Skip to Main Content

Military Resources: New Zealand (Maori Wars)

This State Library of South Australia guide to military related information includes medals, militia and Australian involvement in conflicts. The emphasis is on South Australian resources.

New Zealand (Maori Wars) 1845 - 1872

Between 1845 and 1872 just over 2,500 Australian volunteers saw service in New Zealand. Though Australian born, troops all served in British regiments. The majority of these volunteers came from the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. 

The cause of all conflict between whites and the Maori people was land. The first conflict occurred in 1845 when Maori Chief Hone Heke attacked the settlement of Russell in the Bay of Islands on the North Island. British forces where sent from Auckland to defeat and capture Heke but the Maori chief and his warriors where skilled in the art of war and it took a local militia, troops rushed in from Australia and the diplomacy of the South Australian governor George Grey to force Hone Heke to sue for peace. This was considered the first Maori War.

By 1860 the grab for land again sparked conflict between whites and the Maoris, this time in the Waitara River area. The British with their 1000 troops soon found themselves facing some 20,000 skilled Maori warriors. Again the Australian colonies was asked for urgent assistance. The colonies rallied and sent troops. The colony of Victoria even sent its entire navy, which comprised the steam corvette HMVS Victoria. New South Wales also sent gun ships to support the troops. At the end of 1862 Governor George Grey again used his diplomatic skills to bring an end to the conflict.

Only a year later war broke out again, this time in the Waikato area. Again Australian troops came to the aid of local British forces.

Soon after the Waikato war the New Zealand Government decided to form a more permanent force and actively recruited troops from among the Australian colonies. They were offered land in exchange for service in the armed forces. Some 3600 Australians took up the offer. They were formed into the Waikato regiments


New Zealand Wars

Online newspaper articles

You can read historical newspaper articles from across Australia published at the time of the Maori Wars.

Te Arie Pah

From Alexander, James, Bush fighting, 1873. pg.236

Online resources

Search the library catalogue

There is more material available at the Library than is listed here. You can search for additional items on the catalogue using the search box on this page, in the top right hand corner underneath the orange tabs.

Suggested subject headings are: