NZ in the 19th Century

The 1800 New Zealand was entirely a Maori world. Maintained and organised by a number of strong beliefs, the Maori Society was based on iwi and hapū. The Maoris interaction with the European was predetermined by these. In the first half of the century, New Zealanders were only referred as Maoris.

With an estimated population of 100-120,000 in the 1800, the Maori Society was at the verge of an enormous transformation. A little part of this population were European sealers, traders, whalers etc who migrated in their hundreds. The Maori population was adversely affected by the inter-tribal Musket wars fought in the 1810s, 1820s and 1830s.

A fifth of the population lost their lives while thousands were captured by rival tribes. In the midst of all these, the Maori population was not outnumbered by the non-Maori population. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 leaving the Maori population between 70,000 to 90,000 and the non Maori population at barely 2000.


The European Exploration of NZ

Around December 1769, during a storm off Cape Maria Van Demien, Northland, it was recorded that French explorer Jean Francois Marie and Captain Cook unknowingly passed each other in a relative short distance. After Abel Tasman’s short 1642 encounter in New Zealand, Cook and Jean Francois were the second Europeans to touch the NZ soil. A thousand European ships had arrived the NZ shores by the 1830.

The European outburst to New Zealand was in three phases: They arrived in their hundreds before 1840, and between the 1840s and 1850s they increased in their thousands. By the 1860s their numbers increased to tens of thousands. The non- European world was crumbling under the weight of Europe’ expansion according to fatal impact theorists. At the end of the century, the talk of the ‘smoothing the dying pillow’ was being used to describe the Maori population as it fell a little over 40,000. The end of the Maori civilization was inevitably drawing close. In his book, James Belich described Maori as the ‘Great Survival Story Of Modern Times’

Maori Response to European Invasion

The end of the 19th century opened NZ further for more European migration: the Maori were receptive to the many new ideas that were attached with European contact. They were willing to engage in trading deals with the sealers, whalers and missionaries alike. The Christian religion that was being introduced by the Missionaries turned an increasingly essential feature around the 1830s in the Maori Society.

The people from one culture who lived with the other culture called the Kaiwhakarites or Intermediaries played an important role in bridging the cultural gap between the Europeans and the Maori. They also established and maintained trade networks.

The early 1830s ushered in the influx of European missionaries who called on Britain to take some intervention steps in New Zealand matters. The British were reluctant to intervene since it was bad business for Colonization that was booming at that point. They argued that New Zealand was not a Sovereign state so intervention was limited.


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