Unrestrained Slaughter; The Maori Musket Wars 1800-1840 By John Robinson
This is a brief account for the general reader of the deadliest and most gruesome chapter in New Zealand’s history - the Musket Wars in which around one third of the Maori population were killed. The wars were a continuation of the inter-tribal fighting that had been a feature of native life ever since the tribes arrived in New Zealand in their canoes but the introduction of muskets increased the killing to an industrial scale.
Tribes were decimated and forced from their homelands, usually to poorer land, and to attack others, bringing bloodshed, widespread insecurity and social breakdown. Deaths demanded revenge (utu) and more killing. The resulting arms race created an economy based on the frantic production of flax and other goods to be traded for ever more muskets as a matter of self- preservation. Eventually northern chiefs, who had had the most contact with European traders, sea captains, etc., realised the futility of the constant fighting which, had it continued, might well have driven the tribes to extinction. They began to listen to the missionaries and sought a single sovereign power that would be strong enough to keep the peace among tribes; that could only be the British Crown. They themselves became part of the massive cultural change in Maoridom, starting the movement away from the old divisive and tribal ways towards a more collective and peaceful approach to issues.
This led them to ask for British sovereignty, which came with the Treaty of Waitangi and other events of 1840. In fact, but for the seemingly insoluble horrors and social chaos of the Musket Wars the chiefs might not have been so eager to embrace the rule of Queen Victoria. With the introduction of British law, conflict resolution would henceforth be through the courts and not by bloody conflict. With the Treaty setting our beautiful islands on to a new and safer path, the Musket Wars were brought to an end.
Type: Soft Cover
Pages: 130 pages of text + 8 pages of maps/photos
Price: $30.00 plus postage: