History, British Rule
Potatau, Te Wherowhero, New Zealand Wars, Pakeha, British sovereignty
Britain acquired nominal sovereignty over New Zealand in 1840, by proclamation and by agreement with many Maori. British sovereignty was established by the Treaty of Waitangi, signed at Waitangi in February 1840, and elsewhere later that year, by Maori chiefs. British officials eventually collected 512 Maori signatures, and on May 21, 1840, New Zealandís North Island was declared a British colony. On neighboring South Island, however, they did not collect enough signatures to establish a British colony by treaty. In June British officials simply annexed South Island and declared it part of the colony.
The English-language version of the treaty granted Maori full British citizenship and guaranteed their property rights while it bestowed full sovereignty to Britain. In Maori-language versions, Maori retained rights of chieftainship, which could be interpreted as at least partial sovereignty. These differing perceptions led to localized conflicts between British and Maori in the 1840s, but there was also a surprising degree of cooperation between the two peoples. Maori soon realized, however, that to continue traditional feuds among themselves detracted from their ability to address the steady encroachment of Europeans, whom they called Pakeha, onto their tribal lands. Maori tribal groups began holding large meetings on the subject in the early 1850s. They established a Maori pan-tribal organization, the Maori King Movement, in 1858 to unite Maori and stop the sale of land to Europeans. Te Wherowhero was proclaimed the first Maori king, reigning as Potatau I.
Mounting tensions culminated in the New Zealand Wars, which broke out in Taranaki in 1860, spread across the North Island, and continued until 1872. Colonial governor George Grey masterminded the British war effort between 1861 and 1867. He succeeded in obtaining 12,000 imperial troops from the British government. Important Maori resistance leaders included Rewi Maniapoto, Titokowaru, and Te Kooti Rikirangi. Maori won many battles by using innovative trench-warfare techniques, but in the end they were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and resources of the British. After the wars pockets of Maori independence persisted until 1916. That year the last armed conflict took place in the isolated Urewera Mountains, in the eastern North Island.
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