Background Causes

Memorial at Wairau, near Blenheim, commemorating those who died at the Wairau confrontation in 1843.

The ‘background causes’ of the New Zealand Wars have been much discussed by historians. For the purposes of this website, we have suggested four areas of discussion amongst which the issue of background causes can be located.

1    the contest for land – with settlers and Māori holding such different views on the value and use of land, conflict seemed inevitable; click here – # Contest for Land 

2   the impacts of new settlers, and the introduction of settler communities, law, economics and social/political morēs that seemed to exclude Māori; click here –  # Impacts of Settlers.

3   the impact on Māori of the Crown’s policy of ‘amalgamating’ Māori into the new Pākehā political mileau established after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; click here –# Amalgamating Māori. 

4   In the end, these causes contributed to the outbreak of disharmony amongst Māori, leading to war. Underlying much of the conflict which arose, up to the outbreak of violence at Kororareka in 1845, lay sharply differing views of the Treaty of Waitangi, between Māori and the Crown, differences that arguably would never be resolved.  To read more, see # the Treaty of Waitangi.

Inscription on Moutoa monument, Moutoa Gardens, Whanganui.


Immediate Causes

The wars – or individual conflicts within the wars – also had their immediate causes, or their ‘flash points’. Identifying these does have its problems because there were, arguably, so many. However, a selection of these is also discussed. Click here to see these  #immediate causes’.

Remember also – most histories of the New Zealand Wars do not include the earlier, savage Musket Wars of 1807-1845. To read a brief account of these wars, click here – # the Musket Wars.