The New Zealand Wars | Nga Pakanga o Aotearoa

The New Zealand Wars | Nga Pakanga o Aotearoa

The New Zealand Wars were a series of conflicts that profoundly shaped the course and direction of our nation’s history.

Fought between the Crown and various groups of Māori between 1845 and 1872, the wars touched many aspects of life in nineteenth century New Zealand, even in those regions spared actual fighting. Physical remnants or reminders from these conflicts and their aftermath can be found all over the country, whether in central Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, or in more rural locations such as Te Pōrere or Te Awamutu.

The wars are an integral part of the New Zealand story but we have not always cared to remember or acknowledge them. Today, however, interest in the wars is resurgent. Public figures are calling for the wars to be taught in all schools and a national day of commemoration was recently established.

Following on from the best-selling The Great War for New Zealand, Vincent O'Malley's new book provides a highly accessible introduction to the causes, events and consequences of the New Zealand Wars. The text is supported by extensive full-colour illustrations as well as timelines, graphs and summary tables.

Vincent O'Malley delivers the Michael King Memorial Lecture, 17 May 2019 (audio, 59'24").

'Our Heritage with Dr Vincent O'Malley' at the 2019 Marlborough Book Festival (audio, 62'07").

Available to order in paperback using the ‘Buy’ button on this page. For more information on these purchase options please visit our Sales FAQs page or email us.

Print publication:
Ebook publication: May 2019
Pages: 272
RRP: $39.99
ISBN: 9781988545998
DOI: 10.7810/9781988545998

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Selected by the New Zealand Listener as one of the best books of 2019!

Selected by the New Zealand Herald as one of the best non-fiction books of the year!

Shortlisted for the Nonfiction Book Award at the New Zealand Heritage Book & Writing Awards 2019


'Leading historian Vincent O’Malley discusses The New Zealand Wars', interview by Mihingarangi Forbes in front of an audience at Te Papa, Smart Talk on RNZ, 27 October 2019 (includes audio, 49'02'') .

'Knowledge and understanding of NZ wars and the pathway to reconciliation', Deena Coster, Stuff, 26 October 2019.

'The New Zealand Wars | Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa', Gerry Te Kapa Coates, Te Karaka, 7 October 2019 (book review).

'The New Zealand Wars | Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa', Tony Eyre, Tui Motu, September 2019 (book review).

'Our trail of tears: the story of Ihumātao', Vincent O'Malley, The Spinoff, 27 July 2019.

'AWF19: Vincent O’Malley gives the Michael King Memorial Lecture', Marcus Hobson, The Reader, 10 June 2019.

'Vincent O’Malley: Why we need to open up about past Māori and Pākehā conflict', Sally Blundell, Stuff, 28 May 2019 (syndicated from the New Zealand Listener).

'Vincent O’Malley: Why we need to open up about past Māori and Pākehā conflict', Sally Blundell, New Zealand Listener, 26 May 2019.

'Vincent O'Malley - The New Zealand Wars/ Nga Pakanga o Aotearoa', Saturday Morning on RNZ, 25 May 2019 (audio, 42'11'') .

'What caused the New Zealand Wars?', (book extract), e-Tangata, 19 May 2019.

'New Zealand Wars, Land Wars, or Māori Wars — why does the name matter?', (book extract), e-Tangata, 19 May 2019.

'The New Zealand Wars: Historian Vincent O'Malley says we need to confront our 'bloody history''', Michael Neilson, New Zealand Herald, 18 May 2019.

'Vincent O'Malley - Historian and Author on Paakiwaha', Waatea News, 13 May 2019. (audio, 12'56").

'Vincent O'Malley and the battle to learn our history', Mihingarangi Forbes, The Hui, 12 May 2019. (video, 5'04").

'National portrait: Vincent O'Malley, historian of the New Zealand Wars', Philip Matthews, Stuff, 11 May 2019.

'Is it time to make NZ history compulsory in our schools?', Q+A, TVNZ, 6 May 2019 (video, 7'31'').


‘I believe Vincent O'Malley's research will be the single most important historical body of work produced in my lifetime. Finally we have a narrative which carefully weaves both the accounts of the British Colonial government with those of hapū rangatira. While not all New Zealanders are ready to confront our past, this work will serve as a taonga for future generations. He mahi taipari whakarewa waka ngā whakaaro tēnei.’
Mihingarangi Forbes, journalist

‘This book should be core curriculum for all New Zealanders . . . With every page, O’Malley exposes the nation’s deep wounds to the light and applies the healing balm of truth. I really wish this book had been available when I was studying New Zealand history at high school!’
Arama Rata, University of Waikato

‘The text is an excellent first-up introduction to the causes, course, outcomes and legacy of the New Zealand Wars, strong on context then and now, and very readable. It is well balanced between the various campaigns, with less well known episodes receiving good attention, such as fighting on the East Coast and in the Bay of Plenty.’
Nigel Prickett, archaeologist

‘The distinctive character of this work is its use of the recent research conducted for the Waitangi Tribunal. The tribunal research significantly informs the discussion of the origins of particular conflicts. The sense of broken promises and unfair pretexts on the part of Pākehā governments is well presented . . . this is a fine work which should be of use for people who know very little about the New Zealand Wars and should be of particular value in schools.’
Jock Phillips, historian

‘This is a readable historical narrative that will appeal to teachers (including those who are not history specialists) and many secondary school students. Vincent’s attention to the causes of the New Zealand Wars is well suited to students in years 11–13 studying “the causes and consequences of an historical event”. The book clearly positions the New Zealand Wars as a contemporary, contested issue that matters deeply today, making it ideal for social studies teachers exploring contested memories of the past. I think this will be a hit in school libraries across the country.’
Michael Harcourt, education specialist

‘This book provides an excellent narrative of the New Zealand Wars for general readers, including high school students. . . . My hope is that it will spark further interest in these crucial events from New Zealand's past and encourage students and teachers to get out of their classrooms, visit the sites where events took place, and explore them for themselves."
Gregor Fountain, Principal, Wellington College


'The beauty of this book is that the well-written chapters are supported by high quality pictures, maps and images of important artefacts from the time. Additional graphs and information also enhance a quality piece of work. O’Malley does well to pick out some of the smaller, near-forgotten, stories of these conflicts, such as Te Ahuahu in Northland, Hauraki and Hūnua, Rotoiti and Te Ngutu-o-te-manu, thereby ensuring that these important events are remembered. That said, he also does justice to some of the better-known battles, such as Ruapekapeka, Wairau, Rangariri, Orakau, Pukehinahina/Gate Pā, Turuturumōkai and Ngātapa.'
– Carl Bradley, New Zealand Journal of History, 54: 1, 2020.

'When this book arrived my initial reaction was, "Do we really need another potted history of the New Zealand Wars?" After reading it my answer is "Yes, we really do need this one."... O'Malley calmly and persuasively outlines the background to each cluster of conflicts, what fighting took place and what the outcomes were, all of it marvelously illustrated with contemporary pictures.'
– New Zealand Herald, 13 December 2019.

'The book, short though it is, enhances O’Malley’s reputation as the leading historian of the New Zealand Wars. He demonstrates complete mastery of the complex issues that have defeated others before him, and understands the importance of the wars to New Zealand today.'
– Lyndall Ryan, History Australia, November 2019.

'O’Malley’s influential work perfectly captures the zeitgeist of 2019 Aotearoa New Zealand, a nation with an increasing appetite for devouring an accurate retelling of the wars that shaped it.'
– Kristyn Harman, Journal of Pacific History, October 2019.

'It is very readable, with fine half-page illustrations – photographs taken of those of the times, both historic and recent artwork, and maps of conflict areas. Class sets should be mandatory in New Zealand schools.'
– Gerry Te Kapa Coates, Te Karaka, 7 October 2019.

'This is also a very attractive book, interspersed with photographs, maps and colour images of early colonial drawings and watercolours and the book design and layout, with plenty of sub-headings, makes the narrative very readable and engaging.'
– Tony Eyre, Tui Motu, September 2019.

'The New Zealand Wars | Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa is well-written & illustrated, and comprises another forward step in establishing a truthful & accurate history of the founding years of our nation. It suggests itself as compulsory reading in our schools’ history classes.'
– Barry Keane, The Reader, 25 June 2019.

'This is an outstanding work. O'Malley calmly and persuasively outlines the background to each cluster of conflicts, what fight took place and the outcomes, all marvellously illustrated with contemporary pictures.'
– New Zealand Herald, 17 June 2019.

'The first thing most readers will notice is the unusually high standard of illustrations. In fact, they occupy nearly half of the book's pages, and constitute as profuse, fine and informative a selection of pictures as we have seen in a New Zealand history.'
– Paul Little, North & South, June 2019.

'We are still a nation in shock from the Christchurch massacre, so you could feel the attention of the audience focus on the speaker when he said this wasn’t an unprecedented event. The change of mood was tangible. Māori lost their lives in a similar way. O’Malley’s message is a simple one. We need to grow up. We need to act like grown-ups and own our history, warts and all.'
– Marcus Hobson, The Reader, 10 June 2019 (reviewing Vincent O'Malley's 2019 Michael King Memorial Lecture).