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Contest for New Zealand played out in Waikato War
Vincent O'Malley's Great War for New Zealand launch at Waahi Pa, Waikato. Photo Supplied

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The Waikato War had a more profound influence on the long term shape of New Zealand and the historical shape of the country than Gallipoli or other 20th century conflicts, according to the author of a new book.

Vincent O'Malley's The Great War for New Zealand was published on Monday, after a copy was presented to King Tuheitia at Saturday's Waahi Pa.

He says Governor George Grey wanted to impose the crown's dominance, while settlers wanted the fertile Waikato land, so pretexts were invented to go to war.

"Up until about the 1860s Maori and Pakeha are kind of forced to get along with each other because both have things the other want but can't obtain by force. This is the period when Pakeha start to feel they have that power and so this is a contest for New Zealand and its future between a kind of bicultural vision people like Wiremu Tamehana espoused and Pakeha assumptions of racial dominance. It was all on the line in the Waikato conflict and this is why I argue it was the defining moment in New Zealand history or the defining conflict," Dr O'Malley says.

Pakeha victory in the Waikato meant the Treaty of Waitangi was pushed into the background for a century, and Maori enteered a cycle of land loss, poverty and attempts at assimilation,


VINCENT O'MALLEY INTERVIEW

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