The first of the New Zealnd Wars has several alternative names, including The First Maori War, The Northern War, and Hone Heke’s War. I prefer the last name as it was Hone Heke that started the war and gave it real flavour. And Hone Heke is one of my two favourite characters of the NZ wars (the other is Titokawaru – more on him later).
In my timeline for the Hone Heke’s War I outline the events and suggest wargaming scenarios. You might also want to have a look at the Strategic Objectives for the various protagonists.
22 Jan 1840 Organised Settlement begins
The New Zealand Company lands its first immigrants in Wellington.
6 Feb 1840 Treaty of Waitangi
Treaty of Waitangi is signed at the Bay of Islands. 46 northern Maori chiefs are signatories, including Hone Heke.
3 May 1841
NZ becomes a Crown Colony, severing links with NSW.
20 Nov 1841
A young chief, Maketu son of Ruhe, murders six people of the Robertson family, at Mou Aphia. One of victims is a grandchild of the chief Rewa.
16 Dec 1841
A meeting of the Ngapuhi chiefs uphold the Treaty by giving up Maketu, mainly because of Rewa’s grandchild. Hone Keke speaks against this, advocating open revolt. Maketu subsequently hanged.
Apr 1843: Hone Heke establishes himself
A large block of land at Mangonui had been purchased on behalf of the Government, from Nopera Panakareao, a chief of the Rarawa people in Kaitaia. This block included land at Taipa, the property of Porirua and others, of Whagaroa, relatives of Heke. They disputed the sale by building a pa on the land and forbidding occupation, Panakareao came in force to oppose them. Porirua invited Heke to come over and help. Heke went over with his young men, and routed Panakareao in battle (April 1843). At Heke’s insistence the land should be resigned publicly to Porirua. This established Heke’s mana, and he was henceforth looked upon as the leader of the Nga-Puhi.
It is possible that during this battle the Rev. Henry Williams persuaded the leaders to make peace.
17 Jun 1843 Skirmish at Tua Maruia
Te Rauparaha’s men kill 22 Europeans (including Captain Wakefield) following a dispute over land.
5 Jul 1844
The wife of a European butcher of Kororareka, insults Heke Hone by comparing him to a dead pig. The Police Magistrate is powerless to stop the subsequence disturbances of Heke’s men.
8 Jul 1844 Hone Heke 1, flagstaff 0
Hone Heke’s men cut down the flagstaff at Kororareka. British view this seriously – “That it was a defeat I must acknowledge, as I consider losing the flagstaff in the same light as losing a ship” (Lieutenant Phillpotts, Royal Navy).
Lieutenant-Colonel Hulme arrives at Kororareka with 250 men in several detachments. Mainly from the 96th.
2 Sept 1844
Governor FitzRoy, Bishop Selwyn and Lieutenant-Colonel Hulme meet friendly chiefs at Waimate. Chiefs guarantee Hone Heke’s good behaviour. Troops are returned to Auckland and Sydney.
Kawiti’s followers started acting aggressively to assert their rights. Kohu, sister of Hori Kingi Tahua, son of Whareumu, and grandchild Kawiti is slightly injured by four police looking for a European at Kawakawa. Hori Kingi, backed by armed men, forces the Magistrate at Kororareka to pay compensation. Kawakawa tribesmen start causing trouble in the district, stealing horses and the like. Three Kawakawa chiefs (Pareoro, Mate, Kokou) plunder some cottages at Matakana, 25 miles north of Auckland. Four Europeans are left destitute of clothing and bedding. £150 was offered for their arrest. Initially, Kawiti had little sympathy for these agressive activities of his followers, and strongly advised caution. When he realised that “their blood was up”, he decided to support them against the government.
Hone Heke protected the settlers, and disapproved of the Kawakawa depredations … “No. Let us fight with the flagstaff alone”.
10 Jan 1845 Hone Heki 2; flagstaff 0
Hone Heke cuts down the flagstaff at Kororareka. Government offers a £100 reward for Heke. Heke offers similar reward for Governor FitzRoy.
17 Jan 1845 (Thu)
30 rank and file of the 96th arrive in Kororareka from Auckland. These men and some of Waka Nene’s men alternate guarding the new flagpole.
19 Jan 1845 (Sat) Hone Heke 3; flagstaff 0
Hone Heke cuts down the flagstaff at Kororareka watched by the guards (Waka Nene’s men).
12 Feb 1845
H.M.S. Hazard (Acting-Commander Robertson) arrives Kororareka. Seven of 18 cannon were jettisoned due to rough trip between Wellington and Auckland. Fortifications are built. Hone Heke prepares at Kaikohe.
Late Feb 1845
Hone Heke arrives at Waimate with 150 men. Pro-government chiefs and missionaries try to dissuade him from further action.
Early Mar 1845
Hone Heke and Kawiti agree to combine forces. Form a combined camp at Te Uruti, near Kororareka. Skirmishers appear near Kororareka, and loot what they can.
3 Mar 1845
An armed pinnace under Acting-Lieutenant Morgan of the H.M.S. Hazard, attempted to disperse the Maori skirmishers. The Maori fired on the boat, the first act of war upon Her Majesty’s forces.
4 Mar 1845
Lieutenant Phillpotts and Mr Parrot of the Hazard, rode out towards Matauhi Bay to reconnoitre a party of Heke’s men. They rode straight into a band of Kawiti’s scouts who unhorsed them and made them prisoners. Kawiti disarmed and sent them back to the ship with an injunction to exercise greater care in the future.
10 Mar 1845
Gilbert Mair, a gentleman of high standing in the community and some knowledge of the Maori, reports Hone Heke’s plans to the authorities in Kororareka. The locals scoff at the suggestion. Robertson lands a small cannon from the Hazard and mobile force of 45 sailors and marines.
11 Mar 1845 Sack of Kororareka: Hone Heke 4; flagstaff still 0
Hone Heke defeats British garrison of Kororareka. He cuts down the flagstaff a fourth time. Kororareka is abandoned, then bombarded by the British. The Maori sack the town.
See more information on the Fall of Kororeka.
12 Mar 1845
Looting continues. Maori who hadn’t been involved in the attack join the looters, as do several Europeans. Rev. Henry Williams and others recover the bodies of the dead, plus some goods. Lieutenant Phillpotts orders the town to be bombarded again, on both friend and foe. In the evening the town was set alight by a chief called Te Aho.
13 Mar 1845
British survivors sail to Auckland. Kawiti retires inland to Waiomio, and Heke to his pa at Ahuahu.
16 Mar 1845
Survivors arrive in Auckland.
19 Mar 1845
Tamati Nene Waka arrives in Waimate to aid the Europeans. He brings 250 Ngapuhi from Hokianga and 40 Ngati-Pou.
24 Mar 1845
280 men of the 58th regiment arrive at Auckland under Captain Grant, along with heavy baggage, stores, and ordnance (2 field pieces?).
25 Mar 1845
Tamati Nene Waka moves his force to Okaihau to build a pa. This is used as a base to skirmish with Heke’s men.
Early Apr 1845
Hone Heke abandons Ahuahu and starts a battle pa (Te Mawhe Pa) at Puketutu near Lake Omapere.
22 Apr 1845
215 men of the 58th regiment arrive at Auckland under Major Cyprian Bridge.
Late Apr 1845
Expedition under Lieutenant-Colonel Hulme sails to the Bay of Islands
30 Apr 1845
Hulme’s force burns Otuihu Pa, and arrests the local chief Pomare.
3 May 1845
Hulme’s expedition lands at Onewhero Bay. Immediately start the march of 15 miles to Lake Omapere, seeking Hone Heke.
7 May 1845
British arrive at Te Mawhe Pa, at Puketutu on the shores of Lake Omapere. Kawiti arrives by forced march to join Hone Heke.
8 May 1845 Puketutu Pa
On 8 May 1845, at the Te Mawhe Pa, at Puketutu on the shores of Lake Omapere, Hone Heke repulsed with heavy losses a British assault. See more information on Puketutu.
15 May 1845 Kapotai Pa
The British, under Major Cyprian Bridge, attack Kapotai Pa on Waikare Island.
12 Jun 1845 Te Ahuahu
Pro-European Maori under Tamati Waka Nene defeat Hone Heke at Te Ahuahu. See more information on Te Ahuahu.
1 Jul 1845 Ohaeawai Pa
Maori under Kawiti repulsed significantly stronger British forces under Colonel Despard from Ohaeawai Pa. For more information on Ohaeawai Pa.
11 Jan 1846 Ruapekapeka Pa
British occupy Ruapekapeka pa. For more information on Ruapekapeka.
Hone Heke, Kawiti and Tamati Waka Nene agree on Peace.