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New Zealand Wars, Land Wars, or Māori Wars?

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The following extract from The New Zealand Wars/Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoafirst appeared in E-Tangata


What historians and others have called the wars has changed over time. Why is this of interest? Do names really matter?

Well, they do because they convey key messages about the nature of the wars, their causes and participants. For a long time, it was common to refer to this series of conflicts as “the Māori Wars”.
That was consistent with the British tendency to name wars after their enemies; for instance, the Boer War, the Zulu War, or the Indian Mutiny. But there are some obvious problems with such a label. For a start, it tends to sheet home responsibility for the wars to Māori, rendering the other combatants invisible.

In the 1960s, some historians tried to correct this by adopting the label “the Anglo–Māori Wars”. But this is also a problem, in that some Māori fought on the “Anglo” (that is, British or Crown) side. And given estimates that up to 40 per cent of the imperi…