Finding Māori in the New Zealand Wars
Learn how to find Māori in records connected to the New Zealand Wars (also known as the Māori Wars and Land Wars) – including medal applications, registers, letters and lists of people who were killed or taken prisoner.
We hold a wide range of records that document the New Zealand Wars between Māori and colonial government forces from 1845 to 1872. These records document Māori involvement both for and against the Crown, and are a rich resource for Māori researchers tracing whānau and iwi histories.
Searching Ingoa Māori
You can find information about Māori and the New Zealand Wars in medal applications, registers, correspondence, and on lists of those killed or taken prisoner.
The best place to start is with a keyword search using our collections search tool. The record titles are listed as they were written at the time, which means:
Māori names may be spelled incorrectly or as one word
spellings and phrasings may have changed over time
a person’s name might be entered using initials or an alias.
When you’re searching for people, places, landmarks, or events, it’s a good idea to try different variations, without macrons.
Ngai Tahu/Kai Tahu/Ngaitahu/Kaitahu
hauhau/ hauhaus / hau haus / hau hau
Māori and the New Zealand War Medal
The New Zealand War Medal was awarded to most British soldiers who served in New Zealand in the 1840s and 1860s. It was only awarded to colonial troops, including Māori, who could prove they had come under enemy fire. Because an application was required, many files contain character references and information about the battles the person fought in.
You can find applications from Māori who fought for the Crown within the Māori Contingent (1845-1847 and 1860-1872) by searching the Māori War Series.
At the Wellington archive, we hold an alphabetical New Zealand War Medal card index for soldiers who applied for or were awarded the medal. These cards have been listed by name and can be found using our collections search tool.
Finding Māori in 19th-century correspondence
You can often find mentions of people by name in government correspondence to and from departments. This includes letters, field reports, and despatches. Those mentioned are likely to be prominent people or militia leaders.
The New Zealand War Medal Card Index may note if a person is mentioned in Series 8638. This series of letters and registered files contains records of the Colonial Defence Office, the Militia and Volunteers and the Defence Office.
You can view the Card Index at the Wellington archive. If you can’t visit Wellington, one of our archivists can check it for you.
Find out more
There are many other records that give insight into Māori involvement in the New Zealand Wars. More information can be found in our War research guides and in the New Zealand Wars album on our Flickr page.
If you can’t visit our reading rooms, you can send us a research request.
Last updated on 12 May 2022