Fatal Necessity

Fatal Necessity

British Intervention in New Zealand, 1830–1847

A detailed examination of the circumstances leading to British intervention and hence to the Treaty of Waitangi, Fatal Necessity was first published in 1977.

Now re-issued as an e-book, this key text in Treaty studies emphasises that the dual aim of British policy was to protect both settlers and Māori; the reality, however, proved very different.

Available in ebook formats from booksellers and using the ‘Buy’ buttons on this page. For more information on these purchase options please visit our Sales FAQs page or contact us.

Table of contents


Part I - The Making of a British Colony 1830-1840
1 The New Zealand Frontier
2 The British Response to the Frontier
3 Pressures for Change
4 Colonial Office Policy-Making
5 The Annexation of New Zealand

Part II - The Meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840-1847
6 Land and Colonization
7 Law and Custom
8 The Obligations of Good Faith

Ebook publication:
Pages: 308
RRP: $16.99
ISTC: A022013000006248
DOI: 10.7810/9781927277195

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One of 10 books on NZIER's Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister 2019!


'The discipline of history is essentially a process of eliciting knowledge from incomplete information, and it is always a dialogue among the present, the past and the future. If you want to learn some New Zealand history this is a must-read.'
– NZIER's Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister 2019.

'It is hard to find a flaw in this lucid and acute analysis of the factors and pressures involved in the British takeover of this country ... this clear-headed statement of cause and effect, motive and attitude ... all backed by meticulous and exhaustive research, is a vital contribution to a realistic understanding of our political history and race relations.'
– Philip Temple, PEN International award judge 1978

'Dr Adams's argument is almost always cogent and clear. Often he offers insights or formulations which are sure to be repeated for many years.'
– Keith Sinclair, Times Literary Supplement


PEN International first book of non-fiction award, 1978