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How did the Maori respond to British settlement?

The Maori initially welcomed British settlement but later resisted due to land disputes and loss of sovereignty.

The Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, initially welcomed the British settlers in the early 19th century. They saw the potential for trade, particularly in metal goods and weapons, which they lacked. The Maori chiefs even signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, which they believed would protect their rights and lands while allowing the British to establish a government.

However, the Maori soon realised that the British interpretation of the treaty was vastly different from their own. The British claimed the treaty gave them sovereignty over New Zealand, while the Maori believed they were merely granting the British the right to govern their own people and not the entire country. This led to a series of conflicts known as the New Zealand Wars or the Maori Wars, which lasted from 1845 to 1872.

The wars were primarily over land. The British settlers wanted more land for farming and the growing settler population. The Maori, on the other hand, had a deep spiritual connection to their land and did not want to give it up. The British used both legal and military means to acquire Maori land, leading to significant loss of life and land for the Maori.

The Maori resistance was not just military. They also used political means to resist British rule. They formed the Kingitanga (or Maori King) Movement, which aimed to establish a Maori King to unite the tribes and resist land sales. They also used the British legal system to challenge land confiscations and assert their rights.

Despite their resistance, the Maori were unable to stop the loss of their lands and sovereignty. By the end of the 19th century, the Maori had lost most of their land and were marginalised in their own country. However, their resistance laid the groundwork for the Maori rights movement in the 20th century, which has led to some redress for past injustices.

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