New Zealand Wars (1840s-1870s)

Where can I find information about the New Zealand Wars?

Entry last updated: 22/06/21


The New Zealand Wars (ngā pakanga o Aotearoa), which happened between the 1840s and 1970s, were fought between Māori and government forces, which included British and colonial forces and kūpapa (Māori who fought on the side of the British).

Here is a list of when and where the major New Zealand Wars took place:

  • War in the North (1845 to 1846)
  • Central New Zealand: Wairau, Wellington & Whanganui (1843 to 1846)
  • War in Taranaki (1860 to 1861 & 1864 to 1866)
  • War in Tauranga (1864)
  • War in the Waikato (1863 to 1865)
  • The East Coast Wars (1865 to 1866)
  • Pai Mārire and the West Coast Campaigns (1864 to 1866)
  • The Story of Tītokowaru (1868 to 1869)
  • The Story of Te Kooti (1868 to 1872)

General websites

These New Zealand websites are the best place to find the most reliable information on the New Zealand Wars.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Scroll down the page to Sections and find the link called Government and Nation.
  • Select War and Defence to find links to the New Zealand wars.
  • Both these pages have a Story Summary (a short story) of these wars, and links to pages which give more detail.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!


NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .govt or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from government or educational organisations.

This website about the New Zealand Wars belongs to Danny Keenan, a Māori writer and historian (expert in history). It offers a Māori view on the wars fought between Māori and the Crown.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. The paragraph at the top of the page tells you why this website has been written. Also check Danny Keenan's Published Works to find a link to Writing this site which is about the author and what went into writing this site.


DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government websites all at once.

  • Type the search words 'New Zealand Wars' into the search box.
  • The results are grouped by type of information, like images, videos, newspapers, articles and research papers.
  • Select Videos to watch the five-part series The New Zealand Wars presented by New Zealand historian James Belich.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Topic Explorer (National Library)

Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It contains a wide range of resources that have have been selected from reliable national and international sources.

  • Type 'New Zealand Wars' into the search box.
  • You will find a range of articles, books, images, videos, primary sources, sets and websites on the New Zealand Wars.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg [New Zealand Wars]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

This website, which is part of Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand has over 3,000 biographies of New Zealanders including Māori and Pākehā leaders of the New Zealand Wars.

Tips: DNZB belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable. The other thing to keep in mind is that DNZB does not include people who are alive.


Your school library and local public library will have books about the New Zealand Wars. Here are some titles that we found:

SCIS no: 1956773

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