Success experienced by Maori and Pakeha forces

The wars of 1860-64, and the resulting times of peace, were probably had the most influential impact on race relations for the rest of the century and even further into the future than any other event in NZ history.

The British suffered 20%[i] of their force being killed or wounded and were forced to retreat from battle. The Maori denied the Pakeha a clear, decisive victory – the very thing they were looking for.

A ceasefire was arranged on the 18th March 1861[ii]. It made sure not to recognise Maori King as a sovereign leader representing all Maori. The natives had to return what they had taken or stolen from Pakeha in the wars (possessions etc.), British law still had to be followed, Pakeha were to gain compensation but, the one consolation was that the ownership of Waitara would be investigated.

The problems of land ownership and sovereignty were unresolved as the war had no victor.


“Maori forces running into battle illustrating the leadership of the Maori, through what appears to be a depiction call and response shouts battle cries.”[iii]

Grey could not gain friendship with Kingitanga chiefs or persuade them to join his cause when he was re-appointed Governor in 1861[iv]; they all refused to sell him land.

Conflict with Maori under Grey was as unsuccessful as before under Governor Browne, resulting in no clear victors. In June 1863, the British force defeated a small group of Maori and this victory was deemed “good enough” for the public and Grey as a justification of their success and superiority – while really it meant nothing. Still no resolution regarding ownership, recognition of sovereignty or rangitiratanga was established.

The Maori gained the highest level of success in that they did not allow the British forces to overcome them. They held strong and managed to maintain possession of their land which they valued highly due to its connections to “mana”, pride and spirituality. However, no significant resolution or compromise was reached between them and the opposing Pakeha and settler force. Although to a lesser extent, they also suffered relatively large numbers of casualties due to the combat.


By Michael Chaplin

[i] “Crisis in Race Relations: Authority, Land and War New Zealand 1853-65” by Graham Langton