The End of the Wars 

Oakura Marae, Oakura, near New Plymouth.By 1872, the wars against Māori were over.

The last shots were fired by the Armed Constabulary at Mangaone, south of Waikaremoana, on 14 February 1872.

Thereafter, Te Kooti Rikiranga and his few remaining followers crossed over into the King Country, accepting King Tawhaio’s offer of safe refuge on the condition that Te Kooti, who had fought against the Crown since 1869, lay down his weapons, which he did.

1872, then, saw the final exchanges of gunfire between settlers and Māori which had started 29 years earlier, at Wairau on 17 June 1843. This section discusses five important consequences of these sustained military actions, especially on Māori.

Elsewhere on this site, however, we argue that, though the gunfire went silent in 1872, the wars against Māori effectively continued – the land wars were ‘wars without end’.  The consequences below are discussed in their own right, showing how each one arose. Elsewhere, however, these consequences and others are presented a little differently, as a part of the notion that the wars against Māori were never over, and did indeed continue.


The wars impacted upon Māori in five important ways.

Site of Rutland Stockade, Whanganui.1  Māori Land Loss   When the wars were over, or even before the fighting had ended, the government embarked upon its vigorous programme of Māori land acquisition. To read more, click here –  # Māori Land Loss. 

2  Māori Population Decline   Māori population numbers went into a steep decline from 1840. An estimated population of 90,000 had fallen to approximately 60,000 by 1860. Thereafter, the population would fall by another 20,000 to its lowest point of 39,000 in 1896.  To read more, click here – # Māori population.

3   Māori Awarded the Vote    In 1867, Māori were awarded four special seats in Parliament, having waited for 27 years since the signing of the Treaty to acquire participation in Government. And the tribes did not see this granting of the vote entirely in positive terms. To read more, click here – # Awarding the Māori Vote.   

The site today of the Omata Stockade which overlooked the southern access into New Plymouth in the 1860s.4   The Māori Economy   Prior to the wars, Māori had generally made a successful transition from the subsistence economies of the pre-contact era to the market economy introduced by Pākehā. Evidence exists to show that tribes in some parts of the country were faring with relative success. However, the wars changed all this, devastating most Māori economies and leaving only ruin behind. To read more, click here – # the Māori Economy.

5 The Search for Māori Political Autonomy  Some historians, like James Belich, have argued that the New Zealand Wars were, in the end, a contest over the sovereignty of New Zealand; who ever won the war, won the country. This view emphasizes how, as a consequence of the war and legislation that followed, Māori were significantly disempowered and would spend the next decades struggling to acquire their lost political autonomy. To read more, click here # Māori Political Autonomy.