The New Zealand Wars or The Land Wars happened between 1845 and 1872. The wars were actually made up of lots of battles around New Zealand. It was some iwi vs the government, British forces and their Māori allies (friends). The battles happened at different times in different places. For example, there was war in Northland between 1845-1846. The battles in North Taranaki happened in 1860- 1861. While the wars were all separate, they all started because of the same problem. The Government were making lots of decisions that hurt Māori. The biggest problem was that they were selling lots of land, forcing Māori to move from their homes. In the beginning, Pākehā were making ‘deals’ with Māori to buy land. They might trade land for guns or other items. Māori at this point had a different idea of land sale than Pākehā – they were trading for Pākehā to use the land, not own it as a possession. This caused some big problems.
Trouble in Wellington
In 1846, some fighting started to break out between British troops and Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Rangatahi. They were fighting over who owned the land. Governor Grey was the Pākehā man in charge at the time, kind of like a prime minister. He ordered that the British troops should rule Wellington to try and take control of the situation. This forced the local iwi to stop the fighting as they were outnumbered and didn’t have as many weapons. A few settlers were killed in this time, so Governor Grey arrested some of the people he thought were responsible.They were from a different iwi, Ngāti Toa. They even arrested an elderly rangatira. Being chased by the British troops and some Māori, Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Rangatahi had to flee from Wellington. They went all the way to Poroutawhao, where they were left to settle. All three iwi had to leave their homes because of Governor Grey’s decision and the land sales.
By 1860, almost the entire South Island was sold to Pākehā! North Island Māori saw how much land was being sold and wanted to stop or slow down the land sales. Arahura was sold for $600 new zealand dollars which would be the same as $160,981 in today’s money. This might seem like a lot, but the average cost of one house in auckland at the moment is $1,009,000.