Musket Wars of the 1810s-1830s caused thousands of Maori to flee their
traditional lands, freeing large areas for Pakeha (European) settlement.
In 1840 Europeans bought
one desirable but depopulated area, Auckland,
for a tiny amount. This purchase sowed the seeds for interracial conflict. Ngapuhi,
led by Hone Heke, felt betrayed when trade slumped after the new colonial
government quit the Bay of Islands for Auckland. In 1845 Heke and Kawiti (an expert at designing modern pa able to resist
artillery bombardment) launched a campaign that threatened British control in
the north. But other Ngapuhi supported the government, and the conflict fizzled
out. (Read more about the Northern War).
On 17 June 1843, 22 Europeans and four Maori were killed when an armed
party of New Zealand Company settlers and Ngati Toa clashed over the
purchase of land in the Wairau valley near
today's town of Blenheim. The new Governor, Robert FitzRoy, maintained that the Maori had been provoked by the unreasonable actions of the Europeans and no further action was taken.
Then FitzRoy's successor, the energetic Governor George Grey moved to secure Wellington and Whanganui against allies of Te
Rauparaha. Fighting flared briefly but died away when other southern North
Island Maori backed the economically valuable Pakeha.
1850s brought uneasy peace. Settlers and sheep spread across the South Island, which had never had many Maori inhabitants.
But in the North Island most colonists remained stuck in
In 1854 the
first New Zealand parliament met in Auckland. Initially the Governor retained
more power but by 1856 the settlers had achieved ‘responsible’ government. The
development of responsible settler government reflected the increase in Pakeha
numbers. By 1858 there were more Europeans than Maori. As new settlements grew,
the pressure on Maori land increased. Most members of Parliament believed their
first responsibility was to the settlers who had elected them to office.
government had always intended for New Zealand to pay its own way. In
still held 80% of the North
Island. Many Maori had
taken up commercial farming to supply the settlers. Acquiring Maori land – especially land that Pakeha
deemed to be ‘wasteland’ or unoccupied – was an important part of that