Wairau/Northern Wars 1843-1846

The Wairau Massacre’ 

Memorial at Wairau to those who died during the 1843 confrontation17 June 1843     A confrontation occurred  at Wairau, near Blenheim, when a party of settlers from Nelson challenged members of Ngāti Toa iwi camped on disputed land. Twenty eight lives were lost during this tragic and unnecessary encounter.  See # Wairau Confrontation for an account of this confrontation.

The Northern War 

11 March 1845  Hone Heke Pokai and allies attacked the township of Kororareka, New Zealand’s first capital, burning it to the ground. Heke then retreated inland, pursued by the Brtish Army.

8 May 1845        The British Army caught up with Hone Heke at Puketutu, where a pitched battle took place. Puketutu was then Heke’s Pā. Many Māori died of bayonet wounds; many more were painfully wounded. This battle was probably the only occasion where Māori, perhaps rashly, rushed the British on the battle field.Ohaeawai today, with Church and cemetery located just outside original fortification walls

30 June – 1st July 1845     The battle of Ohaeawai where, following an artillery barrage, the British Army rushed a strong Māori fortification. Most Māori were concealed underground, firing at ground level from behind pickets and pekerangi (thatched outer walls).

The battle resulted in a major defeat for the British, who suffered 41 dead and 73 wounded.  Historian James Belich has argued  that ‘trench warfare was invented by Māori at Ohaeawai’.

11 January 1846    The British Army attacked the Māori Pā at Ruapekapeka. Though strongly constructed, Ruapekapeka’s hillside location exposed it to deadly British Artillery fire. After the British attack, the Māori defenders were persuaded to sue for peace, which they did. The Northern War was over.

To read more on the Northern War, click here – # Northern War .

To read Danny’s essay on Hone Heke, as published in the Mana Magazine, No 51, 2003, pp. 83-86, click here – # Essay on Hone Heke.  

To see a map showing the location of the Northern Wars, click here – # Map of Conflicts.