Darkest Waikato: New Zealand Wars variant for In the Heart of Africa

In 2003 Martin Craig sent me his Heart of Africa (Foundry) variant called Darkest Waikato. In hindsight I wish I’d published them on my site back then. But, in the principle that is it never too late to rectify old mistakes, I’m posting them now. All words are by Martin and the rules are copyright by Martin. You can download the rules as a PDF.

Darkest Waikato


These rules are modifications of the Foundry’s In The Heart of Africa to adapt the rules for use in the New Zealand wars from the musket wars to the final campaigns. They are intended to cover the Maori vs Maori battles of the Musket Wars, the Crown vs Maori wars of the 1840s and the more complex campaigns of the 1860s and 1870s.

The Heart of Africa rules were written by Chris Peers. They are available from the Wargames Foundry website at: Heart of Africa.

The New Zealand Wars predate the period covered by the HoA rules, so the standard of firearms is not as high. The other essential difference is the range of troop types is much narrower in New Zealand as only one European power was involved, fighting one native people that would amount to a small tribe in Africa.

However both sides were among the most committed and aggressive warmongers of a violent period, and the military developments and evolution of tactics and military engineering was internationally significant.

It must be noted that Maori fought because they wanted to, both as individuals and as a group. They were not under any obligation to take up arms and fought for social reasons as much as for military ones. This makes several complications for a wargamer.

Firstly, units were organised along kinship lines rather than on troop type. A unit could contain two or more troop types. There were not enough muskets to go around so obsolete weapons remained in use. Just because you were not equipped with the latest didn’t mean you had to miss out on the fight. Survivors would pick up casualties’ weapons, so in effect the weakest troop type will be reduced faster than the best. However, Maori were never well supplied with powder and ammunition, so the HoA rules stand.

Secondly, allies usually had reason to fight your enemy. They did so for their own benefit, and in many cases the obligation was on the local Maori to supply food and a good fight for their visiting allies.

Allied groups should have a sub-commander, and morale tests should apply to that commander. Where possible Maori allies should have a different player with slightly different victory conditions than the “main” Maori commander.

The same motivations, player control and victory conditions apply to Kupapa, Maori fighting alongside the Crown. Kupapa were volunteers who fought for their own motivation. They were not recruits under direct Crown control and should be seen as allies, certainly not as native levies.

By the end of the period Kupapa were dominating the fighting. Pakeha soldiers served under Maori commanders, and Kupapa units continued the fighting independently, even after the Crown had withdrawn its units and ceased paying the Kupapa.

The fighting had gone full-circle, from the tribal fighting of the Musket Wars, to fighting between the Crown and Maori in the 1840s and 1860s, back to tribal fighting in the 1870s.

Download Darkest Waikato

Download Darkest Waikato (PDF)

4 thoughts on “Darkest Waikato: New Zealand Wars variant for In the Heart of Africa”

    • Andrew, very sorry about that. Poor quality control when I published. The links are now fixed.

    • Wargames Foundry appear to have withdrawn the Heart of Africa rules from their catalogue. The figures are still available.


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