Bruce Moon, Hongi Hika, Marion du Fresne, Musket Wars, Ngapuhi, Te Rauparaha, Te Waharoa, Te Whero Whero

Bruce Moon: Before 1840

Musket Warriors
This illuminating article by Bruce Moon (no relation to Paul) appeared in the Northland Age last Thursday.


It is a curious fact that there are many part-Maoris today (though certainly not all) who have remarkably good memories about their alleged sufferings since 1840, but completely blank minds about what happened to them any earlier.

It is not hard to work out why this should be.

But it is more helpful, perhaps, to assist them in remembering a bit more about their earlier days.

When Europeans first arrived in New Zealand, Maoris were an aggressive warrior race, ready to attack for the slightest reason, as Tasman found out quickly to his cost. [1]

This happened again when, just over a couple of years after Captain Cook, Marion du Fresne arrived off our shores.

While fishing innocently in calm waters, as he thought, he broke a tapu unknown to him.

His fate was sealed.

He and 26 of his crew were massacred and eaten forthwith. [2]

As Lieutenant Roux, one of Marion’s officers, noted in his diary, the chiefs

“declare war upon the slightest pretext, which wars are very bloody; they generally kill any prisoners they may capture”.

Not content with dispatching Marion, about 1500 tribesmen assembled to attack the hospital the French had set up on Moturua Island.

Greatly outnumbered, the French defended themselves valiantly, using their firearms, of course.

And, with no further losses, they killed about 250 of the attackers, including many chiefs who were very conspicuous amongst them.

From this episode, the tribes quickly learnt two lessons.

The first was an enduring mortal fear of the “tribe of Marion”, confirmed ninety years later by Rev. John Warren. [3]

It was one reason of many chiefs for signing the Treaty of Waitangi (though to terminate the carnage of the Musket Wars which followed, was another).

The second lesson was of the vast superiority of European firearms over their traditional weapons. So bargaining for firearms with visiting ships became a highly important activity.

The culmination was Hongi Hika’s return from a visit to England with several hundred muskets, many exchanged in Sydney for gifts he had received.

This was soon followed by the most intense slaughter of the so-called Musket Wars amongst the tribes.

Hongi’s party returning from England reached the Bay of Islands on 11 July 1821. Shortly afterwards, he began to prepare for his campaign.

On 5 September, two thousand Ngapuhi, armed with one thousand muskets, laid siege to Mauinaina pa at Tamaki.

It was taken with great slaughter – those killed including Te Hinaki and 2000 of his men, as well as many women and children.

The victorious force remained on the battlefield eating the vanquished until they were driven off by the smell of decaying bodies.

It has been noted that “deaths in this one action during the inter-tribal Musket Wars outnumber all deaths in 25 years of the sporadic New Zealand Wars.” [4] (Our emphasis)

In December 1821, Hongi attacked, but failed to take, the Ngati Maru pa Te Totara.

Upon an idea said to be from his blind and bloodthirsty wife, Turi, he decided upon treachery.

A large party of Ngapuhi chiefs went to the pa to offer peace, which was accepted. They received two meres from the Ngati Maru to seal the deal.

In the night, Ngapuhi returned to the unguarded pa and slew those within — except the sons of the senior chiefs, who were taken prisoners.

Hongi drank the blood of one chief’s son while he was still alive.

Proceeding thence to the Waikato pa of Matakitaki, Ngapuhi attacked it with withering musket fire.

Even though the Waikato were led by chief Te Whero Whero, with only four muskets they were virtually defenceless.

Trying to escape, many hundreds were trampled to death in the deep ditch surrounding the pa, or by Ngapuhi firing down upon them until tired of reloading.

Hongi’s opponent, Te Waharoa of Ngatihaua, was equally bloodthirsty.

He is reputed to have been the equal of Hongi, and to have terrified Te Rauparaha and even Te Whero Whero.

Te Waharoa concluded an uneasy peace with the Ngati Maru chief, Takurua.

Then he and his tribe arose at midnight and massacred in cold blood the too-confiding Takurua and nearly every man of his tribe.

Their bodies were devoured, and their wives and property were shared by the ruthless Ngatihauas.

Te Whero Whero, for his part, decided to make war in Taranaki, and attack the formidable pa of Pukerangiora.

When the starving defenders broke and ran, Waikato attacked.

It is said at least 200 escapees died immediately, with Te Whero Whero killing 150 single-handedly with blows to the head.

It was only when his arm grew tired and swollen he was forced to stop.

Those captives with finely tattooed faces were beheaded carefully on a wooden block, so their heads could be preserved.

Later, dozens of slaves were dragged away, carrying the heads of their relatives to be hung as war trophies in the Waikato villages in the north.

It is thought that as many as 1200 Te Ati Awa people lost their lives at Pukerangiora.

Those that stayed behind in the pa watched the awful fate of their whanau unfold before them.

The scene that followed was terrible, with huge numbers of the dead gutted and spit-roasted over fires.

Some Waikato warriors indulged in a feast of such gluttony that they died.

Te Rauparaha was sometimes called “the Maori Napoleon” (but more accurately perhaps “the Maori Genghis Khan”).

He perceived that the Waikato were probably too strong for his Ngatitoa tribe.

So he commenced a long migration south, inflicting heavy slaughter upon Rangitane on the way.

Establishing himself on Kapiti Island, Te Rauparaha commenced an invasion of the South Island. He almost exterminated the northern tribes.

Then he fell upon the Ngai Tahu, first at Kaikoura, then Kaiapohia, and in 1832 upon Onawe, with bloody massacres, cannibalism and slavery in each.

The Ngai Tahu had already been weakened by their own “Kai Huaka” or “eat relation” feud.

These are but a sample of incidents from almost continuous warfare amongst Maori tribes in the decades before 1840.

By John Robinson’s careful estimates, 35,400 were killed in a population numbering around 127,000 in 1800, with more dying from wounds. [5]

The social impact must have been profound.

Paul Moon refers to

  • the “pervasive sense that communities faced the threat of destruction at the hands of their foes”
  • the “heightened state of fear that dominated most if not all Maori communities”, and
  • the “relentless and intense social stresses”.

He suggests that the consequences may still be felt today. [6]

It becomes clear that it is high time that this important part of our history should be recognized, and faced squarely.

It should be borne in mind when facing the substantial social problems which confront New Zealand society today.

Perhaps, for a start, a substantial part of the massive “treaty settlement” which Ngapuhi will undoubtedly be expecting, could be allocated instead to those other tribes which they harmed so.


[1]  Tu-mata-kokiri who confronted Tasman in turn got their comeuppance, being exterminated by Ngai Tahu and Ngatiapa, the last battle being in the Paparoas about 1800.

[2]  For a good account of this episode, read Ian Wishart’s “The Great Divide”, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9876573-6-7.

[3]  See T.L.Buick, “The Treaty of Waitangi”, 1914.

[4]  Many of the details in this account are taken from “The Encyclopedia of New Zealand” and other sources, easily obtained by “googling”. Much is summarised by Pember Reeves in “The Long White Cloud, 1898, republished as ISBN 0-85558-293-6.

[5]  “When Two Cultures Meet”, 2012, pp64-65, ISBN1-872970-31-1.

[6]  “This Horrid Practice”, 2008, pp151-3, ISBN 978-0-14-300671-8.


45 thoughts on “Bruce Moon: Before 1840

  1. Excellent piece. It needs to be published in every paper in the country if only to remind people that this country was in a terrible state, especially for the Maori people pre-1840. My word they do have short (non-existent?) pre-1840 memories don’t they especially considering how detailed their memories are post-1840.

      1. Sorry Christopher, but the only racists here are those promoting separatism along racial lines. How can anyone wanting an end to this racist nonsense with everyone being treated the same, be a racist? You should listen to yourself and use your thought processes. It’s not hard to work out.

      2. Why should she. White people rule this country. It is ours. Your ancestors signed away sovereignty with a whimper in 1840

      3. My word Christopher your a foul mouth little man. You have shown the same trait as the rest of your rabble friends

    1. You’re dreaming if you think there is any chance that even one “paper in the country” would publish anything critical of those who are fostered by our present government. Truth means nothing compared with the benefits of taxpayer-funded bribery!

    2. You’re dreaming if you think there is any chance that even one “paper in the country” would publish anything critical of those who are fostered by our present government. Truth means nothing compared with the benefits of taxpayer-funded bribery!

  2. I have heard Dr Ranginui Walker state quite emphatically that cannibalism did not exist in Maori society-IN ANY FORM. Now that might not matter except that this man is a sitting member of the Waitangi tribunal and as far as I am aware he sat on the tribunal decision that Nga Puhi did not cede sovereignty when they signed the treaty in 1840 so you can see how reliable his opinion actually is.

    1. I have a 1870 written book called The Life and Times of Te Rauparaha. What a thug he was and we not only paid out his tribe millions but we gave them an apology as well. For what? It leaves me cold and irritated that the traitors we have leading NZ are so corrupt. The author describes so much cannibalism going on in the early 1800s that Ranginui Walker must have been mentally retarded to make that statement.

      1. “Millions” only seems like a lot … its a drop in the bucket to the amounts treasury play with. The apology is just “words”, a good will thing to move forward. You are the majority, your leaders have always got your back. I think that Crown settlements are less about Maori, and more about the fact that the world is watching. Apparently we are the race relations model for the world, so dont go blowing our cover now. Some Maoris use to think Ranginui Walker was a half pie, because he has a white wife. I attended this key note address he gave one time, and I saw the way he looked at his wife, she was pretty, but aging of course, he looked at her like she was Miss Universe, and I thought, there goes the best lesson for good race relations yet.

  3. If that’s what he’s said, then that throws any decisions from that fraudulent Tribunal into doubt right from the start. If he can’t get a very well known part of this country’s history right, then what on earth is he doing on the Tribunal?

    1. Lets talk fraudulent – I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where someone who breaks the law (The Perpetrator) gets to determine the process, the terms, the negotiaton terms and who they want to negotiate with and the reparation sum against the victim themselves and not be convicted for their crime and gets off scott free, over and over again!! The perpetrator being the “Crown Govt” and the victim being “Iwi/Tribes”. ?? You fucken white people are the dirtiest criminal, sick, inbred that need to goto somewhere else, because my generations over your shit

      1. Kinda ironic that a Maori would call white people ‘inbred’. Go to any Marae and you’ll see the buck tooth inbreeding that comes from a tiny gene pool

      2. Gee Christopher, just because one or more of your white ancestors screwed a Maori the rest of us should forever be great full to you and your potty mouth loser friends. Give me a break.

    2. Hi Helen, the Waitangi Tribunal only deals with Grievance type history. The tribunal can only make recommendations. Only Cabinet can make actual settlements. Plenty of brilliant minds on the tribunal too, mainly women !

    1. Agreed-the man would swear the world was flat if there was money in it. The fact that he has any credibility at all is a wonder of the age.

    2. Really – your a fkn twat. I don’t know of anywhere else in the world, where the person who breaks the Law (Perpetrator) gets to decide themselves the process, the terms, the terms of negotiation, who the negotiators will be, the reparation sum, and the cost of how much each Lawyer is going to be paid, whilst never being convicted, over and over again its victim. The perpetrator being the “crown/govt.” and the victim being “Maori/Iwi”. ?? Wake the fuck up you shit stirring little prick.

      1. Quite right Christopher. Our Iwi’s lead negotiator make the same kind of remark … he was more direct and said .. this is the only legal process in the country where the thief decides what he gives back. He was frustrated.

        But … It gets worse… Lol, they (meaning the Crown) even decide what they will “recognise” as having done. Iwi are provided with a numbered list of “Crown acknowledgements”. Saying things such as, the Crown recognises that the confiscation of blah blah was unjust and constituted a breach of the treaty of Waitangi. In our Iwi, one of the big whinges, is that they took really prized land, and granted waste land … like cliff faces. The old people always said, that the land department people were laughing about it, I suppose it has caused bitterness over the years. That land is so bad, I get car-sick just driving to it. The Crown refuses to acknowledge that the Landless Native Allotments were waste land, even though it says so in the AJHR. At least its good for beehives. Lol.

        The lead is actually my cousin, and in his day job, he runs a very large company, (oil and gas) in a tough environment … in charge of a lot of men … but its this stuff, that breaks him emotionally.

  4. A valiant attempt to show how self serving european imperialism saved aotearoa from itself after it made what it already considered a blood-thirsty culture even more blood-thirsty by arming it with muskets. You have to hand it to the sassanach when it comes to massaging history to create messiahs out of parasites.

    1. Weird ‘reasoning’ – so you consider that muskets or their equivalent would never have made it to this country-ever? The real massaging of history is coming from the Waitangi Tribunal who tell historians to go away and come back with a history more favourable to Maori or risk not getting paid. Try looking at an outline of the NZ history being taught in secondary schools to see where there is a good deal of lying.

    2. You make it sound as though the British had a grand plan to get the Maori to destroy each other. There is no evidence for this.

      How would it have made sense to arm the natives of a country you might later want to colonise – or (depending on your point of view) in which you had no interest?

      Are you aware that Hongi Hika went to England in the hope of being given muskets, but was given only a bunch of (to him) useless trinkets, which he exchanged for muskets in Sydney on the way home?

      Yours is a patronising analysis (possibly by a Celt with a chip on his shoulder :-)), which ignores the possibility of Maori chiefs being perfectly capable of arming themselves.

      1. british had a plan to get rid of all natives in native countrys there is not meny native countrys that you havent ruled and think you sould still rule and manage. all your done is created a large bill where this country will never be able to pay off this is present and past .so get rid of your ugly hate and find the way ahead

      2. The British had no plan to get rid of the “natives” in New Zealand. Quite the opposite.

        But the natives certainly had a plan to get rid of the British. The exact words were “drive the Pakeha into the sea”.

        Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for British-descended Kiwis, the British defeated them, and confiscated their land, just as they warned they would if the chiefs breached the Treaty.

        The way ahead is together. Don’t get bitter, get better.

      3. The way ahead is to follow the only principle of the Treaty of Waitangi that matters – equal citizenship.

        You had equal access to state education and yet you obviously did not take advantage of it. Why not?

      4. Hi again John, quite right, no master plan … sadly it was something more sinister … you probably have heard of the “fatal impact theory”. They actually believed Maori was a dying race, and if you pop that lens on before you read, all sorts of things will show themselves to you, particularly why there was such an aggressive land acquisition process… the Crown trying to beat private speculators. Also … the reason why the Crown will stall the award of reserves for 20 years. Thinking if they wait long enough, we’ll all be dead anyway.

        If you’ve heard of the Polynesian Society, thats made up of about 100 Crown employees during their time off, its all they talk about in their Journal for the first 5 years. Obligated to save antiquity, before the race dies out. Its all online. Native Land Court Judges, like Chief Judge Francis Fenton, Judge Wilson, Judge Gudgeon … all of them had an ethnological interest.

    3. Where is aotearoa?

      John Ansell is absolutely right and shows his depth of knowledge of our true history, unlike others who seem to want to look at it through tinted glasses ignoring the savage (literally) truth.

  5. Hi John,
    I have just returned to NZ from my work overseas. I notice every time I get back that this country is getting worse and worse. People who spend most/all their time here maybe do not notice the creeping cancer consuming this country, but I do because I am away so much and immediately on my return, I am thinking “it’s worse now than when I left”. The schools are run by raving lunatics. All govt departments are rotten with their pro maori/anti democratic rules and regulatuions. The govt is as undemocratic as it could be …and yet still pushes the boundaries. The lies and fraud of maoridom has reached every corner of this country. Oh sure, the tourists will report NZ as a nice country but underneath the surface we are rotten and stinking. I have read books like “Wild Swans” and another about Pol Pot and never in my dreams would I imagine NZ is heading the same way. I am reading Amy Brooks book “100 days” and see how far we have strayed from ‘democracy’. The govt is nothing but a cowardly thief that steals our hard earned money and has laws that virtually state that if you are not part-maori, then you are a second class citizen. Surely a law that favours a race over another is racist but the brainwashing programme has been so well implemented, the race that gets no benefits is supposedly the racist ones because only non-maori can be racist. Has this country gone past the point of no return? Every day, piece by piece, little by little, by stealth under our very noses, Finlayson and Key and all the gutless yes men/women in power have destroyed this once great country. Every kiwi I speak too ( and even a few in the education system who are terrified that their thoughts on this matter will ever come out) says the same in private. Yet here we are again with Key and the 4-times-failed-to-get-elected-Finlayson giving the middle finger salute to democracy as they continue to destroy NZ. I know you don’t have all the answers but it is so depressing watching it happen, knowing I and my family are second class. I admire your work. Keep it up!

    1. I know exactly what you are saying Derejk. We lived in the UK from the late 1980’s to the mid 1990’s and upon our return to this country were so shocked at the racial deterioration in our country that I started writing to politicians. I have written many letters and spoken personally to various politicians but have achieved zilch. It seems like an unstoppable train and just keeps on getting worse. There are so many lies and reinventions bandied around about our history that it is mind boggling. I just can’t understand why the ordinary man and woman in the street doesn’t rise up and do something. They will eventually suffer because evil prevails when good men do nothing. By then it will be too late.

      1. Yes second-class-citizen Helen, and today another story of sheer madness ( unlicenced drivers in Sth Akld) makes the headlines. Unbelievably, the spelling of “licensed” in the police document was “liscenced”. The dumbing down of NZ eh! Incredible that someone doing 4km over the limit gets a fine, but an unlicenced maori driver gets off!! Just shows how far this racist infiltration has gone into govt departments…as if we didn’t know already! I just hope we have a good option at the next election.

    2. “The schools are run by raving lunatics.”

      Mr Key would say you voted for Heki Parata to run our schools. So exactly who are the lunatics?

  6. Anyone phoned the racist ANZ Bank lately? More maori words than english on the recorded prompting message, and on the recorded message for ANZ credit cards, ANZ proudly state they ‘support all things maori’. Presumably that includes cannibalism, slavery, murder, decimating the Moriori, Moa and Huia etc. I have complained to the bank, yes the same bank that advertised recently for “Maori Graduates Wanted for 2016 ANZ Graduate Program” but still waiting for a response, This is nauseating and racist and insulting. second-class-citizen derejk

    1. Second-class citizen Derek:

      I happened to go into an ANZ Bank today for possibly the first time in my life to see if a $2 Bonus Bond my nana gave me in 1970 had multiplied in my absence. (It hadn’t.)

      If the bank is as racist as you say, I may have to withdraw my entire fortune (both highly depreciated dollars). ANZ once took over PostBank, then the National, now it appears they are morphing into Iwibank.

      Every non-iwi Kiwi needs to know this. Then they might decide to move their business to a bank that doesn’t discriminate based on race.

      Is this a general condition, or one specific to your local branch?

      Second-class citizen John.

  7. One wonders at the mentality of the people in charge of these places which are promoting racism. Perhaps the IQ of people is becoming lower for some reason which I can only guess at.

  8. I got in touch with a “manager” at ANZ. She was part maori and her disgust when I asked her if ANZ would support “all things english” or “all things chinese” or just “all things maori”? Her sneering voice when she asked if I was english ( I’m not from the UK) gave her away. By ANZ “supporting all things maori”, they must be in support of maori claims for all race based privileges, all claims for the seabed, foreshore, electromagnetic spectrum, water, wind, and every other nonsensical claim imaginable. This is not the kind of bank I want to be associated with. I shall be looking to change banks and find one that is not racist. second-class-citizen derejk

  9. Genghis Khan was an honourable chieftain compared anyway with these savages. Those that did not fight him, he allowed to live peacefully and prosper. He founded several dynasties who created new countries. He has been made the model for the post 911 American Empire. Maybe Trump will restore it from the neocons. I was a teacher in Mongolia for eighteen months ten years ago. .

  10. I wonder where “they” got their numbers from. Be weary of Percy Smith and friends, they seriously just make stuff up ! Look at Elsdon Best and that fleet theory of his. I’m from Taranaki, we were the first ones attacked in the 1820s by Ngapuhis. Then the Waikato got guns in the 1830s, and although they didnt attack us, if was only a matter of time ! They attacked the neighbours, as you have outlined. I dont know about those figures though. Some of my lot went South to look for guns to protect our homes. We had to go South, since going North meant Waikato.. Scary business ! By the time we got some guns, well everyone had turned Christian … typical ! As for grievances with the Crown … well hell the Crown sux anyway. Its not a race thing… well I dont consider it is. I think the main grievance is the way it was done. Like, you’ve got to be able to believe in something, or you don’t get anywhere. I think my biggest gripe are those damn surveyors. They say, tell us where your burial grounds are and we will reserve them. And yet we tell them, then they go and raid them, curio hunting, taking human remains for exhibition. I mean thats got to do anyones head in. Then some tribes, such as mine, were no threat to the colony, they called us bush dwellers, yet they still took everything. Would’ve been good, to leave us with something. Thankfully, the end is in site. No more historic claims are accepted by the tribunal now. If you missed out too bad. Besides, Maori never get more than 2% of the worth of claims. Just enough to maybe get a small amount of land back for development and some money to start something off. A possibility to still be Maori is all. Pakehas are all good, but sometimes we just need to be ourselves as well. Nine tenths of the day its the Western Way 😀 You write really well by the way.

  11. PS to the Author : Sorry I didn’t mean to comment on so many things, I was just really interested in the opinions that were here. I googled, “How the outside world view Maori” … and this was where I landed. I think we’re all hoping for better days. All the best with finding a better bank, Lol. I bank with Kiwi, coz if you have to transfer money, Kiwi to Kiwi is instant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s