Dr John Robinson author of newly published book “Unrestrained Slaughter – The Maori Musket Wars 1800-1840” dares to enter the fray of the Treaty of Waitangi issue for it is a subject that provokes too easily accusations of “racist” rather than sensibly debating the subject. The back cover says the book ”is a brief account — of the deadliest and most gruesome chapter in New Zealand’s history – the Musket Wars in which around one third of the Maori population were killed.” In bloody battle, inter-tribal fighting was rife aggravated by the introduction of muskets.
The Musket Wars have been written about before most notably by Marlborough historian and author Ron Crosby in his mammoth book “Musket Wars, a history of inter-iwi conflict 1806 – 1845” published in 1999.
John Robinson’s book is more modest in size – 130 pages – and neatly condenses the conflicts, their origins and consequences, into a very readable and revealing volume.
The musket war period was characterised by widespread killings, cannibalism and violence with deaths often for the reason of utu, i.e. revenge. Eventually common-sense prevailed largely through the influence of Christian missionaries and the futility of the violent fighting was realised by northern chiefs. A big cultural change ensued within Maoridom from the old tribal rivalry towards a more collective and peaceful approach.
Dr John Robinson, a USA scientist with a PhD degree has written two earlier books “When Two Cultures Meet” and “The Kingite Rebellion.”
Published by Tross Publishing, Wellington “Unrestrained Slaughter”’s recommended retail price is $30.