Do you have ancestors that fought and died in the New Zealand Wars between 1860 and 1870? Discover your ancestor’s death date, rank, and corps in this index.
This collection of 193 transcripts is of nominal returns of officers and men, fighting on the side of the colonial forces, killed in action during the New Zealand Wars between 1860 and 1870.
Wendy Leahy compiled this index from The Defenders of New Zealand by Thomas Wayth Gudgeon and Maori History of the War by Lieutenant Colonel T. McDonnell.
The New Zealand Wars, previously known as the Māori Wars, began as a result of contested land purchases by the colonial government. The conflict between the colonial government and the Māori resistance reached its height in the 1860s, with the largest campaign, the Waikato invasion, occurring from 1863 to 64. At that time, the colonial government believed that the Māori resistance had unified to both block future land sales and deny Crown sovereignty and, as a result, the government brought in thousands of troops to combat the Māori King Movement (Kīngitanga) and possess their lands for British settlers.
The two sides were extremely imbalanced; the colonial forces comprised 18,000 British troops with the addition of artillery, cavalry, and local militia forces while the Māori side comprised just 4,000 warriors. The military forces of the New Zealand government, which included pro-government Māori, also joined the British troops. Despite the inequality of numbers and resources, the Māori were able resist the colonial forces using anti-artillery bunkers, fortified villages, and guerilla-type warfare. During the Taranaki and Waikato campaigns some 800 Europeans and 1,800 Māori lost their lives. It is estimated that the total loss of life on the Māori side during the wars exceeded 2,100.
The New Zealand Wars resulted in more land confiscation by the government, supposedly as a consequence of rebellion. While some of the land was subsequently paid for or returned, it was rarely returned to the original owners, and the confiscations had a lasting and detrimental impact on the growth and prosperity of those affected tribes.