The Maori King

Or, The Story of our Quarrel with the Natives of New Zealand

The British politician and lawyer Sir John Eldon Gorst (1835–1916) arrived in New Zealand in 1860, shortly after the outbreak of the Taranaki Wars (from 1860 onwards), with idealistic intentions of working with Bishop Selwyn and the Maori. He took on various governmental roles that required contact with the Maori, including those of school inspector, magistrate and, later, Civil Commissioner for the Waikato region, whose powerful chiefs had not signed the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. In 1864 he published this book analysing the social and economic situation in New Zealand, the rapid deterioration of relations between Maori and Europeans (which he ascribes largely to errors and neglect on the part of the British administration) and Maori demands for self-government. He describes, often as an eye-witness, the complex political wrangling that took place, and sets out his own views about the past and future relations between the two ethnic groups.