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Why the Musket Wars still matter, and should be taught in schools - Author

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Ron Crosby couldn’t believe his eyes when the Ministry of Education’s released its draft curriculum for compulsory teaching of New Zealand history. Subjects to be covered included initial contacts between Māori and Europeans, and early colonial history - but not the Musket Wars.

In The Forgotten Wars, released this week, Crosby sets out to ensure that readers will be able to appreciate just how much of an omission that was. For, as he describes in the book, these conflicts between 1806 and 1845 were the longest period of continuous warfare in Aotearoa, and laid the basis of relationships between iwi and hapū ever since - not to mention featuring endless cycles of utu and feats of bravery, including the campaigns of Hongi Hika and Te Rauparaha.

Muskets, potatoes and other introductions fundamentally altered the balance of power in 19th-century Aotearoa, leading to inter-iwi conflicts that claimed tens of thousands of lives (killing, wounding or

displacing up to half of the Māori population). Drawing on his seminal The Musket Wars, this concise work breaks the wars down by region and tribe, with stunningly detailed maps and illustrations that will help to ensure these epochal conflicts are no longer forgotten.

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