Wairau Affray

The Wairau Affray of 17 June 1843,[1] also called the Wairau Massacre and the Wairau Incident, was the first serious clash of arms between British settlers and Māori in New Zealand after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the only one to take place in the South Island.[2]:182 The incident was sparked when a magistrate and a representative of the New Zealand Company, who held a possibly fraudulent deed to land in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough in the north of the South Island, led a group of European settlers to attempt to clear Māori off the land[2]:182 and arrest Ngāti Toa chiefs Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata. Fighting broke out and 22 British settlers were killed, nine after their surrender. Four Māori were killed, including Te Rongo, who was Te Rangihaeata's wife and Te Rauparaha's daughter.

Wairau Affray
Part of the New Zealand Wars
Wairau Memorial in Tuamarina cemetery
Date17 June 1843
Tuamarina, Wairau, New Zealand

41°25′40.5″S 173°57′32.9″E
Caused byPossession of lands and estates
GoalsThe arrest of Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata for arson
Lead figures
Casualties and losses
22 killed
5 wounded
4 killed
3 wounded
Tuamarina, Wairau, is near Blenheim, at the top of South Island

The incident heightened fears among settlers of an armed Māori insurrection.[3]:236–237 It created the first major challenge for Governor Robert FitzRoy, who took up his posting in New Zealand six months later. FitzRoy investigated the incident and exonerated Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata, for which he was strongly criticised by settlers and the New Zealand Company. In 1944 a land claims commission investigation determined that the Wairau Valley had not been legally sold. The government was to pay compensation to the Rangitāne iwi, determined to be the original owners (until the early 1830s, when Te Rauparaha had driven them from the area).

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