Find your ancestors in New Zealand, Nelson, petition after the Wairau incident 1843

Each record includes a transcript and while the amount of information listed varies widely, most transcripts include the following about your ancestor:

  • Name
  • Year
  • Occupation
  • The newspaper in which they appeared
  • Additional notes

Given the loss of many early New Zealand census records, these records can act as a census substitute for Nelson in 1844.

Discover more about these records

These records include information on over 500 citizens of Nelson, New Zealand, who in 1844 signed a petition regarding the Wairau Affray, or incident, which had occurred the previous year.

The petition was created to express these settlers’ dissatisfaction with the actions of Governor FitzRoy following the Wairau incident of 1843, which was the first significant armed conflict between Maori and British settlers to occur after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

The Wairau incident, which occurred on 17 June 1843, refers to a clash between the New Zealand Company settlers and the local Ngati Toa people regarding the settlement of the Wairau Valley. The New Zealand Company claimed to have rightfully purchased land in the Cook Strait region and began to establish settlements in the area. Nelson was the second such settlement that the Company setup in the region. The Maori contested the validity of the settlers’ claim to the land. However, it wasn’t until the Company sought to move into the Wairau Valley, located southeast of Nelson, that relations between the two groups began to rapidly deteriorate. The Ngati Toa were insistent that even if the supposed 1839 purchases of land by the Company were valid, they did not include the lands of the Wairau Valley.

Tensions mounted after Te Rauparaha and Te Rangiheaeta, two Ngati Toa chiefs, tried to evict the settlers by burning their temporary dwellings. In retaliation, the Company decided to arrest Te Rauparaha and Te Rangiheaeta for arson and sent 49 Europeans to ensure their success. It was during this attempted arrested that conflict broke out between the two sides. In total, 22 Europeans and 4 Maori were killed near present-day Blenheim on New Zealand’s South Island.

Following these events, the newly appointed Governor of New Zealand, Robert FitzRoy, investigated the incident and judged that the Europeans had provoked the Maori. Furthermore, he exonerated Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata. The supposed land purchases by the New Zealand Company were also found to be invalid. The ruling of Governor FitzRoy angered local settlers who felt he should have avenged the death of so many Europeans, especially those who had surrendered before being killed. They felt strongly enough on this point that the following year they signed and sent a petition to the British House of Commons, from which these records were transcribed. This petition, along with active lobbying against FitzRoy from the New Zealand Company, lead to FitzRoy being recalled in 1845. He was replaced by Governor George Grey.

Compiled by Diane Wilson, the names that appear on this index were originally listed in the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle on 15 June, 1844. See the link in the Useful Links & Resources section to read the full text of the petition.