Find your ancestors in New Zealand Wars officers and men killed 1860-1870

What can these records tell me?

This collection of 193 transcripts is of nominal returns of officers and men, fighting on the side of the colonial forces, killed in action during the New Zealand Wars between 1860 and 1870.

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Death year
  • Death date
  • Rank
  • Corps

Wendy Leahy compiled this index from The Defenders of New Zealand by Thomas Wayth Gudgeon and Maori History of the War by Lieutenant Colonel T. McDonnell.

Discover more about the New Zealand Wars

The New Zealand Wars, previously known as the Maori Wars, began as a result of contested land purchases by the colonial government. The conflict between the colonial government and the Maori resistance reached its height in the 1860s, with the largest campaign, the Waikato invasion, occurring from 1863 to 64. At that time, the colonial government believed that the Maori resistance had unified to both block future land sales and deny Crown sovereignty and, as a result, the government brought in thousands of troops to combat the Maori King Movement (Kingitanga) and possess their lands for British settlers.

The two sides were extremely imbalanced; the colonial forces comprised 18,000 British troops with the addition of artillery, cavalry, and local militia forces while the Maori side comprised just 4,000 warriors. The military forces of the New Zealand government, which included pro-government Maori, also joined the British troops. Despite the inequality of numbers and resources, the Maori were able resist the colonial forces using anti-artillery bunkers, fortified villages, and guerilla-type warfare. During the Taranaki and Waikato campaigns some 800 Europeans and 1,800 Maori lost their lives. It is estimated that the total loss of life on the Maori side during the wars exceeded 2,100.

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.