The European New Zealand War (1843 – 1870)

Between 1843 and 1870 European settlers where fighting in New Zealand against the native Maori Tribe. The war itself was not a sustained conflict but made up of a number of battles during the 19th Century lasting for around 30 years and fought across the islands following the increase in European migration from places such as England to New Zealand from the 1840s. This is one of the less well known conflicts within Britain today.

St Andrew’s Church in Farnham PC/64/ALB1/5

St Andrew’s Church in Farnham

Captain E Utterton of the 43rd Light Infantry was killed whilst serving in the New Zealand War. His memorial is inscribed on a marble tablet which is shared with a memorial to his father, in St Andrews Church Farnham.

The conflict in New Zealand occurred through an increase in setters and new settlements being built by the New Zealand Company. This had increased disputes between the settlers and the local Maori Tribes with the first conflict occurring at Wairau in 1843. Here 49 armed settlers tried to enforce a disputed sale against the local Maori of the Wairau Plains, which both parties laid claim to. The settlers tried to arrest Te Rauparah of the Ngati Toa Tribe which resulted in a skirmish with fifteen Maori and settlers being killed. Eleven settlers caught in flight were executed as part a Maori customary act of revenge for their brethren being killed. Following this Governor Fitzroy was urged by settlers for a military response but upon investigation found the settlers had no legal claim to the disputed land. From 1845 the conflict with Maori tribes would change as a result of the involvement of the British Army in the country in a number of wars, starting with the Northern War following the sacking of Kororāreka.

This brief overview of the start the New Zealand War brings us to the Surrey connection. In 1864 British troops were sent to Tauranga to impede a flow of arms and men to the local Maori Tribes. It was here at Pukehinahina (sometimes referred to as Gate pā), on 29th April 1864, the British attacked a gathered force of Maori who were dug in behind a palisade and within a network of underground trenches. Following an artillery bombardment the infantry were sent in. Assault parties managed to breach the palisade but suffered heavy casualties, with a second wave by the British force also being unsuccessful. It was during this battle that Captain E Utterton of the 43rd Light Infantry was killed.

Further Reading

  • For the Historic Environment Record (HER) record of the War Memorial that lists Captain E Utterton Click Here.

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