmen had to build up their own capital. Historians have debated whether the “long depression” of the late 19th century stifled investment, but the New Zealanders found a way around adverse conditions. Hunter has studied the experiences of 133 entrepreneurs who started commercial enterprises between 1880 and 1910. The successful strategy was to deploy capital economizing techniques, and reinvesting profits rather than borrowing. The result was slow but stable growth that avoided bubbles and led to long-lived family owned firms.

Dominion and Realm

New Zealand initially expressed interest in joining the proposed Federation of the Australian colonies, attending the 1891 National Australia Convention in Sydney. Interest in the proposed Australian Federation faded and New Zealand decided against joining the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, and instead changed from being a colony to a separate “dominion” in 1907, equal in status to Australia and Canada


In New Zealand, prohibition was a moralistic reform movement begun in the mid-1880s by the Protestant evangelical and Nonconformist churches and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and after 1890 by the Prohibition League. It never achieved its goal of national prohibition. It was a middle-class movement which accepted the existing economic and social order; the effort to legislate morality assumed that individual redemption was all that was needed to carry the colony forward from a pioneering society to a more mature one. However, both the Church of England and the largely Irish Catholic Church rejected prohibition as an intrusion of government into the church’s domain, while the growing labour movement saw capitalism rather than alcohol as the enemy. Reformers hoped that the women’s vote, in which New Zealand was a pioneer, would swing the balance, but the women were not as well organized as in other countries. Prohibition had a majority in a national referendum in 1911, but needed a 60% majority to pass. The movement kept trying in the 1920s, losing three more referenda by close votes; it managed to keep in place a 6pm closing hour for pubs and Sunday closing. The Depression and war years effectively ended the movement.

First World War

The country remained an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, and 100,000 men fought in World War I (see New Zealand Expeditionary Force). New Zealand forces took Western Samoa from Germany in the early stages of the war, and New Zealand administered the country until Samoan Independence in 1962. The heroism of the soldiers in the failed Gallipoli campaign made their sacrifices iconic in New Zealand memory, and secured the psychological independence of the nation.


After the war New Zealand signed the Treaty of Versailles (1919) joined the League of Nations and pursued an independent foreign policy, while its defense was still controlled by Britain. New Zealand depended on Britain’s Royal Navy for its military security during the 1920s and 1930s. Officials in Wellington trusted Conservative Party governments in London, but not Labour. When the British Labour Party took power in 1924 and 1929, the New Zealand government felt threatened by Labour’s foreign policy because of its reliance upon the League of Nations. The League was distrusted and Wellington did not expect to see the coming of a peaceful world order under League auspices. What had been the Empire’s most loyal dominion became a dissenter as it opposed efforts the first and second British Labour governments to trust the League’s framework of arbitration and collective security agreements.

The governments of the Reform and United parties between 1912 and 1935 followed a “realistic” foreign policy. They made national security a high priority, were skeptical of international institutions, and showed no interest on the questions of self-determination, democracy, and human rights. However the opposition Labour Party was more idealistic and proposed a liberal internationalist outlook on international affairs.

The Labour Party emerged as a force in 1919 with a Socialist platform. Its won about 25% of the vote. However its appeals to working class solidarity were not effective because a large fraction of the working class voted for conservative candidates of the Liberal and Reform parties. (They merged in 1936 to form the National Party.) As a consequence the Labour party was able to jettison its support for socialism in 1927 (a policy made official in 1951), as it expanded its reach into middle class constituencies. The result was an jump in strength to 35% in 1931, 47% in 1935, and peaking at 56% in 1938. From 1935 the First Labour Government showed a limited degree of idealism in foreign policy, for example opposing the appeasement of Germany and Japan.


Like most other countries, New Zealand was hard hit by the Great Depression of the 1930s, which affected the country via its international trade, with farming export drops then going on to affect the money supply and in turn consumption, investment and imports. The country was most affected around 1930-1932, when average farm incomes for a short time dipped below zero, and the unemployment rates peaked. Though actual unemployment numbers were not officially counted, the country was affected especially strongly in the North Island.

Unlike later years, there were no public benefit (‘dole’) payments — the unemployed were given ‘relief work’, much of which was however not very productive, partly because the size of the problem was unprecedented. Women also increasingly registered as unemployed, while Maori received government help through other channels such as the land development schemes organised by Apirana Ngata. In 1933, 8.5% of the unemployed were organised in work camps, while the rest received work close to their homes. Typical occupations in relief work were road work (undertaken by 45% of all part-time and 19% of all full-time relief workers in 1934, with park improvement works (17%) and farm work (31%) being the other two most common types of work for part-time and full-time relief workers respectively)

Labour in power

Attempts by the conservative Liberal-Reform coalition to deal with the situation with spending cuts and relief work were ineffective and unpopular. In 1935, the First Labour Government was elected, and the post-depression decade showed that average Labour support in New Zealand had roughly doubled comparable to pre-depression times. By 1935 economic conditions had improved somewhat, and the new government had more positive financial conditions. Savage proclaimed that, “Social Justice must be the guiding principle and economic organization must adapt itself to social needs.”

The new government quickly set about implementing a number of significant reforms, including a reorganisation of the social welfare system and the creation of the state housing scheme. Labour also gained Maori votes by working closely with the Rātana movement. Savage was idolized by the working classes, and his portrait hung on the walls of many houses around the country. The newly created welfare state promised government support to individuals “From the cradle to the grave,” according to the Labour slogan. It included free health care and education and state assistance for the elderly, infirm, and unemployed. The opposition attacked the Labour Party’s more left-wing policies, and accused it of undermining free enterprise and hard work. The Reform Party and the United Party merged to become the National Party, and would be Labour’s main rival in future years. However the welfare state system was retained and expanded by successive National and Labour governments until the 1980s

Second World War

When World War II broke out in 1939, New Zealanders saw their proper role as defending their proud place in the British Empire. It contributed some 120,000 troops. They mostly fought in North Africa, Greece/Crete, and Italy, relying on the Royal Navy and later the United States to protect New Zealand from the Japanese forces. Japan had no interest in New Zealand in the first place; it had already overreached when it invaded New Guinea in 1942. (There were a few highly publicized but ineffective Japanese scouting incursions.) The 3rd New Zealand Division fought in the Solomons in 1943-44, but New Zealand’s limited manpower meant 2 Divisions could not be maintained, and it was disbanded and its men returned to civilian life or used to reinforce the 2nd Division in Italy. Cooperation with the United States set a direction of policy which resulted in the ANZUS Treaty between New Zealand, America and Australia in 1951, as well as participation in the Korean War.

Fedorowich and Bridge argue that the demands of War produced long-term consequences the relationship with the government in London. The key component was the office of the high commissioner. By 1950 it was the main line of communications between the British and New Zealand governments.

Montgomerie shows that the war dramatically increased the roles of women, especially married women, in the labour force. Most of them took traditional female jobs. Some replaced men but the changes here were temporary and reversed in 1945. After the war, women left traditional male occupations and many women gave up paid employment to return home. There was no radical change in gender roles but the war intensified occupational trends under way since the 1920s


Mainstream New Zealand culture was deeply British and conservative, with the concept of “fairness” holding a central role. From the 1890s, the economy had been based almost entirely on the export of frozen meat and dairy products to Britain, and in 1961, the share of New Zealand exports going to the United Kingdom was still at slightly over 51%, with approximately 15% more going to other European countries. This system was irreparably damaged by Britain joining the European Economic Community in 1973, at a time of global economic upheaval regarding energy prices. Britain’s accession to the European Community forced New Zealand to not only find new markets, but also re-examine its national identity and place in the world.

Maori urbanisation

Māori always had a high birth rate; that was neutralized by a high death rate until modern public health measures became effective in the 20th century when tuberculosis deaths and infant mortality declined sharply. Life expectancy grew from 49 years in 1926 to 60 years in 1961 and the total numbers grew rapidly. Many Māori served in the Second World War and learned how to cope in the modern urban world; others moved from their rural homes to the cities to take up jobs vacated by Pākehā servicemen. The shift to the cities was also caused by their strong birth rates in the early 20th century, with the existing rural farms in Māori ownership having increasing difficulty in providing enough jobs. Māori culture had meanwhile undergone a renaissance thanks in part to politician Apirana Ngata. World War II saw the beginning of a mass Māori migration to the cities, and by the 1980s 80% of the Māori population was urban, in contrast to only 20% before the war. The migration led to better pay, higher standards of living and longer schooling, but also exposed problems of racism and discrimination. By the late 1960s, a protest movement had emerged to combat racism, promote Māori culture and seek fulfilment of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Urbanisation proceeded rapidly across the land. In the late 1940s, town planners noted that the country was “possibly the third most urbanised country in the world”, with two thirds of the population living in cities or towns. There was also increasing concern that this trend was badly managed, with it being noted that there was an “ill-defined urban pattern that appears to have few of the truly desirable urban qualities and yet manifests no compensating rural characteristics.”

The “Muldoon years”: 1975–1984

The country’s economy suffered in the aftermath of the 1973 global energy crisis, the loss of New Zealand’s biggest export market upon Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community, and rampant inflation. Robert Muldoon, Prime Minister from 1975 to 1984, and his Third National government responded to the crises of the 1970s by attempting to preserve the New Zealand of the 1950s. He attempted to maintain New Zealand’s “cradle to the grave” welfare state, which dated to 1935. His government sought to give retirees 80% of the current wage, which would require large-scale borrowing; critics said it would bankrupt the treasury. Muldoon’s response to the crisis also involved imposing a total freeze on wages, prices, interest rates and dividends across the national economy. His conservatism and antagonistic style exacerbated an atmosphere of conflict in New Zealand, most violently expressed during the 1981 Springbok Tour. In the 1984 elections Labour promised to calm down the increasing tensions, while making no specific promises; it scored a landslide victory.

However, Muldoon’s Government was not entirely backward looking. Some innovations did take place, for example the Closer Economic Relations (CER) free-trade programme with Australia to liberalise trade, starting in 1982. The aim of total free trade between the two countries was achieved in 1990, five years ahead of schedule. Also, in 1983 the term “dominion” was replaced with “realm” by letters patent.

Contemporary history

In 1984, the Fourth Labour government was elected amid a constitutional and economic crisis. Unexpectedly, the Labour government between 1984-1990 launched a major policy of restructuring the economy radically reducing the role of government. A political scientist reports:

“Between 1984 and 1993, New Zealand underwent radical economic reform, moving from what had probably been the most protected, regulated and state-dominated system of any capitalist democracy to an extreme position at the open, competitive, free-market end of the spectrum.”

The economic reforms were led by finance minister Roger Douglas (finance minister (1984-1988), who enacted fundamental, radically neo-liberal and unexpectedly pro-free market reforms known as Rogernomics. This involved removing many of the favours and barriers that had long insulated the economy from world trends. It involved floating the New Zealand dollar, cutting government spending, reducing most taxes and introducing a sales tax (GST), and removing most subsidies. Rogernomics resembled the contemporaneous policies of Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the U.S. Rogernomics was a rapid programme of deregulation and public-asset sales. Subsidies were phased out to farmers and consumers. High finance was partly deregulated. Restrictions on foreign exchange were relaxed and the dollar was allowed to float and seek its natural level on the world market. The tax on high incomes was cut in half from 65% to 33%. The shares exchange entered a bubble, which then burst. Shares had a total value of $50 billion in 1987 and only $15 billion in 1991; Belich says that at one point the crash was “the worst in world.” Overall the economic growth fell from 2% a year to 1%.

Strong criticism of Rogernomics came from the left, especially from Labour’s traditional union and leftist support-base; Lange broke with Douglas’s policies in 1987; both men were forced out and Labour was in confusion.

Other fourth Labour government innovations included greater recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi through the Waitangi Tribunal, Homosexual Law Reform, the Constitution Act 1986 and the New Zealand Bill of Rights.

The Fourth Labour Government also revolutionised New Zealand’s foreign policy, making the country a nuclear-free zone and effectively leaving the ANZUS alliance. Immigration policy was liberalised, allowing an influx of immigrants from Asia. Previously most immigrants to New Zealand had been European and especially British, apart from some migrants from other Pacific Islands such as Samoa

Continuing reform under National

Voters unhappy with the rapid speed and far-reaching extent of reforms elected a National government in 1990, led by Jim Bolger. However the new government continued the economic reforms of the previous Labour government, in what was known as Ruthanasia. Unhappy with what seemed to be a pattern of governments failing to reflect the mood of the electorate, New Zealanders in 1992 and 1993 voted to change the electoral system to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), a form of proportional representation. New Zealand’s first MMP election was held in 1996. Following the election National was returned to power in coalition with the New Zealand First Party.

With the end of the Cold War in 1991, the nation’s foreign policy turned increasingly to issues of its nuclear-free status and other military issues; its adjustment to neoliberalism in international trade relations; and its involvement in humanitarian, environmental, and other matters of international diplomacy.

21st century

The Fifth Labour government led by Helen Clark was elected in 1999. It maintained most of the previous governments’ economic reforms — restricting government intervention in the economy much more so than previous governments — while putting more of an emphasis on social policy and outcomes. For example, employment law was modified to give more protection to workers, and the student loan system was changed to eliminate interest payments for New Zealand resident students and graduates. Helen Clark’s Labour government remained in power for nine years before being replaced in 2008 by New Zealand’s Fifth National government led by John Key.

New Zealand retains strong but informal links to Britain, with many young New Zealanders travelling to Britain for their “OE” (overseas experience) due to favourable working visa arrangements with Britain. Despite New Zealand’s immigration liberalisation in the 1980s, Britons are still the largest group of migrants to New Zealand, due in part to recent immigration law changes which privilege fluent speakers of English. One constitutional link to Britain remains — New Zealand’s head of State, the Queen in Right of New Zealand, is a British resident. However, British imperial honours were discontinued in 1996, the Governor-General has taken a more active role in representing New Zealand overseas, and appeals from the Court of Appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council were replaced by a local Supreme Court of New Zealand in 2003. There is public debate about whether New Zealand should become a republic, and public sentiment is divided on the issue.

Foreign policy has been essentially independent since the mid-1980s. Under Prime Minister Clark, foreign policy reflected the priorities of liberal internationalism. She stressed the promotion of democracy and human rights; the strengthening of the role of the United Nations; the advancement of anti-militarism and disarmament; and the encouragement of free trade. She sent troops to the Afghanistan War, but did not contribute combat troops to the Iraq War although some medical and engineering units were sent.

John Key led the National Party to victory in both the November 2008 and the November 2011 general elections. Key leads the Fifth National Government of New Zealand which entered government at the beginning of the late-2000s recession in 2008. In his first term, Key’s government implemented a GST rise and personal tax cuts. In February 2011, a major earthquake in Christchurch, the nation’s second largest city, significantly impacted the national economy and the government formed the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority in response. In its second term, Key’s government announced a policy of partial privatisation of state-owned assets. In foreign policy, Key announced the withdrawal of New Zealand Defence Force personnel from their deployment in the war in Afghanistan, signed the Wellington Declaration with the United States and pushed for more nations to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership.

Tourism and agriculture are now the major industries that contribute to New Zealand’s economy. The traditional agricultural products of meat, dairy and wool has been supplemented by other products such as fruit, wine and timber.

Credit Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

September 23, 2015 / by / in , ,
List of disasters in New Zealand by death toll

This is a list of New Zealand disasters by death toll, listing major disasters (excluding epidemics and acts of war) which occurred in New Zealand and its territories or involved a significant number of New Zealand citizens, in a specific incident, where the loss of life was 10 or more.

List of disasters

Hastings Post Office after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake

Remnants of Flight 901fuselage, 2005

Wreck of the HMS Orpheus

Most victims of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquakedied in the CTV Building’s collapse

Tangiwai Memorial

Wreck of the Tararua

Inside the fissure formed in Tarawera’s 1886 eruption

Salvage operations on the wreck of TEV Wahine

Ballantyne’s fire seen from ChristChurch Cathedral

Seacliff asylum, before the fire

Hyde railway disaster memorial.

Restored grave of Dundonald’s mate, Auckland Islands

Octagon building fire

Remains of sulphur mine, White Island
Deaths Name or description Type Date Location Notes
257 Air New Zealand Flight TE901 Air accident 28 Nov 1979 Mt Erebus, Ross Dependency, Antarctica Controlled flight into terrain
256[1][2] 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake earthquake 3 Feb 1931 20 km north of Napier
189 HMS Orpheus shipwreck 7 Feb 1863 off the Manukau Heads near Auckland
185[3] February 2011 Christchurch earthquake earthquake 22 February 2011 Christchurch
151 Tangiwai disaster rail accident / lahar 24 Dec 1953 NIMT Whangaehu River bridge, betweenWaiouru and Ohakune rail bridge destroyed bylahar from Mount Ruapehu
135+[4] landslide 1780 Te Rapa/Waihi Village
131 SS Tararua shipwreck 29 Apr 1881 off Waipapa Point
121 SS Wairarapa shipwreck 29 Oct 1894 off Great Barrier Island
108–153[5][6] Mount Tarawera eruption volcanic eruption 10 Jun 1886 Mount Tarawera
100–200[7] floods and snowstorms Jul 1863 -Aug 1863 Central Otago goldfields
79 Fiery Star shipwreck 11 May 1865 240 km off the Chatham Islands
79[8] Matoaka shipwreck (presumed) 1869 between Lyttelton and London
75 SS Penguin shipwreck 12 Feb 1909 off Cape Terawhiti
68[9] General Grant shipwreck May 1866 Auckland Island
65[10] Brunner Mine disaster mine accident 26 Mar 1896 Brunner
65[11] Little Waihi Landslide landslide 7 May 1846 Waihi Village
53[12] TEV Wahine shipwreck 10 Apr 1968 Barrett Reef, Wellington Harbour
48 Featherston prisoner of war camp riot riot 25 Feb 1943 Featherston, New Zealand
45 SS Elingamite shipwreck 9 Nov 1902 off West Island in the Three Kings Islands
43[13] Ralph’s Mine mine accident 12 Sep 1914 Huntly
41 Ballantyne’s store disaster fire 18 Nov 1947 Christchurch
39[14][15] City of Dunedin shipwreck 20 May 1865 Cook Strait
37 Seacliff Lunatic Asylum fire 8 Dec 1942 Seacliff
34[14][16] SS Taiaroa shipwreck 11 Apr 1886 Clarence River mouth
34 Kaitangata mine mine explosion 21 Feb 1879 Kaitangata
34[17] Dunedin shipwreck (presumed) 1890 between Oamaru and London
30 Marlborough shipwreck (presumed) 1890 between Lyttelton and London
29[18] Pike River Mine disaster mine explosion 19 November 2010 northwest of Greymouth
29[19] MV Kaitawa shipwreck 23 May 1966 near Pandora Bank, Cape Reinga
26 Barque Maria shipwreck[16] 1851 Cape Terawhiti
25+[14][20] Great storm of 1868, flash floods and 12 shipwrecks storm 3 Feb 1868
25[21][22] MV Joyita ghost ship Oct 1955 En route from Apia, Samoa to Tokelau
24[23] Assaye shipwreck (presumed) 1890 between London and Wellington; wreckage washed up at the Chatham Islands 7 months after the ship left London
23 New Zealand National Airways Corporation Flight 441 air accident 3 Jul 1963 Kaimai Ranges
22[24] launch Ranui shipwreck 30 Dec 1950 off Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty
21 Hyde railway disaster rail accident 4 Jun 1943 near Hyde
21[25] railway workers camp flood 19 Feb 1938 Kopuawhara
21[26][27] brigantine Sophia Pate shipwreck Aug 1841 Kaipara Harbour
20[16] schooner St. Vincent shipwreck 1869 Palliser Bay
19[28] Strongman Mine mine explosion 19 Jan 1967 near Greymouth
18[29] Clyde shipwreck 6 Nov 1884 Horseshoe Bay, near Akaroa, Banks Peninsula
18[30] Lastingham shipwreck 1 Sep 1884 Cape Jackson, Cook Strait
18[31] schooners Enterprise andTauranga shipwreck 23 Jul 1870 between Cape Rodney and Sail Rock,Hauraki Gulf
17[32] 1929 Murchison earthquake earthquake 17 Jun 1929 Murchison
17 North Island Main Trunk express rail accident[14] 6 Jul 1923 Ongarue
16[33] Capitaine Bougainville shipwreck 3 Sep 1975 Whananaki
16[34] 1943 Liberator crash at Whenuapai air accident 2 Aug 1943 Whenuapai
15[35] Brynderwyns bus accident road accident 7 Feb 1963 Brynderwyn Hills
15[36] MV Holmglen shipwreck 24 Nov 1959 near Timaru
15[14] Lockheed Lodestar airliner crash air accident 18 Mar 1949 near Waikanae
15[37] Derry Castle shipwreck 20 Mar 1887 Enderby Island, Auckland Islands
14 Cave Creek disaster structural failure 28 Apr 1995 Paparoa National Park
14[38] Aramoana massacre spree killing 13 Nov 1990 Aramoana, near Dunedin
14[39] Two Hudson bombers lost off the New Zealand coast air accident 21 Aug 1944 en route from Fiji
14[40] floods 17 Jan 1858 Hutt Valley
13 NAC Electra air crash air accident 23 Oct 1948 on Mount Ruapehu
13[41] SS Ventnor shipwreck 28 Oct 1902 off Omapere, Hokianga
13[16] Tasmania shipwreck 1897 Mahia Peninsula
12[42] barque Dundonald shipwreck 7 Mar 1907 Disappointment Island, Auckland Islands
12[43] Barque Lizzie Bell shipwreck 24 Jul 1901 Waimate, Taranaki
12[44] floods 16 Apr 1897 Clive, Hawkes Bay
12[45] Zuleika shipwreck 16 Apr 1897 near Cape Palliser
12[46] Cafe Chantant fire, The Octagon, Dunedin fire 8 Sep 1879 Dunedin
12[47] ferry Pride of the Yarraand paddle steamerFavourite collision 6 Jul 1863 Otago Harbour
12[48] Alcmène shipwreck 3 Jun 1851 Baylys Beach, Kaipara
12[49][50] Brigantine Rio Loge shipwreck (presumed) Jan 1909 Last seen in Cook Strait on 14 January, en route from Kaipara to Dunedin May have caused the wreck of the Penguin a month later.[51]
11[52] 2012 Carterton hot air balloon crash air accident 7 Jan 2012 near Carterton
11[53] Glen Afton mine, carbon monoxide asphyxiation mine disaster 24 Sep 1939 Huntly
11[54] B17 bomber crash air accident 12 Jun 1942 RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai
10[55] Aspiring Air Britten-Norman Islander, collided with terrain air crash 8 Aug 1989 Upper Dart Valley
10[56] Brig Australia shipwreck 23 May 1873 off Cape Campbell
10[57] Husky and Argo lost to storm in yacht race shipwrecks 21 Jan 1951 between Wellington and Christchurch
10[58] sulphur mine destroyed lahar 10 Sep 1914 Whakaari/White Island

Significant international events involving New Zealanders

Confirmed Deaths Name Type Date Location Notes
470[59] Cospatrick fire 17 Nov 1874 640 km south-west of the Cape of Good Hope, en route to Auckland Only 3 people survived
100[60] The Trevelyan (immigrant ship en route from Glasgow) storm 3 Jun 1888 Presumed foundered off the South African coast, en route to Port Chalmers, New Zealand
89[61] Knowsley Hall shipwreck (presumed) 1879 between London and Lyttelton
10[62] Bere Ferrers rail accident, train hit NZ troops on tracks by platform train accident 24 Sep 1917 Bere Ferrers, Devon, UK

See also

  • List of wars and disasters by death toll (worldwide)
  • List of disasters in Australia by death toll
  • List of Canadian disasters by death toll
  • List of United Kingdom disasters by death toll
  • List of New Zealand-related topics
  • List of New Zealand earthquakes
  • List of rail accidents in New Zealand


Bateman New Zealand Encyclopedia, edition 4 (1995). Article: |earthquake 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, Hawke’s Bay region, Napier

  1. Welch, Denis (4 February 2006). “Shake, Rattle & Roll”. New Zealand Listener (3430): 29–30. A larger death toll of 258 includes two missing, presumed dead.
  2. “List of deceased – Christchurch earthquake”. New Zealand Police. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  3. Waihi Landslide, GeoNet News, Vol. 2, February 2003, p. 7. Death toll calculated by subtracting death tolls for two later landslides (64 and 1 in 1846 and 1910 respectively) from the total of “more than 200” given for all three.
  4. The eruption’s death toll is uncertain. While 153 is a commonly quoted figure, only 108 named victims have been identified. Death list, Anheizen.com.
  5. In 2007, the General Manager of the Earthquake Commission said that “… Ngati Hinemihi oral accounts put the death toll in the thousands.” David Middleton (2007). A Roof Over Their Heads? The challenge of accommodation following disasters. (Accessed 2008-04-12.)
  6. Disasters and Mishaps – Flood Hazards – Blizzard and Flood in 1863, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Accessed 2008-01-22.
  7. The Missing New Zealand Ship ‘MATOAKA’, which cites The Times, London, 22 March 1870, page 9. Accessed 2008-05-21.
  8. Five more died before the survivors were rescued 18 months later.
  9. Brunner mine disaster
  10. Lamorna Cooper, Hipaua Steaming Cliffs and Little Waihi Landslide, Tephra, Vol. 19, June 2002, 42-47.
  11. The original Wahine death toll was 51; two names were added 22 and 40 years later. Three more people were killed by Cyclone Giselle elsewhere in New Zealand.
  12. New Zealand Disasters – Mining: Ralph’s Mine, Christchurch City Libraries.
  13. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e New Zealand disasters timeline, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
  14. Steamer ‘City of Dunedin’- Mysterious Sinking – Cook Strait, New Zealand – 20 May 1865
  15. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Disasters and Mishaps – Shipwrecks, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966, updated 2007-09-18.
  16. Dunedin, which cites W.H. Brett’s White Wings: Fifty years of sail in the New Zealand Trade, Vol. I. 1925.
  17. Beswick, Angela. “Pike River: Second explosion, no survivors”. 3 News. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  18. New Zealand Disasters – Sinking of MV Kaitawa – 1966
  19. Great storm of 1868, flash floods and 12 shipwrecks
  20. Field, Michael (6 March 2012). “1955 Pacific mystery to be finally marked”. stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  21. All 25 on board were missing when the boat was found, and are presumed dead.
  22. Assaye
  23. New Zealand Disasters – Ranui sinking – 1950
  24. New Zealand Disasters – Kopuawhara flood, Christchurch City Libraries.
  25. Ryburn, Wayne (1999). Tall Spars, Steamers & Gum. Auckland, N.Z.: Kaipara Publications. p. 230. ISBN 0-473-06176-7.
  26. “Not many remember the Sophia Pate”.
  27. New Zealand Disasters – Strongman Mine Explosion, Christchurch City Libraries.
  28. Clyde, Dive New Zealand Magazine.
  29. The Lastingham Wreck, Paul’s Dive Planet.
  30. New Zealand Historical Data – Ship “Tauranga”
  31. Eileen McSaveney, Historic earthquakes – The 1929 Arthur’s Pass and Murchison earthquakes, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Updated 2007-09-21. Accessed 2008-01-05.
  32. Whananaki Coastal Walk
  33. Livingstone, Bob (1998). Under the Southern Cross: The B-24 Liberator in the South Pacific. Turner. p. 115. ISBN 1-56311-432-1.
  34. New Zealand Disasters – Brynderwyns bus accident, Christchurch City Libraries.
  35. Disasters and Mishaps – Shipwrecks – Holmglen, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966, updated 2007-09-18.
  36. “The Derry Castle”. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  37. [13 murder victims plus perpetrator]
  38. A. H. McLintock, ed. (1966). “Pre-war and Wartime Accidents”.An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  39. Weekly Feature – Early settler had leading role, Wairarapa Times-Age, 17 May 2003.
  40. Disasters and Mishaps – Shipwrecks – Ventnor, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966, updated 2007-09-18. The cargo included 499 corpses, which were never recovered.
  41. Three more died before being rescued.
  42. New Zealand Disasters – Barque Lizzie Bell sinking – 1901
  43. Clive floods – Hawkes Bay, North Island – Good Friday 16 April 1897
  44. The Wreck of The “Zuleika”, Palliser Bay. Quotes from NZ Truth, 16 March 1976.
  45. Octagon building fire, Dunedin – 8 September 1879
  46. Wreck information, Quay Stuff.
  47. Wreck of the Alcmène
  48. “The Rio Loge”. Press (Wellington). Press Association. 13 February 1909. p. 11. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  49. “Supposed Hull of Rio Loge”. Poverty Bay Herald. 22 February 1909. p. 5. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  50. Stacey Wood; Greer McDonald (11 February 2009). “Search for wreck of Penguin”. Dominion Post. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  51. “Hot air balloon crash near Carterton kills 11”. Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
  52. Sherwood, Alan and Phillips, Jock. “Coal and coal mining”. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  53. Lomas, David (10 April 2010). “Secret deaths”. The New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
  54. “Accident description”. Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
  55. “Loss of the brig Australia, at Cape Campbell”. Grey River Argus. 7 June 1873. p. 2. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  56. “Yacht Wrecked in Ocean Race”. The Press. 29 January 1951. p. 6. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  57. A death toll of 12 is sometimes given. This may include two miners who died during the year before the lahar.
  58. John Wilson, The voyage out – Fire on the Cospatrick, from Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Updated 2007-09-21. Accessed 2008-05-20.
  59. The Mercury newspaper (Hobart, Australia), [1], Tuesday 30 October 1888
  60. Board of Trade Wreck Report for ‘Knowsley Hall’, 1880, Board of Trade, 1880. Accessed 2008-05-21.
  61. BBC – Devon – News – Bere Ferrers unveils memorial to 10 New Zealand soldiers killed in a train accident in 1917
February 17, 2014 / by / in
List of massacres in New Zealand
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

The following is a list of events that have been called massacres that have occurred in New Zealand (numbers may be approximate):

Name Date Location Deaths Notes
Raurimu massacre 8 February 1997 Raurimu, New Zealand 6 4 wounded
New Empire Hotel arson 4 February 1995 Hamilton, New Zealand 6
Bain family murders 20 June 1994 Dunedin, New Zealand 5
Ratima family murders 26 June 1992 Masterton, New Zealand 7
Schlaepfer family murders 20 May 1992 Paerata, New Zealand 7 Shooter among dead
Aramoana massacre 13 November 1990-14 November 1990 Aramoana, New Zealand 14 3 (unofficially 4) injuries. Shooter among dead.
Noema Rika murders 27 May 1951 Otaki, New Zealand 5 Shooter among dead
Featherston prisoner of war camp riot 25 February 1943 Featherston, New Zealand 49 80 wounded
Stanley Graham 8 October 1941-20 October 1941 Kowhitirangi, New Zealand 8 Shooter among dead
Henare Hona murders 21 October 1934 Morrinsville, New Zealand 6 Shooter among dead
Himatangi tragedy 6 September 1929 Himatangi, New Zealand 7 Unsolved shooting and arson, possibly murder/suicide.
Waikino School Tragedy 19 October 1923 Waikino, New Zealand 2 Gunman killed 2 children, 4 children injured, 2 adults injured.
Mohaka massacre 10 April 1869 Mohaka, New Zealand 68 Part of Te Kooti’s War
Pukearuhe massacre 13 February 1869 Pukearuhe, New Zealand 8
Ngatapa massacre 5 January 1869 Ngatapa, New Zealand 120 Part of Te Kooti’s War
Poverty Bay massacre 10 November 1868 Poverty Bay, New Zealand 54 Part of Te Kooti’s War
Maungatapu murders 21 February 1866 Maungatapu, New Zealand 5
Finnigan family murders September 1865 Otahuhu, New Zealand 4
Rangiaowhia massacre 21 February 1864 Rangiaowhia, New Zealand 11 Part of the Waikato War
Gilfillan family killings 18 April 1847 Wanganui, New Zealand 4
Wairau Affray 17 June 1843 Tuamarina 26 8 wounded
Maketū Wharetōtara murders 1841 Bay of Islands, New Zealand 5
Invasion of the Chatham Islands November 1835 Chatham Islands, New Zealand 2000 Part of the Musket Wars
Siege of Pukerangiora November 1831 Waitara River, New Zealand 1200 Part of the Musket Wars
Boyd massacre December 1809 Whangaroa Harbour 66
Revenge attacks following death of Marion du Fresne 13 June 1772-July 1772 Bay of Islands, New Zealand 250
Death of Marion du Fresne 12 June 1772 Bay of Islands, New Zealand 26
February 17, 2014 / by / in