The New Zealand Wars was a five-part series detailing the history of Māori vs Pākehā armed conflict. It was presented by historian James Belich, who with his arm-waving zeal proved a convincing homegrown Simon Schama: "we don't need to look overseas for our Robin Hood, our Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, or Gandhi". The popular series reframed NZ history, and its stories of Hōne Heke, Governor Grey, Tītokowaru, Te Whiti, Von Tempsky and Te Kooti, easily affirmed Belich's conviction. The series won Best Documentary at the 1998 Qantas Media Awards.
In this excerpt from James Belich's award-winning history of Māori vs Pākehā armed conflict, tensions simmer in 1850s Taranaki and Waikato between land hungry settlers and Māori who don't want to sell. This resolve to retain their land results in, what is for Belich, "one of the most important developments in Māori political history" — the birth of the King Movement; but a new governor determined to reassert British authority exploits disunity between Māori factions and a disputed sale at Waitara culminates in "New Zealand's great civil war of the 1860s".
In this excerpt from James Belich's award-winning history of Māori vs Pākehā armed conflict, the focus returns to Taranaki, where the charismatic chief Tītokowaru had been promoting peace. But settler demands for land and confiscations exhaust his goodwill and he declares war. Vastly outnumbered, Titokowaru embarks on a devastatingly effective guerrilla campaign aimed at provoking his foes to attack him on his terms. As emotions rise, Tītokowaru's war escalates with the attack on Turuturumōkai Redoubt, an act of cannibalism, and his taunt "I shall not die ..."
This excerpt from the final part of James Belich's award-winning history of Māori vs Pākehā armed conflict focuses on Tūhoe prophet Rua Kēnana — the target of the last action of the New Zealand Wars in 1916 (73 years after hostilities began). He creates an independent community at Maungapōhatu in the Ureweras (complete with a remarkable meeting house). But any whiff of domestic dissent is intolerable for a government fighting a war overseas. Armed constabulary are sent to apprehend Rua on trumped up charges, with fatal results for two of his followers.
In this excerpt from James Belich's award-winning history of Māori vs Pākehā armed conflict, George Grey returns to the governorship in the wake of the costly Taranaki war. Now bitter, secretive and reluctant to share power, he talks peace while planning to strike at the heart of the King Movement in Waikato. As gunboats patrol the Waikato river and a great road is painstakingly built to take his army south, Grey fabricates plots and conspiracies, convincing London to send more troops and ships until the military balance of power tips in his favour.
This excerpt from the first episode of James Belich’s award-winning history of Māori vs Pākehā armed conflict examines growing Māori resentment following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The focus is on Ngā Puhi chief Hōne Heke, who sees few concessions to partnership. The refusal of the British to fly a Māori flag alongside the Union Jack particularly incenses him — and his celebrated acts of civil disobedience directed at this symbol of Imperial rule flying over the town Kororāreka (now Russell) lead to the outbreak of war in the north.
The series is available to purchase in a box set and as individual episodes from Aro Street Video Online.