Tuesday, 17 May 2011

NZ Wars - Sources

I haven't quite finished off the bases of my latest Flagstaff War figures, so I thought I'd just do a short post on sources, as a couple of people have asked in the comments. I also need to thank Roly (Arteis) and Pat (Mericanach) for drawing my attention to books I wasn't previously aware of. Anyone coming fresh to this period and wanting to find suitable books will probably find that the most recommended titles are hard to track down cheaply. I've bought most of my books during my trips to New Zealand (and wish I'd listened to my inner wargaming voice and bought more books when I was at the Russell Museum last year), although second hand markets look potentially quite fruitful. That said, there is a mass of information on the internet, and helpful fora. I list below some information sources that I've found most useful.


  • "Maori Fortifications" by Ian Knight - Osprey. I reviewed this book for Battlegames a few issues ago and recommend it highly. Easy to get hold of and the author is a reliable guide on Victorian warfare. Excellent illustrations and invaluable for anyone who has any pretensions to model a pa. Whilst the text jumps around in chronological terms, the book provides a short narrative of the entire New Zealand Wars.

  • "Victoria's Enemies (4)" by Ian Knight - Osprey. This has a good section on the Maori and two decent colour plates, one of which also shows the uniform of a 58th Foot private from the Flagstaff War.

  • "The British Army on Campaign (1)" by Michael Barthorp - Osprey. This only has a small section on the NZ campaigns but is useful nonetheless.

  • "The New Zealand Wars" by James Belich - Penguin. This is the only single volume detailed narrative of the entire period that I have found. There appears to be a DVD series that is connected to the book. Belich is a revisionist who objects to much received wisdom and, I think (as I have only read the early chapters so far), considers the idea of a British victory to be much more equivocal.

  • "Battlefields of the New Zealand Wars: A Visitor's Guide" by David Green - Penguin. This is what it says, namely a gazetteer, but it includes full descriptions of the sites it refers to and contains much useful information and photos. The introduction has a good summary of the historiography of the period. This book has been published only very recently and I really wish I'd had it when in the Bay of Islands last year!

  • "The Colonial New Zealand Wars" by Ryan and Parham - Granthan House. This is the one book that people in the know recommend. I can't find it for anything less than £60 and I'm not sure it's actually still in print. I gather that the second, 2002, edition is the one to have as it includes many more illustrations than the first.

  • "To Face the Daring Maoris: Soldiers' impressions of the First Maori War 1845-47" by Michael Barthorp - Hodder & Stoughton. I have just ordered this on Pat's and Roly's recommendation. Amazon have a couple of second hand copies.




Mericánach said...


You ought to be able to stick the Cowan book on your e-reader device. There's an E-Pub format of the book available on a tab at the same link.

I stuck mine on the Kindle the other night.

I've also found more books on the NZ Wars on Google books, but they mainly deal with the later conflicts in the 1860s. I'll try to get the links to you later.

Bedford said...


Thanks mate. The list looks more thn comprehensive (certainly enough to begin with) so I'll start searching for these ASAP.

Much appreciated :O)


Ray Rousell said...

Blimey!! where to start???

Ubique said...

I saw a book in the Durham Light Infantry museum last year - "Well Done the 68th: The Durhams in the Crimea and New Zealand 1854-1866" by
John Bilcliffe that may be of interest.


Anonymous said...

Archive.org seems to have some useful titles also.


"Old New Zealand..." by maning at least covers the events of 1845.

Roly said...

Another useful website:

Anonymous said...

"The New Zealand Wars" by James Belich is an excellent book and a very good grounding for anyone wanting to get into the period.

Adelaide Gamer said...

Also, perhaps, "Blood Brothers: The Anzac Genesis," Jeff Hopkins-Weise, Wakefield Press, Kent Town (in Adeliade!), 2009. It examines Australian participation in the conflict.

LittleArmies said...

The Osprey book on Maori fortifications is on sale at the moment:



Andrew said...

Bellich's book is a joke. It is revisionist, poorly researched, and goes against pretty much all written history of the land wars. Better to read Tim Ryan & Bill Parhams "Colonial New Zealand Wars" Not to mention the excellent books by Col. James Alexander "To face the daring Maori" and "Bush Fighting"

conifer said...

I have read Col. James Alexander "To face the daring Maori" and would dearly love to get a copy of my own. All my searches return the same title by Michael Barthrop which is of dubious record.
Any ideas where to find the Col. James Alexander publication?

Roly / Arteis said...

'To Face The Daring Maori' is indeed by Michael Barthorp. It's a really good book on the 1840s conflict. It follows the exploits of the 58th Regiment. It is now out of print, but comes up secondhand on the internet from time to time.