Thousands of Maori died in the intertribal Musket Wars of the 1810s, 1820s and 1830s. Many more were enslaved or became refugees. Northern rivals Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Whātua led the way, but all the tribes were soon trading for muskets.

Muskets (ngutu parera) changed the face of intertribal warfare, decimating some tribes and drastically altering the rohe (territorial boundaries) of others. By the 1830s campaigns had become too costly. With European diseases also taking a heavy toll, warfare gave way to economic rivalry.

By this time thousands of Māori had fled their traditional lands, freeing large areas for Pākehā (European) settlement and complicating questions of ownership. 

next button Next page: Overview

How to cite this page: 'The Musket Wars', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/new-zealands-19th-century-wars/the-musket-wars, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 18-Mar-2014