Find your ancestors in New Zealand War Medal Roll

What can these records tell me?

This index is of individuals who fought on the colonial side during the New Zealand Wars and applied for the New Zealand Medal for their service. The New Zealand Medal was given to British and colonial forces (including militiamen and volunteers) for campaign service in the New Zealand Wars for the years 1845-48, and 1860-66. The medal itself was established in 1869. To receive the award, colonial militia members had to prove that they had been under fire.

The details included in the transcripts include the following:

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Rank
  • Corps
  • Year
  • New Zealand war medal roll
  • Roll or list date
  • Roll or list
  • Roll or list description

These names were compiled from the Papers Relative to the Issue of the New Zealand War Medal. In the original publication, the names were divided into three parts:

  • Names of applicants who received the medal for services rendered before 31 December 1866
  • Names of applicants entitled to receive the medal for services rendered after 31 December 1866
  • Names of deceased officers and men entitled to the medal and whose relatives have received in their place

Discover more about the New Zealand Wars

The New Zealand Wars, once referred to as the Maori Wars, centered on contested land purchases by the colonial government and consisted of several conflicts between the colonial government and the Maori from 1845 to 1872. Believing that the Maori resistance had unified to block future land acquisition by the colonial government and contest the legitimacy of Crown sovereignty, the colonial government responded by bringing in thousands of troops to combat the Maori King Movement (Kingitanga). By the 1860s, the conflict between the colonial forces and the Maori forces reached its peak, with the largest campaign, the Waikato invasion, taking place from 1863 to 1864.

The colonial forces – including 18,000 British troops, artillery, cavalry, and local militia forces – vastly outnumbered that of the Maori. The Maori side comprised only 4,000 warriors. Despite the disparity in numbers and resources, the Maori were able to combat the colonial forces using anti-artillery bunkers, fortified villages, and guerilla-type warfare. Despite these efforts, the Maori side is estimated to have lost in excess of 2,100 lives during the wars.

The New Zealand Wars resulted in more land confiscation by the government, supposedly as a consequence of rebellion. While some of the land was subsequently paid for or returned, it was rarely returned to the original owners, and the confiscations had a lasting and detrimental impact on the growth and prosperity of those affected tribes.