Tua Marina: The Scene of the Wairau Massacre
In New Zealand history, the Wairau Affray (called the Wairau Massacre in older texts), on 17 June 1843, was the first serious clash of arms between Māori and the British settlers after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and it was also the only one to take place in the South Island. Four Māori died and three were wounded in the incident, and among the British the toll was 22 dead and five wounded.
An armed posse of Europeans set out from Nelson to arrest Te Rauparaha who was a Māori rangatira (chief) and war leader of the Ngāti Toa tribe. He was influential in the original sale of land to the New Zealand Company. Fighting broke out and a number were killed on both sides. Although around 20 of the European party escaped, about 10 others surrendered and were subsequently massacred at the insistence of Te Rangihaeata as utu for the shooting of his wife.
The incident heightened fears among settlers of an armed Māori insurrection and created the first major challenge for Governor Robert FitzRoy, who took up his posting in New Zealand six months later. Although he was strongly criticized by settlers and the New Zealand Company, Governor FitzRoy who arrived in New Zealand in December 1843 investigated the Wairau Affray and exonerated Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata.
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