Maori Wars update 1846 1916 2017

Interesting  news story about the discovery of a British Army multiple grave in New Zealand from the 1846 Northern War, part of the long running Maori Wars.

According to the Telegraph article: “The men had been buried according to Maori burial rites, along with objects that had been in their possession such as a clay smoking pipe.”

According to NZ archaeologist Jono Carpenter the men died during an attack on the Ruapekapeka pā on 11 January, 1846, in which 1600 British soldiers battled 400 Maori fighters. “Despite the British troops far outweighing the Maori, the battle was seen as a draw by both sides.”

The Guardian article has a few interesting history links too about the Northern War or Flagstaff War of 1845-6.

with some video of the battlefield, Pa fort,  reenactment etc on NZ One News coverage:

The Flagstaff part of the Maori Wars is also covered in a chapter of Britain’s Forgotten Wars: Colonial Campaigns of the Nineteenth Century by Ian Hernon (Sutton, 2003).

Maori Wars Memorial, Auckland War Memorial Museum with British and Gate Pa Maori flag (image: vpassau / Wikipedia)

There is an extensive Wikipedia entry on the Maori or New Zealand Wars,   an interesting Osprey Men at Arms on the Maori Wars, a fair amount online and a short simple set of Maori Wars rules by Andy Callan that he allowed me to reprint on this blog from Military Modelling,  September 1983.

Andy Callan wrote last year “Wow! That’s a real blast from the past. When I wrote these rules I saw them as a sort of Victorian assymetrical Vietnam equivalent – high tech westerners vs wily bunkered-down natives…”

I remember well the pictures of Peter Laing 15mm Maori War figures (Crimean and Zulu War figure) with a carpet forest.


Those deadly carpet forests ….

Lots of interesting material for both historians and skirmish gamers.  A difficult style  of formal war, siege  and guerilla  fighting to reproduce.

One interesting longlived veteran from this period is Sergeant Edwin Bezar (1838-1936), who wrote his military autobiography in 1891

1916 the Maori “Kaiser”

I was also surprised to read about the “Maori Kaiser” as he was dubbed in WW1, a Maori leader who popped up in 1916, mentioned in this NZ history website on the Maori in WW1 and WW2. One of the last gasps of Maori armed resistance before the civil rights struggle later through the 20th Century.

Devon and Exeter Gazette, April 5, 1916

Titled by other papers “Kaiser’s  Maori Ally”

Birmingham Gazette, 15 August 1916 (British Newspaper Archive).
Beverley Recorder Sept 18, 1915

There is a free digitised NZ newspaper archive which features the Maori Kaiser story

Fielding Star 22 February 1916 NZ

The Mercury, Tasmania,  Australia,  4 April 1916

and other Australian digitised newspapers

An interesting article looking on both sides of Maori feeling about WW1 and WW2:

This website features this short summary:

A Māori Kaiser?
Ngāi Tūhoe of the Urewera was one of the tribes that suffered greatly in the 1860s wars. In 1907 the followers of Tūhoe prophet Rua Kēnana established a community in the Urewera mountains, at Maungapōhatu. With the coming of war Rua discouraged his followers from volunteering. Some Pākehā feared that he was a Māori ‘Kaiser’, actively supporting the Germans. A party of 67 police marched on Maungapōhatu in April 1916, to arrest Rua on charges of illicitly selling alcohol. An armed confrontation occurred in which Rua’s son and uncle were killed.

As one Maori concluded, reported in Ian Hernon’s book, eventually the Maori were outnumbered by pakeha foreign settlers and crippled by introduced disease.

“Overwhelming numbers and disease crippled and contained the daring Maori. But the spark of resistance did not die out … in 1928 an anonymous Maori wrote:  “We have been beaten because the pakeha outnumber us in men. But we are not conquered or rubbed out, and not one of these pakeha can name the day we sued for peace. The most that can be said is that on such and such a date we left off fighting.”  (Page 75)

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 20 December 2017.

3 thoughts on “Maori Wars update 1846 1916 2017”

  1. Really interesting article. thanks for posting. I must have missed this in the news. I’ve been a member of the Victorian Military Society since I was a boy, so this is right up my street. The 1916 Maori kaiser was also unknown to me.


    1. Thanks Marvin. Interesting story, I thought the Maori and NZ govt approach to marking this site with a memorial (shown on the NZ TV clip) was quite amicable and quite respectful of the past warriors / foes.
      I have often seen material from the Victorian Military Society on Bob Cordery’s blog, it sounds good, very Donald Featherstone, but I am also in a process in unjoining societies over the last few years as the annual subs soon add up. One to watch or consider maybe.

      The 1916 Maori “Kaiser” story would be an interesting basis for a bush arrest and escape or bush skirmish style scenario for 1916 or late 19th Century Anzac style troops or militia, armed police and armed Maori. Interesting victory conditions and pure “Close Wars” appendix rules to Featherstone’s War Games.
      There is a Maori NZ film based on the 19th Century called UTU worth tracking down. Mark, Man of TIN

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I recall watching Utu many years ago – would love to see it again! Taught me a few things about Maori language and the early settler society. I recall that Utu meant revenge or something similar?
        Cheers, Marvin.


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