Waikato Wars – Deep Parts Of NZ History

The Waikato Wars are a significant historical event in New Zealand’s history, occurring between 1863 and 1864 between the British settlers and Maori indigenous people. There are a few notable causes which are considered important in the wider picture, for example; the long-standing tension and conflicts between the Maori and the British due to the different beliefs and social customs each group had, as well as the Kingitanga movement of Maori Sovereignty based on the interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi and Governor Grey’s response to this. Historians disagree as to the most important causes of the Waikato Wars, as some see the Kingitanga movement as the most latent but important cause of the Waikato Wars, while others argue for the importance of the conflicts over land. Finally, others approach the idea through the social and political conditions of the time brought by the continued conflict and tension between the British and Maori people.

The Waikato Wars have had a significant impact, some of which is still seen today. Considering this, it can be argued that as the impact is still seen today that at the time of the Waikato Wars the immediate consequences significantly changed people’s lives. The immediate consequences of the Waikato Wars were; the land acquisition performed by the government, the population decline of Maori due to the number of casualties and outright discrimination towards Maori people.

Arguably, the socio-political conditions prior to the Waikato Wars are the most important cause of the event, as the social customs of each race were significantly different and causing issues for the nation. Since the colonisation of New Zealand in the 19th century, the British settlers displayed a superiority complex, in which they believed that the British were superior to any other race and therefore to be treated accordingly. This belief began to infringe on the social customs and beliefs of the Maori people specifically around ideas of land and justice. The British tried to persuade Maori to follow their laws and rules and when peaceful intervention didn’t work the British began enforcing rules and regulations using conflict. During this time the British conducted unfair relations with the Maori people. The Musket Wars in the 1920s led to the Treaty of Waitangi [1840] which aimed at solving the tension and conflicts between the Maori and the British, but it could be argued that the Treaty of Waitangi was biased to support the British settlers in their conquest for dominance.

Sophie Simons
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